Have You Had Your Botox Today?

“Cosmetic surgery has become the new makeup,” reads a line in last week’s Time Magazine. The normalization and the democratization of plastic surgery in America is happening fast.

plastic-final-cover1“In the U.S., doctors performed over 15 million cosmetic procedures in 2014, a 13% increase from 2011 and more than twice as many as in 2000. Most of the nearly $13 billion Americans spend on cosmetic procedures is for surgery–lipo and boob jobs are consistently the top moneymakers.

But it’s the cheaper, nonsurgical procedures that have become commonplace. U.S. doctors perform more than five times as many nonsurgical procedures as surgeries, delivering 3.6 million rounds of Botox (and other non-name-brand injectable neuromodulators), along with 1.7 million shots of Juvederm, Restylane and similar fillers. Dermatologists have gone from doctors to beauticians…

An industry that was once exclusively for rich Beverly Hills and Manhattan women has been thoroughly democratized. In 2005 more than two-thirds of cosmetic-surgery patients in the U.S. made $60,000 or less. Most people getting nonsurgical procedures probably made less. As of 2007 the city with the most plastic surgeons per capita was Salt Lake City.”

The article goes on to talk about our increasing tolerance for what is “anatomically improbable” – a Barbie-sized waist, the older woman with wrinkle-free skin – and our “strict but ever moving boundaries of acceptability for cosmetic procedures.” A good boob job is just taking care of yourself; a face lift or Botox injection is just upkeep, like regular exercise or a simple mani-pedi. Last year, a survey by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery found that 52% of us are considering aesthetic treatment (up from 30% in 2012).

Back in the 30s and 40s, women were concerned about wanting to gain 10 pounds, because a shapelier woman was more beautiful, but now the opposite is true. The waves of our culture carry us along until we are swept up in the current beauty fads.

“The expectation of physical perfection hits modern females early and often. In middle school, girls cut themselves to deal with the pressures of conforming to the ideal. In middle age, women do, too—but allow the surgeon to hold the knife. We carve the record of our self-loathing into the very flesh of our bodiesa self-marring, a literal carving of an idol. Increasingly, physical perfection is the legacy of womanhood in our culture, handed down with meticulous care from mother to daughter, with more faithful instruction in word and deed than we can trouble to devote to cultivating kindness, peacemaking, and acceptance that characterize unfading, inner beauty,” says Jen Wilkin, a women’s ministry leader and teacher.

The implications of this, for the Christian, are huge, right? How are we to think about this as the church, as a people who are called to be set apart from the cultural current? Because the reality is, those of us even at The Crossing are not exempt from the pressures that enfold us – in particular the pressure of the “just this little fix” procedure.

For those who claim to follow Christ, I think there are a few reminders that would do us well to think about:

  1. There is not one way a woman should look. Our culture reinforces the idea that there is only one standard of beauty – the woman who is shapely in all the right places, whose face and hair look a certain way. But this is a narrow way of thinking about beauty. The Lord, in his creativity, made all human beings unique. Even if we all had perfect relationships with food and exercise and were perfectly healthy, we would look many different ways. Our view of beauty needs to be expanded.
  1. Physical perfection will never be attainable, but holiness is. Where are we devoting our energy? How much time (and money) do we spend changing outfits and reapplying makeup and coloring our hair, and how much time are we spending in God’s Word, seeking to know Him more? I confess that for me, my priorities are often backwards. Happiness won’t come from my pursuit of physical change – but it will come from delighting in the One who made me.
  1. Our motivations matter. I would never say that all plastic surgery is bad, or that physical beauty is evil (after all, we’re made in the image of a God who creates beautiful things), but why are we doing the things we’re doing? Is it to magnify and draw attention to ourselves? Is it to push back the clock, to try in vain to stop the inevitable aging process? Ultimately, our motivations are between us and the Lord, and it is to him that we are to answer.



One Comment

  1. Caitlyn said:

    I agree with what you have said. Still, I would like to see the male version of this written. Women aren’t the only ones with body image problems and are not the only people taking action to make their bodies look a certain way.

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