On a recent long weekend anniversary celebration, I was asked at our resort’s spa, if my eyes were real. Real? It took me a second to comprehend what she was asking. After my puzzled look, she clarified her question telling me, people in her country do not have eyes the color of mine- green. Oh. No, they are real, I responded.
I read an article on the flight down regarding our culture’s new standard of aesthetic medical procedures and why nearly all women will get some cosmetic procedure in the future for the same reason they wear makeup- because every other woman does.
Acceptability finds its way to nearly all forms of human desires and vanity. Bruce ‘Caitlin’ Jenner. Breast augmentation. Gay marriage. Full lips. Though I by no means put all levels of vanity and desires on the same plane, all are eventually accepted. I always say it takes a few years for trends to travel from California to Georgia, but they eventually make it here. We are so very adaptable as a culture. There was a time when make up was worn almost exclusively by prostitutes, hair dye was applied in secrecy, teeth whiteners were used only by celebrities, tattoos for sailors and Facebook was for college kids. Acceptability.
When I first started in the cosmetic medical business about 15 years ago, a simple Botox procedure was a well-kept secret for most women in my area. Now, it is almost a badge of honor across every income level. Not only are women no longer keeping their procedures secret, they are comparing and bragging across the tennis net, at the water coolers and bridge tables. Acceptability.
We have gone from being down right snippy about those who flaunt their ‘work’ to using phrases like, ‘bless her heart’ (never a positive connotation, by the way), ‘letting herself go’, ‘not aging gracefully’ and ‘what is she thinking?’ for those who choose not to succumb to the needle or scalpel. The new normal in 2015 is to get a little medical help to age gracefully- and I mean more than microdermabrasion. In fact, in 2014, U.S. practitioners performed more than 15 million cosmetic procedures, more than twice as many than in 2000. As observed by our getaway beach weekend, breast augmentation remains the number 1 performed surgical procedure. However, Botox treatments more than double the number of breast augs done. Originally considered for the rich and famous only, more than ⅔s of cosmetic procedures are now performed on those making $60,000 or less. Religious affliction has not been exempt from the new normal with Salt Lake City, traditionally thought of as predominantly conservative Mormon, had the most plastic surgeons per capita in the country! Age is no longer a defining factor either. I have treated 22 -82 year olds. While the majority of procedures are performed on Caucasians, the frequency jumped 72% for African Americans and 77% for Asians from 2005- 2014. Acceptability.
I guess a more understandable question of the spa worker may have been, “Are your eyes NATURAL?” Whether real or not, we all want to look natural. Natural still trumps ‘real’ for most of us. Rarely do I have a client who wants a “shock and awe” appearance. But that is the biggest fear most virgin clients have as they nervously describe what they want enhanced, smoothed or lifted on their faces. They don’t want to look, ‘done’, ‘fixed’ or ‘weird’. Natural remains the most significant part of the acceptability bandwagon. Every injector of Botox® and other products strive for the ‘natural’ results. In fact, that is what separates the good injectors from the great ones, in my opinion- MDs, NPs, or RNs.
I can hear myself asking my kids, “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too just to fit in?” I hoped they would not, but sometimes the attraction to be like everyone else is overpowering, especially when it involves appearance and not physical harm. By nature, most of us want to ‘keep up’ and fit in. We can’t help it. It is human nature, in our American blood. We want to keep up with our coworkers, with our kid’s Moms, with our group of lunch buddies, our sisters, our favorite stars … on and on. And now it is not only acceptable, but expected. It’s the new makeup. Are your eyes real? Are your boobs? Is your smile? Is your hair? Well, it doesn’t really matter what’s ‘real’ because it has all become acceptable- the new makeup. And that is why most women in America will eventually get medical help to grow old gracefully.
Statistics taken from American Society of Aesthetic Surgeons and Time magazine June 29, 2015.