Study Reveals Cosmetic Surgery Unable to Boost Women’s Self-Esteem
A new study conducted by a research team from Dartmouth College, from the United States, reveals that black, brown, or racially mixed women from Venezuela are undergoing nose plastic surgeries in order to greater resemble white women. The research team finds that these cosmetic surgeries only help the patients for a limited amount of time, improving their self-esteem and body-image.
Plastic surgery is becoming an increasing trend in Venezuela and other countries, where the social need for a better physical appearance is increasing. Besides nose surgery, women undergo face lifts, breast implants, liposuction and other cosmetic surgeries. However, the new trend has caused controversy. According to a comment made by the former President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, the cosmetic surgery trend is to be blamed for the pressuring of Venezuelan women into getting cosmetic surgeries that they don’t need, nor afford.
Assistant Professor of anthropology, Lauren Gulbas, the leader of the study investigated the aesthetic ideals that are being promoted by the plastic surgery industry. She focused her studies on women from Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela, that underwent rhinoplasty, a plastic surgery procedure that targets the nose of patients. Her study was recently published in the journal Qualitative Health. A total of 63 women, regarding their race, participated in the study. 24 of the subjects had already completed a rhinoplasty procedure, whilst the other 39 were thinking about undergoing the procedure. Gulbas discovered that all the subjects wanted a “well-formed nose”, also known in Venezuela as nariz perfilada. According to the subjects, nariz perfilada is most commonly associated with being white, thus it is considered the gold standard of rhinoplasty. Gulbas affirms that the subjects of her study, which had African inherited broad, flat noses, wanted plastic surgery in order to improve their self-esteem by looking whiter.
In Venezuela, people are spread into racial categories that are defined by skin color. This categorization is made possible through a system called mestizaje – racial mixing. This is defined by the continuous promotion of racial equality and cultural fusion with Indians, Africans and Europeans. However, according to professor Gulbas’ study, the European culture and physical appearance are the most prized. Thus, cosmetic surgeons provide a large range of rhinoplastic surgeries. This further leads to a low self-esteem and dissatisfaction, due to the belief that the promoted looks are better than their own.
Professor Gulbas links cosmetic surgery to the racial marginalization that occurs in Venezuela and other countries around the world. Due to the high offer of cosmetic surgery, patients believe it to be a solution to the racial marginalization. She concludes that cosmetic surgery only helps patients for a limited amount of time, heightening their body image and self-esteem. However, the social effects of cosmetic surgery are not long-lasting and diminish in time.