Is cosmetic surgery mere vanity?Is cosmetic surgery mere vanity?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While some cosmetic surgery is performed to satisfy the vanity of a person, there are circumstances in which such surgery is not for mere vanity.  For instance, a baby may be born with ears that stick out, making this child a target for jokes and ridicule.  Is it vain for the parents to have the appearance of this child altered so that she/he can grow up with confidence and not be a target of stares and ridicule?  Nevertheless, this "perfecting" of one's looks can go too far; for example, some teens feel that if they change one feature or another they will become more appealing and acceptable to to others. Thus, putting too much emphasis upon the superficial looks of someone becomes a problem as it prevents young people from understanding the true values of people lie not in how they look.  Nevertheless, the way one looks affects how this person feels about him/herself.  And, in this youth and beauty-conscious society, personal appearance figures importantly into obtaining jobs, promotions, etc.  Reflecing this idea, in one of his novels, Dean Koontz has a character remark, "Perception is reality."  Indeed, in this country in which beauty is practically equated with superiority and goodness, this statement does hold true.  So, in the competition of our society it often helps a person to look "good."  In fact, studies show that 75% of a job interview is based upon how a person looks and presents him/herself to the interviewer.

It should be noted that plastic surgeons have helped many people live normal lives who would have otherwise been freakish. Many a soldier has been "repaired" thanks to such surgery. In the recent past a face transplant was performed on a woman whose entire face was mangled by a dog.  Burn and other accident victims have been restored to their former lives thanks to cosmetic/plastic surgery. Actors and actresses, especially, have been able to play certain leading roles longer thanks to cosmetic surgery, so these procedures have been investments in their jobs. 

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It really depends on why the person is having plastic surgery. I know a woman who had plastic surgery because she had breast cancer. There are many people who have plastic surgery to fix abnormalities.

In order for a person to feel the need to have plastic surgery, there must be some kind of underlying self esteem issues. Whatever the reason, if they have the money to do then it is their choice.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Cosmetic surgery is not always about vanity. First of all, there are legitimate and crucial uses of the surgery, such as after a car accident or in the case of birth defects. In other cases, plastic surgery is often the result of deep insecurities on the part of the person. This is why some people get repeated surgeries, even at the risk of their own health.