Tag Archives: cosmetics

Makeover Needed?

Part 2 of Chapter 11 of the book Looks


Elizabeth Arden

Nowadays, women leave the house with makeup in their purses. Long ago, only women with makeup were stage performers, or prostitutes. In the 1800s, makeup was frowned upon. The general consensus was that only loose women wore makeup.

It all began in the 1900s. Pharmacist Paul Beiersdort developed the first cream that chemically bound oil and water. His firm is presently known as Nivea. In the United States, cosmetics’ rise to prominence grew out of the rivalry of Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein. Both believed that beauty was linked with health. As a result, they combined facials with diet and exercise classes. With Max Factor, they build the foundations of modern marketing. These two women used celebrity endorsements and magazine spreads to advertise their products. Not surprisingly, both brands still remain active.

img_mainI thought Max Factor was the name of a mascara.

The beauty industry consolidated. Unilever acquired product lines, like Dove. Estee Lauder got Stila, MAC, and Bobbi Brown.

L'OREAL BeyonceL’Oreal is now the world’s largest cosmetic merchant. They reported their annual sales in 2006 to be 15.8 billion.

This industry invests heavily in marketing. They’re not above a little nonsense. There may be scientific breakthroughs now and then, but their money really doesn’t go into research. L’Oreal always talks about product patents, and new ideas that new research has thought up, but it stands that their money doesn’t go into research for new products but rather marketing and advertising and hiring celebrities and models to showcase their products, like Beyonce on the right.

shiseidofirmingcreamOthers use pseudoscience. Shiseido had their Body Creator sin gel, which claimed that its ingredients could melt away over 2 inches of body fat in a month without the need of diet or exercise. Sounds familiar? It’s not that much different from Nivea’s My Silhouette cream that basically claims that their white tea melts fat cells until they don’t grow back. No need to exercise, either.

Pantene uses a Vitamin B ingredient. This certainly attracts the shoppers. However, vitamins cannot be absorbed through skin or hair.

However, Dr. Patzer says, we’re living in an age where dreams are put forth as reality. We don’t know what’s true and what’s not, and we don’t bother to do research, either. Google isn’t much help, because there’s as much wrong information floating around the web as there is right.

shiseido-the-makeup-silky-eye-shadow-quadDr. Patzer states,

To forget this is to forget that a movie or TV show is merely entertainment. And while one may sometimes learn valid life lessons from art, it is art, it is artifice, it is not reality–it is a construct from beginning to end.

The growth of the beauty industry is fueled by the power of the media, along with the physical appeal phenomenon we’ve talked about in earlier posts. Advertising depicts the beautiful with the glamours lifestyles in efforts to sell their goods and services of every sort, not just cosmetics. This all contributes to the power and persuasiveness of physical appeal.

Sarah Jessica Parker: face of Garnier's ads

Sarah Jessica Parker: face of Garnier's ads

In our celebrity worshipping culture, the youthful appearance is held up as an ideal. We’re told that science and technology will allow to remain young, beautiful, and vital. However, this helps feed our fears of growing old.

This isn’t for our benefit but for the benefit of the industry itself, continues the author. The seek to control how we view and measure ourselves, and what we choose as important to us. Not to mention that the industry dictates what we must do to be the perfect person.

Yes, we do want to  look more beautiful. We want to be around more beautiful beautiful, and read about beautiful people. However, no matter how much products we buy that vows to make us look sexier, no matter what procedures we get to make ourselves more desirable, it seems that few of us really feel better about our own physical attractiveness.

Yet we live in a time where in wealthier communities, parents give breast implants to their daughters as high school graduation presents. 88 year olds choose breast reduction. Instead of tea parties, women have Botox parties.

03859380614We may say that this is just the way it is. But anthropologists studied a tribe in Africa. They wanted to see whether the physical appeal stereotypes of that tribe had been influenced by the media. They found that, opposite of our like of hunky men, girls liked slender men. Another researcher showed Men’s Health to the tribe members, with some spreads of male body builders. One old guy looked at the bulging pectorals of a male body builder. “Was it a man, or a very, very strong woman?”

Do we really need a makeover?

Or is it our culture that needs the makeover?


Look at the Shiny!

Part I of Chapter 11 of the book Looks

Chapter 11 is about the profitableness of the beauty industry — not to us but to them. It’s an extremely profitable venue, especially if you have the ability to devise new products and services AND the skills to market them. How many people can think of cool new made up names to describe imaginary vitamins and minerals? Or non-existent secret ingredients? Or vitamins that do nothing to your hair because your hair can’t absorb vitamins?

Dr. David Matlock’s speciality is the Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute (LVRI). This procedure is extremely popular, and yes, it’s exactly what you think it is. He decided to profit not only from himself using his techniques, but from anyone else using his techniques. The procedures are patented.


A typical plastic surgery clinic

Next, Dr. Matlock started an “Associate operation.” This wasn’t unlike a franchise, and put 3 million dollars into his pockets.

He made the people who used his methods pay a license fee. Dr. Matlock stated that he was merely defending his intellectual property. Of course, he says his job is “to empower women with knowledge, choice, and alternatives.”

Now let’s go into a little history: until the middle of the 1900s, cosmetic surgery was actually reconstructive surgery for the horribly deformed. Take the deformities caused by World War II, in Japan. Many were burned by the atomic bombs and fire bombing. Some were brought to the United States to be brought to some semblance of normality. There were also the thousands of American soldiers disfigured in the wars. After this died down, these skills and techniques were used in the pursuit of beauty.

051215_laser_100x90Doctors during the US occupation of Japan injected young women’s breasts with transformer coolant to enlarge them. By the 1960s, topless showgirls in Las Vegas had liquid silicone pumped into their breasts. The American Society of Plastic Surgery described small breasts as a deformity and a disease.

In every US state, any physician with a license can perform any medical procedure whether they’re board certified or not. Even if they haven’t had special training in that procedure. A psychiatrist has a medical degree, therefore he/she can do liposuction and facelifts. Dermatologists and obstetricians are starting to expand their options, earning money from doing facelifts and Botox injections.

This is, however, not limited to physicians. Some dentists want to do rhinoplasty. I have an oral surgeon friend who does Botox on the side for extra money. He also does procedures to take away moles.


An example of an ad for a clinic

These doctors find their patients using slick ad campaigns. Filmed commercials really do help. A brochure targeting surgeons said, “More and more, consumers are choosing the better marketer — and not the better surgeon.” According to Economist, in 2003, the beauty business spent between 32-40 billion in advertising, but took in 160 billion in sales. This is a huge business, and it helps that people are attracted to products and procedures that are marketed to look really really good. Ooh, look at the shinee!

Nowadays, a typical plastic surgery center is more like a restaurant. They focus on moving endless lines of patients through their operating suites ASAP, and then marketing things like skin care and counseling to get more bucks.

This also helps the companies that make the equipment the doctors use. A good example is the laser systems for removing tattooes and wrinkles.

Heavy Makeup

Part 3 of Chapter 10 of the book Looks

106376261_ukhTN-S-3Consider those addicted to plastic surgery. These are the people who risk their lives and spend millions to chase after what Dr. Patzer calls artificial perfection. They are the people who appear “abnormal” but look forward to their next procedures.

There’s the case of the 34 year old porn actress “Jen X.” She had Botox multiple times, a chin implant, and breast augmentation. She reported to Hustler magazine that she was afraid that she was getting addicted to plastic surgery. She still pays monthly for silicone injections to her lips, a highly illegal procedure which is fraught with danger. She knows, but is driven by the need to compete. Jen X said, “The more surgery everyone else gets, the more I have to get to keep up.”

Only in your mind, sadly.

There’s also Rhiannon, a woman in quest for bigger boobs. Her breasts now weigh 10 pounds each. That’s 20 pounds total! Talk about back pain. Their size is 48MMM. This began in 1991. She has had 30 surgeries on her right breast alone. 

There’s something about my personality that big is never big enough. If I’m going to do it, I’m going all the way.

She added that she wants still-larger implants.

Another good example is the Beverly Hills realtor Elaine Young. In 1979, she saw a silicone injection in the face of a friend and wanted it. She went to her friend’s doctor, who told her that he’d make her beautiful. That was all she had to hear.

At first, Young was pleased with the results. However, the silicone migrated and interfered with her facial nerves. When the doctor tried to remove the silicone, the surgery left the left side of her face paralyzed for two years. Young blames her silicone injection for the downfall of three of her six marriages. The doctor who injected her committed suicide.

brokenwindowYoung said,

It’s typical insecurity that leads women to [cosmetic surgery]. I don’t care what they say; most of the women who do it are either aging, and they want to look younger, or they’re very insecure.

Read the entire, original Hustler article here.

Many people addicted to plastic surgery suffer from BDD (as written in an earlier post). They often look for ways to deal with an imaginary or trivial defect in their appearance. They can spend lots of time and energy picking at their skin or looking into a mirror. Or wearing a hat or heavy makeup. An article in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology reports that as many as 3 million Americans may have this disorder. Among them are those with the money and resources to pay for countless surgeries.

A spokesman for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons said that there are some well-balanced people who have many surgeries. But at the same time, another group is not happy with whatever you do.


Katharine Hepburn went to see him after her bout with skin cancer

Dr. Z. Paul Lorenc sees these addicts frequently. His practice has attracted notables like CEOs and even Katharine Hepburn. Most of his patients are the ultrarich who live in opulent homes near his offices. His book describes the reality of dealing with a society that more and more wants to be perfect in appearance. Some patients lie about their medical histories. Some lie about the  medicines they’re taking.

One male patient was taking steroids but wouldn’t tell me. He wanted a facelift and nothing would stop him. I’ve never seen a patient’s face bleed so much in my life.

Scalpel_smallIn cases like this, says Lorenc, the plastic surgeon is to refuse to do surgery. He gives another example, this time of a guy who thought he had an awful acne scar. Dr. Lorenc saw nothing. The worst thing he could have done would have been to operate, because then the poor guy would have had a real scar.

Maybe we are growing into a culture that is endlessly fixated on appearance. Seeing media images refuels and reinforces the notion that physical attractiveness must be had at all costs.


A Lust for Beauty

Part 2 of Chapter 10 of the book Looks

There is little stigma attached to improving one’s looks with a doctor’s help. Small, specialized clinics have sprung up, and most of the people who go to these clinics are pleased with what they get.

A waiting room at the Florida Center

A waiting room at the Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat

However, many who have spent the big bucks to make themselves prettier do regret this. Melanie, 41 years old, was desperate for bigger breasts. She scrimped and saved, finally putting her car as security for a loan. As Boca Raton News reported, she doesn’t love what she got. One breast is over a full cup size larger than the other. Melanie also suffers from sharp, chronic pains in her left breasts. Allegedly a nurse stabbed her with scissors during stitch removal. This caused unbearable pain. Along with 22 others, she sued the clinic she went to: the Florida Center for Cosmetic Surgery. 

Another of those that have pending cases with the center is Mona Alley. She lost both legs to infection when her intestine was punctured during a tummy tuck. After the procedure, she felt really sick. After 2 weeks of the doctor saying that Alley would be fine, he found pockets of air in her abdomen, water in her lungs, and blood clots in her legs. According to Alley’s lawyer, the doctor had cut her intestines accidentally. Her intestines then leaked feces into her abdomen.

operating_room2That’s not all. Between 1997-2004, at least 36 individuals died in Florida as a result of complications from cosmetic surgery.

Maybe it was bad luck, or not. These unfortunate people and others should have done their operations in a real hospital, not a clinic of doctor’s office. Between 1994-1998, 20 out of 100,000 died after lipo at a clinic. That’s a higher death rate than for people in motor vehicle accidents.

Olivia Goldsmith

Olivia Goldsmith

Still, there’s the disturbing case of Olivia Goldsmith. A best-selling novelist, she checked into the expensive and well known Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat. She wanted a chin tuck to remove some loose skin under her chin.

Goldsmith had gone on several surgeries before to improve her appearance, so this was nothing new. Even the characters in her novels had plastic surgery and popped Botox often. “If there was anyone who should have understood the risks–and perhaps the futility–of burnishing one’s outside when one feels ugly inside, it was Olivia Goldsmith.”

For some reason, Goldsmith chose general anesthesia instead of the less risky local anesthesia. However, problems started even before the surgeon picked up his knife. Goldsmith had convulsive spasms, then slipped into a coma. She never regained consciousness and died 8 days later.

She was 55 years old.

The medical examiner concluded that Goldsmith’s death was due to anesthesia issues. The staff had failed to monitor her respiration and carbon dioxide levels.

The day after her death, another patient at the same hospital died of complications from anesthesia. The hospital was fined.

Even bad things can happen at big hospitals.


Stella Obasanjo

Americans who can’t afford places like Manhattan may go to Spain, which has the largest number of plastic surgeons per capita in Europe. They have performed over 350,000 procedures, trailing only Brazil and the States. Their clinics attract Arab potentates and world dignitaries. An example is Stella Obasanjo, the wife of Nigeria’s president. She died during her tummy tuck. 

Gregorio Nosovsky’s business cards identify him as an MD. However, he never finished medical school or got his degree. Nosovsky has appeared on TV talk shows as a medical expert. He and his brother Isaac, who does have a medical license, performed lots of procedures and made a lot of money.

Nosovsky was arrested after a woman told authorities that she had suffered complications after breast surgery done by Gregorio. Isaac tried to fix the problems, but he only made things worse. After this was reported, 35 more came out with similar stories.

What about the people who spend and spend on surgery and look like monsters? They’re still somehow under the delusion that more surgery will fix things.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson: It just gets worse and worse

The most famous example is Michael Jackson. Rumor has it that he has had surgery more than a dozen times. (Probably true, too.) The results were grotesque. (WHY? WHY??) Dermatologists think that he might have had Botox in his forehead and cosmetic surgery on his nose, eyes, and chin. He might have been injected with some unlawful compound to lighten his skin, and has tattooed eyebrows and eyeliner.

My grandma has tattooed eyebrows and eyeliner because she wanted to save time on her lengthy beauty regimen every morning. She wears heavy makeup, and she wanted the make up look without having to spend any more time on it. The poor guy kept asking her if she was sure she wanted to, and he was scared, but she was set on being beautiful and saving time, so she had it done.

Cindy Jackson: the living Barbie

Cindy Jackson: the living Barbie

There’s also Cindy Jackson, no relation to Michael. She wrote an autobiography called Living Doll. Jackson felt that her appearance was lacking. After inheriting some money, she had the procedures. After nine, Jackson looked like the Barbie doll she’d always wanted to look like. By now she’s had 28 operations, and her transformation, she says, is nearly complete.

*feels nauseous* 

28 operations is too much. What do you think?



Broken Mirrors

Part 1 of Chapter 9 in the book Looks

In this chapter, Dr. Patzer talks about the dark side of physical attractiveness. He tells us facts about anorexia, bulimia, and other unhealthy behavior that may occur.

Deleese Williams

Deleese Williams

The chapter starts with talking about a woman named Deleese Williams. He describes her like this.

Her jaw was deformed, crooked teeth crowded her mouth, her eyes drooped, and her breasts were hard to find.

She had a childhood of endless horror. Her classmates made fun of her. Her marriage was a disaster, with her husband abusing her and letting her know constantly that she wasn’t much to look at. 

Williams had hope when she heard about Extreme Makeover. This was a reality program that gave ugly people like Williams the gift of beauty. People enjoyed watching that show, for whatever reasons. Anyway, she applied to the show in 2003. The producers were delighted. Soon, Williams was meeting with the executives and team. Describing it, she said that the psychologist and the physicians told her that she “needed” her eyes lifted, her ears pulled back, and breast implants as well as chin implants. They also concluded that dental surgery was needed. They promised her that the free makeover would “transform her life and destiny.”

250px-XtrememakeoverHowever, the producers wanted to let the audiences see how being ugly is so very problematic. Beauty is good, and its absence is bad, after all. Remember our first post? They sat Williams in front of a camera and had her describe how being ugly had invited the cruel teasing and abuse by her husband. Even though her family didn’t notice (or pretended not to notice) her ugliness, they were coached to focus on her flaws.

Kellie McGee, Williams’s sister, was reluctant to trash her sister. The producers essentially forced her to do so, however. 

It was tough for Deleese to take. She thought it would be all worth it. Williams believed that her real life could begin at last… happy endings.

Then the bomb fell.

A producer told her that the makover, cosmetic surgery… all off. Why? It didn’t fit in the show’s time frame. The doctors told her that the recovery time and surgery would take a much longer time than the duration of the show.

The tragic part, says her attorney, was that she became too ashamed to go out in public. Even worse, her sister, who had been forced to speak disparagingly about Williams’s looks, killed herself. She had beens struggling with bipolar disorder for some time.

ABC and Disney offered their condolences, yet said that they bore no responsibility since Deleese had known that they could call the whole thing off at any time.

empty-plateBeyond this example, physical appeal centered media messages continues to encourage unhealthy conditions on millions.

Eating disorders have become common in America. This is accompanied by a preoccupation with food and weight, and those with an ED often share physical symptoms with those who have experienced starvation. This is also marked by an obsession with food.

In 2003, a team led by Dr. Hans Steiner of Stanford University learned that mothers with eating disorders demonstrated greater concern over their children’s eating habits. By the time the children were age 5, they displayed the same symptoms found in teenagers with eating disorders. He was surprised to learn that half of the children of elementary age wanted to weight less. Three-fourths cited their family as the primary source of dieting related information.

There are three distinct types of eating disorders, not counting EDNOS.

1. Binge eating

2. Bulimia Nervosa

3. Anorexia Nervosa

3092_MEDIUMBinge eating is uncontrolled eating. It’s frequent, and very common. It’s accompanied by the feeling of being out of control. People who binge eat often feel depressed, guilty, or disgusted when they do so. 

I know a few girls who have problems with binge eating. In fact, I know a lot. However, in their case, the binge is followed by a purge. This brings us to bulimia nervosa.

The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine has described this condition as a serious, life-threatening eating disorder affecting mainly young women. They eat large amounts of food, then try to lose all the calories by fasting, exercising, or vomiting or using laxatives. This is known as “purging.” At first, it was hailed as a new weight loss trick. The women could eat whatever they want, and then throw it up later. They’re not gaining any calories, and they still get the cravings down, right?

Wrong. This is an extremely unhealthy practice. It’s even considered a psychiatric illness. 

248012174_7b1ca0a9aaOver 2 million people suffer from this. In rare instances, bingeing can cause the stomach to burst. Purging brings heart failure from loss of vital minerals. Vomiting leads to acid-related scarring of the fingers (once I saw a site where a girl, knowing this, encouraged her friends to vomit using the end of a toothbrush instead of their fingers). The esophagus becomes inflamed from acid burns. There’s also irregular menstruation, to name only a few.

Few are able to stop this behavior without professional help. It seems to me that they have really lost control. 90% are women in their teens or early 20s. Many live secret lives in that they appear to be doing well on the outside, but run off after meals to purge in their bathrooms.

The root causes remain mysterious. Maybe it could be genetic and environmental. It could be due to family pressures, like in the case of one girl I know. Girls with eating disorders often have fathers, mothers, brothers, or boyfriends who criticize their weight. 

I do know some people who are bulimics but starve themselves for periods. This brings us to anorexia nervosa, a still more dangerous condition. 

367429618_9d69054abcAnorexia nervosa is self-induced starvation. The person with it refuses to eat. Even though she’s becoming thinner and thinner, she still sees herself as far too heavy. A few starve themselves to death, but most have life-shortening health disorders from lack of nutrients.

This disorder brings the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric illness. 6% to 10% die. That’s a higher rate than for cancer. It’s the most challenging disorder to treat, as it involves dealing with the physical and emotional issues as well as with body image distortion. 

Dr. Joel Jahraus, a nationally known expert on eating disorders, talked about one of his patients. Her name was Anna Westin, and he described her as a lovely young woman. However, she struggled with anorexia nervosa. Her body weight was dangerously low, and her moods changed fast. Dr. Jahraus, seeing this, recommended hospitalization.

Anna Westin

Anna Westin

However, the insurance company didn’t want that. They said that she wasn’t ill enough to get hospitalized. For a brief time, though, they agreed. She was stabilized with IV nutrition and psychological work. After that, the company declared that she should be treated as an outpatient. When Anna found out, she lost  motivation to continue treatment. “I can’t be that bad,” she said.

A few weeks later, Anna intentionally took her own life by swallowing an overdose of diet pills.

Her parents established the Anna Westin Foundation, which was dedicated to the prevention and treatment of eating disorders and raising public awareness to the cause. This included the Anna Westin House, which combines treatment with cost-effective care. Maybe it’s something you should look into.

I  have also seen many sites raised to help those struggling with eating disorders. No, it’s not what you think. These sites offer tips (links not for the faint-hearted) on how to purge without parents and friends finding out. There’s lots of tips on how to disguise that you’re starving yourself, with pictures of bony celebrities as inspiration to starve. Many of these girls, looking for acceptance, turn to these sites to find it. At least they’ll find someone who understands what they’re going through, they think. They’re encouraged by words like, “Stay strong! Starve on!” Sometimes these words are what keeps them going when they’re discouraged. After a while, they start believing that they are not ill. No, it’s a lifestyle choice.

WOODENSCALEPHOTOThe danger in real recovery is that if one of the girls (or guys) visit the sites, they’ll lose their resolve and continue with the “lifestyle.” Their friends will berate them for not being strong enough and not starving like they’re supposed to. I knew a girl who was the biggest tip giver for anorexics and bulimics. She got tons of comments and praise for her “smartness and courage.” And then all of a sudden, something happened. She decided that this wasn’t the way to go. She decided that this could not continue, and she better get healthy as opposed to skinny before she lost it all. 

She lost her audience. People didn’t say anything. They ignored her. For a person who had received upward of 50 comment per post, that was hard for her.

It’s so easy to shatter.

Just looking at the pictures of celebrities that these girls use to keep them starving, don’t tell me that the media has no hand in it. I remember when one of the celebrities (forgot her name) was said to have an eating disorder. There was buzz, and many of my friends praised her as an inspiration and a strong woman for trying to starve herself to perfection.

I felt nauseated.

We shouldn’t be focused on our own bodies when we have this in the world. We shouldn’t be pushing ourselves to starve to skeletons when there actually are children in Africa who have no choice but to starve every single day of their lives. 26,000 children perish every day due to preventable causes: poverty, disease, and hunger. 

Maybe the problem is that we’re too used to looking at ourselves instead of others. We gaze at ourselves in the mirror, and we fail to see the crisis happening around us.

A starving child in Uganda

A starving child in Uganda


Perfume and Acne Concealer

Part 2 of Chapter 8 in the book Looks


Britney Spears

How about women of color? 

The ideal of feminine beauty on TV is being blue-eyed and thin. Dr. Carolyn Stroman says that an overwhelming number of models are white. A small number are black, and almost none are Asian. How does this make African American women feel, knowing that they can never look like Britney Spears? 

I remember the L’oreal scandal. People were saying that L’Oreal photoshopped Beyonce to make her whiter and thus more like the ideal.

However, L’Oreal maintained there has been no lightening of the singer’s complexion in the ads.

“We highly value our relationship with Ms Knowles. It is categorically untrue that L’Oreal Paris altered Ms Knowles’ features or skin tone in the campaign for Feria hair color,” the company said in a statement.

Beyonce: lightened or not?

Beyonce: lightened or not?

Researcher Karen Perkins says that these African American women “are immediately excluded from what is considered to be ‘beautiful.'” Her studies show that these women have been affected by this standard. Many of them have warped feelings about beauty and their physical attractiveness. A study of 66 college-aged black women found that 76% wanted a lighter skin color.

Perkins suggests that parents of young black girls sit down and discuss media messages with their children after watching TV. Dr. Patzer commends this advice, and emphasizes that this is good advice for ALL parents, and not just parents of black girls or women of color. I agree.


Beautiful models are used to advertise enhancing products, like this expensive ring.

Beautiful models are used to advertise enhancing products, like this expensive ring.

Two professors, Martin and Gentry (I don’t remember their first names), did a complex study to see what happens when both adolescents and younger girls are exposed to beautiful women in ads. They had two products, an enhancing product and a problem solving product. Martin and Gentry wanted to find out whether a beautiful model really affects how a product is sold in advertising. It’s kind of a bit complicated to say here, but what they found suggests that there may be a link with beliefs about a model’s expertise with a particular problem — i.e., a problem solving product like detergent, or acne concealer. Also, impressions they had of beauty had little relation to how much they trusted the model. Meanwhile, beautiful models were useful with enhancing products like lipstick or earrings. 


NM-20MK_mtThese two professors did a second study to validate the results of the first study. The enhancing product this time was perfume. The problem-solving product they used was dandruff shampoo. For some reason, although the average looking model was perceived as having a more normal life than the attractive one, the highly attractive model was perceived as more trustworthy. Maybe because people think that an attractive person acts because he/she wants to, whereas the unattractive is seen as more easily coerced and manipulated? Who knows?


Acne concealer

The researchers then concluded that while very attractive models are effective in selling selling products like perfume or jewelry, they were no better than the average looking model when it came to selling products like acne concealer or dandruff shampoo. Marketers need to consider the type of product carefully when selecting their models. They also concluded, unsurprisingly, that more research was needed.

Another study was done by Hilda Dittmar and Sarah Howard of the University of Sussex. They wanted to refute a claim by Premier Model Management which stated that “if you stick a beautiful skinny girl on the cover of a magazine you sell more copies.”

So the two women recruited 75 women from a fashion advertising company and 75 secondary school teachers. Within each group, one-third was shown images of thin models, another one-third was shown images of average size models, and the last third was the control and shown ads without models.

The study was quite interesting, but I can’t relate it in much detail. It involved photoshop and body manipulation, which is stretching out a thin model’s body to make her appear average size. Several conclusions were drawn.

First, the ads with attractive but average size models were seen to be equally persuasive as the ads with the skinny models. This was the same for the teachers and the fashion advertising workers.

Second, although the ladies in advertising were slightly more critical of ads, this had no linkage to the models’ sizes. Maybe it had something to do with the ladies’ jobs.

51JW8PZWG0L._AA280_Next, only the women who believed in the ideal “thin” body felt anxious at seeing the images. It’s what you might expect. They felt less anxiety after seeing the average size models.

Another thing. The anxiety effect was far more extreme in teachers than in advertising workers. Maybe it’s because they’re immune to a certain extent after working in the advertising business for so long. But still, there was anxiety, though to a lesser extent. The advertising workers felt no anxiety at seeing the average sized models.

These researchers concluded that it’s the thinness of models and not their attractiveness that makes people worry.

Dr. Patzer states that these are not the only studies, and that other researchers suspect that many women now resent ads that insist on promoting unattainable beauty, as well as the media and advertisers.


Under the Knife

0764578359Cosmetic Surgery for Dummies

Cosmetic surgery is a hot topic! These days, every daytime talk show, popular magazine, late night show, salon conversation, daily newspaper, lunch with the girls, locker room discussion, fashion magazine, and yes, even reality TV shows covers the subject, sooner or later.

In this book, cosmetic surgery is being marketed as something that’s not only normal but also popular. More people are getting it nowadays than ever before.

Yes, I’m just doing research to see what the fuss is about. I’m not planning to get anymore. 

Part I: Considering Cosmetic Surgery, chapter 1

According to the writers of this book, now is the golden age of cosmetic surgery. It’s making people happee. Very happee. It’s no longer for the famous, brave, and rich, but for us poor, frightened, unfamous people. It’s literally for the teeming masses yearning to be prettee. They go on to say that it has taken center stage in the self-improvement world.

Self-improvement = getting bigger bazooms?



lego bricksDefining the terms that you’ll see: The plastic in plastic surgery isn’t the plastic Lego that you trip on all the time in your son’s room. The “plastic” comes from a Greek word “plastikos” which means to shape and mold. Plastic surgeons mold your body and skin to make you easier on the eyes.

There’s also a difference in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Cosmetic surgery improves the form, while reconstructive surgery improves function.

Before I go on, I should say that I am familiar with all two terms pretty well. I’ve had both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. I was born with my left ear deformed. It didn’t look prettee. It didn’t look like an ear. Besides that, I had only 50% hearing on that ear. So when I was 7, I had my first surgery. I think this one was cosmetic surgery. In the years afterwards, I had both cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries. And surgery sucks, let me tell you that. I spent most of my time throwing up into a pink pail. It’s not fun, so if you’re really thinking about cosmetic surgery, think very hard. Very hard. Is “beauty” worth the misery? It might not be.

EarringHere are the details: they tried to enlarge my ear canal so that the ear drum wouldn’t be blocked, and also so I could pick up more sound. Another guy tried to make it look like a real ear by  taking skin grafts from my hips and cartilage from one of my ribs. He said that the rib would grow back, but it hasn’t, so long afterwards. It still doesn’t look like an ear, but I’ve learned to accept it. This may be the golden age of cosmetic surgery, but we’re still nowhere near perfect. Even now they tell me that there’s really nothing more they can do to make it look more like a real ear.

In cosmetic surgery, a man with a weak chin gets surgery to alter his profile. A 60 year old gets a facelift. Cosmetic surgery is working with the normal and making it abnormal. (Kidding.) It’s supposed to make you look more beautiful.

The rate of procedures that are done is growing. Soon, you won’t know anyone who hasn’t had something done.

Reconstructive surgery works with a body part that is abnormal and makes it more normal. Most of what I had done belongs under this category.

However, what I had was a blend of both cosmetic and reconstructive.

Later on in the chapter, the writers talk about cultural ideals. Cosmetic surgery deals with the ideal appearance, which is shaped by culture and time. Nowadays, there’s an emphasis on youth and physical appeal. People who don’t look like the ideals are left out and shunned. The writers go on to say that while many people think that this is shallow, it’s impossible to be part of society and not be affected by these expectations. 

Your views of beauty are defined, reinforced, or challenged by the world around you.

E-5092-Purple_ShoesAn example would be the bound feet that Chinese women considered beautiful in days long gone by. Now we’d think that that was a horrible practice, and it was. It kept the women from walking normally! However, that was beauty. A bound foot also distinguished a higher class woman from a peasant woman.

The writers point out that it’s not just actors or entertainers who’ve gone under the knife. Professors, secretaries, and grocers have as well. “Seeing results everywhere may make you yearn for a personal change.”

Who gets cosmetic surgery?

Men do. 18% of them want the same procedures that their girlfriends have, like eyelid lifts, liposuction, or breast reduction, believe it or not. However, these procedures have to be modified a little for the guys.


Beyonce: a celebrity who has gotten breast augmentations

Beyonce: a celebrity who has gotten breast augmentations

Young people also get this surgery. In 2003, 336,000 people younger than 18 got cosmetic surgeries. Most of these were facial peels or nose reshaping. Parent consent is needed for a minor. However, for ages 19-25, the number of cosmetic procedures is exploding. The people in this age group usually get breast augmentations and liposuction. They read the magazines and watch the TV shows. Maybe they’re looking for romance, so how they look and feel about themselves is extremely important. “They’re not going to suffer in silence; they’re going to get it fixed,” proclaims the writers.

SINGLE ROSE AND VASEWhoa. So having an “ugly” nose means great suffering? Get it fixed? “I need to fix my small breasts, they’re deformed.” What?

Older people also join the ranks of those lining up to make themselves beautiful. Despite their age, (or maybe because of it) they want to look good. Youthfulness may be the key to keeping their job. Or it may just be an expression of how active and vital they still are. 

There’s also kids and teens. Getting a procedure may solve some of the teasing problems. Like severe acne can be minimized by a laser peel.

I want to add that while teasing is a sadly frequent problem in middle school and high school, getting a laser peel isn’t going to solve the problem. Bullies will tease, and if they can’t find anything to tease you about, they’ll make up something. Maybe you might not get teased, but someone else is going to get teased. And what’s getting a laser peel teaching us? Go teased, go get expensive procedure so you’ll fit in better. Get teased about weight, starve yourself. It’s not solving any real problems, especially for an insecure teenager.

I’m happy that the writers do emphasize that you don’t NEED the surgery. You want it. Is cosmetic surgery something that you’ll ever need? No. If you do feel that you need it, then you need to think about it again. If you do want it, why do you want it? To keep up with fashion trends? Because everyone else is doing it? Someone  you want to impress? To feel good?

Think hard. It’s surgery, and you can’t reverse it or bring the money back if you’re unhappy about your choice.