There have been, in the last 10 years alone, more cosmetic surgeries and procedures than ever before.
According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPA), 15.1 million cosmetic procedures took place in 2013, marking a 3 percent increase over 2012, and a 104 percent increase over procedures performed in 2000.
“More and more, plastic surgery has become a widely accepted way to enhance one’s appearance,” says Angela Alvarez, Media Director at Strax Rejuvenation, an elective surgery center in Florida. “Just from our personal experience, more people than ever before are looking into non-surgical cosmetic treatments or surgical procedures.”
This increase in cosmetic electives is walking hand-in-hand with an increasing public acceptance of plastic surgery. According to an article from the American Psychologica lAssociation, as recently as 30 years ago, “many mental health professionals viewed patients who sought cosmetic surgery as having psychiatric issues, but many studies since then suggest that those who seek cosmetic surgery have few differences pathologically with those who don’t have surgery.”
In other words, the practice of cosmetic self-improvement has moved away from taboo and more into the public’s’ eye of acceptance.
“Plastic surgery, cosmetic procedures, and things along that line are growing in popularity across all demographics and genders,” says Alvarez.
Still, this idea, the notion of accepting self-improvement with less judgment, doesn’t always play out when celebrity cultures enter the picture. Strax says that along with an increased comfort about plastic surgery, fandom can inspire people to monitor their favorite stars for even the slightest change in appearance.
“Kim Kardashian’s buttocks, probably has more to do with the increase in fat transfer procedures than all other formal advertising combined,” she says.
The numbers back the idea up, at least in theory. According to the ASPS, buttock ift procedures increased 80 percent between 2012 and 2013. That being said, what to make of the reaction to Kardashian’s photo spread with Paper Magazine, in which the celebutante exposed her bare backside for the sake of art?
What to make of negative reactions to Kylie Jenner’s Instagram photo of her lips, which caused so much ire that the teenager took to twitter to address plastic surgery allegations with the reminder that “these plastic surgery rumors hurt my feelings … and are kind of insulting?”
What to make of the extreme reaction to actress Renee Zellweger’s new face, which caused a flood of interest in the press?
“People like Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner are in front of cameras all the time,” Alvarez says .“It’s their jobs. Renee Zelleger is an actress She is projected on to screens across the country. It’s natural for these people, whose livelihoods are so closely tied to aesthetics, to want to look their best.”
Strax sees an irony in the reaction to celebrity and the clearly-rising public interest in plastic surgery.
“Situations like this suggest a plastic surgery bias, or, at least, a bias against celebrities who try to improve their bodies through augmentation or transformations,” Alvarez says. “It’s ironic, especially considering how idealized these people are, and how popular plastic surgery is becoming. I wouldn’t say it’s bullying, and I understand that a lot of it is just frivolous headline-grabbing, but considering the social acceptance of plastic surgery, the reaction is a little surprising.”
Perhaps it’s simply part of a life lived in public. Perhaps the public has further to go in understanding cosmetic procedures. Whatever the underlying issue, the number of people turning to places like Strax Rejuvenation for their cosmetic needs, and the number of people who are public about their cosmetic decisions, continue to tick upward.