The High Cost of Feeling Beautiful

They say that beauty comes in many shapes and sizes, that all men and women are beautiful in their own way. However, many are still unhappy and feel the pressure to undergo cosmetic surgery in order to find their own inner and outer beauty. Brazil has recently surpassed the U.S. in the most amount of plastic surgeries performed per year. They simply have more plastic surgeons, not to mention the financial power of women is increasing, as employers now favor a more educated workforce for all, women included. Plastic surgery is what some women are deciding to spend their money on — and so be it!

Maria da Gloria de Sousa, an unemployed Brazilian, remarks on her extensive plastic surgery on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
“I’m much happier, there is no doubt about it. My bottom will never sag, my breasts will never sag. They will always be there, hard. It is very good to look at the mirror and feel fine,” she says. In Brazil, the varying cost of plastic surgeons allows for people of all incomes to get cosmetic surgery. According to institutions like The Ivo Pitanguy Institute in Rio de Janeiro, the access to these procedures should be available for the wealthy and the poor. They claim, “Beauty shouldn’t just be a privilege to those who can afford it.”
In Brazil, essentially everyone is able to receive cosmetic surgery to look the way they want to look. For these people, they are in control of their bodies as well as their mindsets. After seeing the self-confidence that people exude from getting plastic surgery (my uncle got a gastric bypass surgery and my mother had a surgery many Asian women get to give a crease in their eyelids), I agree that cosmetic surgery should be an option available to all of those who feel the need to achieve their own definition of beauty. Self-confidence is something that should be a right for everyone. To me, I value the lasting sentiments and self-confidence after plastic surgery over the procedure itself.
I certainly understand that a majority of people get plastic surgery because they feel pressured to look the way that people in mass media look: thin waist, clear skin, etc. We’ve also been told to ignore this and that we should focus on loving ourselves no matter how we look.
What about those who have tried to love themselves and spent many years failing? They should be granted access to shorter surgeries that can give them self-confidence for life. And what about people with genetic deformations, injury after traumatic accidents, etc.? I’m not advocating that people give into pressure from the media, but rather I’m advocating the right to feel beautiful however that happens. Everyone deserves happiness and it’s a waste of life to feel terrible about yourself for half of that time.
Because self-confidence is a right to all, the cosmetic surgery to achieve this self-confidence should be a right also. I think it should certainly be made available to everyone who wants it — that is, within reason. We can’t afford to give everyone six different surgeries to whomever wants it. Surgery is still a very serious step to take to feel beautiful and if one is willing to step up to that level, then it’s something that could be done in payments possibly. Depending on the surgery, some insurance companies will cover it, yet some don’t feel the need to finance surgeries like breast implants or nose jobs.
Perhaps, more institutions like the Ivo Pitanguy Institute should exist in the U.S. There should be a way for all people to get cosmetic surgery, not just those who can afford the high pricing. For plastic surgeons who love their jobs and equally advocate beauty, it’s up to them to decide how they want to go about offering this right for all people in the U.S. looking to finally achieve their own version of beauty. I think the ability to fund everyone who wants to get plastic surgery needs to be a combined effort between the patients, surgeons and insurance companies. I believe that in some way or another, an agreement can be worked out that doesn’t involve our tax dollars — If Brazil can do it then so can we, right?

Katrina Yentch is a fourth-year literary journalism major. She can be reached at kyentch@uci.edu.