How Far Is Too Far To Go For Beauty?

I was pleased to be featured as a guest on Retirement Living Channel’s “Daily Café.”  The subject of the segment was plastic surgery: “How far is too far to go for beauty? Actress Demi Moore admitted to using medical leeches to “detox” her blood. Priscilla Presley’s doctor faced charges for injecting her with a low-grade form of botox. Victoria Jones and psychologist Dr. Dorree Lynn will join us for this discussion.”

I commented about an issue that I was aware of in certain South American countries.  Plastic surgery is viewed more openly, and is encouraged in a way that is different from the United States. Some South American governments encourage, support, and even aid in their residents’ cosmetic procedures because the country takes great pride in having “beautiful people” represent their nation. I wanted to send along my background information to the producers at Retirement Living as an FYI, but my research on the web revealed little.

I reached out to Steven Hopping, MD., a renowned plastic surgeon and the president of The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.  I asked Dr. Hopping if he could verify, and expand upon my understanding of South American countries encouraging, and indeed in some instances, helping to pay for particular enhancement procedures of their citizens. “Yes! Argentina,” he responded without hesitation.  There are other nations as well, like Columbia for example, that encourage specific procedures and also enable funds to become available for patients through NGO agencies*.  Physical beauty is highly valued in these societies, and the emphasis on attractive features means that there are certain standards that people feel they must hold themselves up against.

I have found other examples of cultural differences that are slowly becoming more universal.  The trend to change oneself in the name of physical improvement is steadily increasing in the US. Although I do understand it, and have used some cosmetic aid myself.  Still, without an authentic sense of self, all external changes remain just that. I do my best to keep up for my age. But, I am in a loving and supportive relationship, watch my diet, and exercise—that, along with good genes and luck, have kept me pretty healthy so far. A gift I daily appreciate.  If I lived in a place where cosmetics were not available, I believe I’d live perfectly well without my daily, weekly and monthly maintenance. Sometimes, I long for a simpler existence. But, this is the life I’ve chosen, and with it comes a personal responsibly to take care and repair, repair, repair.

*According To Wikipedia, A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a legally constituted organization created by private persons or organizations with no participation or representation of any government. In the cases in which NGOs are funded totally or partially by governments, the NGO maintains its non-governmental status insofar as it excludes government representatives from membership in the organization.

Previously Published in 2008