I was fascinated by Alexander Edmonds article on plastic surgery in Brazil and the growing demand for “Plastica” by lower income groups. It has become such a strong part of the culture that it has found its way into the lives of millions of Brazilians who want to change their living conditions.
‘She is not pretty, she has low self-esteem, and she’s poor. She has no access to psychotherapy, to gyms, to nutritional guidance. And do you think she’s going to lose weight? The reason we operate is not because of her back. Her principal illness is poverty” This quote is an example of how even surgeons have had a change in attitude possibly because they too see the benefits of being a plastic surgeon by admiring the lifestyle of their western counter parts and have self assigned themselves the role of a psychologist.
Media in my opinion has been the greatest influence simply because of its reach and accessibility. This relates to the notion of obfuscation and the power that the media has to hide and mask the after effects of the surgery that include immense pain and growing insecurities.
I could not help but compare this to India. Plastic surgery is an emerging the market however it is considered a luxury for the wealthy. However something that relates to Plastica and Brazil is the dominant fairness cream industry that claims to “change your life”. In India being fair is desirable and therefore it is considered as a ticket to success as it increases your opportunities. The immense pressure to be fair and thus be beautiful and successful has created a complex for the men in the country as well. It is sad to see that a country that is an amalgamation of different cultures, races and traditions would celebrate the diversity of its citizens but instead media, fashion and Bollywood have now generalized this very concept of beauty.
Have we found a definition for beauty and no longer believe in the cliché “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”? Whether it is Plastica in Brazil or fairness creams in India or something else in another culture it is all related to body image and the perception of beauty and the growing influence of media over us.