Empowering Every Woman to be Beautiful

Is Cosmetic Surgery the " New Beauty?"

I spend an inordinate number of hours in local bookstores, both independent (we have one left in my small city) and the big names like Border’s or B&N. Some days I curl up in an overstuffed chair with an espresso and a copy of a new book I’m considering for purchase. Other days I go straight for the magazine rack and check out the latest fashion and beauty trends.

This past Wednesday, I visited the local Barnes & Noble with my guy. He grabbed a table in the coffee shop while I browsed the periodicals. A bright, polished magazine as plump as the September Vogue, caught my eye. It’s name? New Beauty.

It’s wasn’t the first time this stunning, high gloss, (heavily retouched) magazine had gotten my attention. About a year ago, I’d noticed it lined up next to Elle and Harper’s Bazaar and I assumed it was another women’s magazine on all things frivolous and fun.

To my surprise, and slight horror, I learned that this publication was far from fun or frivolous. This magazine, with its contributor’s page heavily weighted with photos of top surgeons and dermatologists, was very serious business. Its entire content dealt with achieving “beauty.” I know. Most women’s magazines deal with that topic. It gets trite after a while. You’d think all we think about are clothes, makeup and sex (or just sex, if you read Cosmo).

But New Beauty wasn’t touting new lip colors, it was touting new lips! And foreheads and necks, etc. Most of the articles were about cosmetic surgery. The few articles about other topics, like makeup, had a very, well, intense feel about them. The makeup brands were the kind you find at doctor’s offices (recommended for wear after cosmetic surgery), not the Clinique counter.

I should add a side note here. I’m not against cosmetic surgery, in general; Heck, I’d love to change my nose (see above photo of reject nose). I’ve always hated how it looks in photos. But there is something disturbing to me about an entire magazine devoted to slicing up a human face (or neck, or tummy, etc.). Most of the women featured had opted for multiple surgeries on everything from their eyes to their butts.

And even worst, the name of the magazine: New Beauty. The implication being that faces altered under the knife will be considered “standard” beauty in the very near future.

That can’t be good.

Standing there at the magazine rack, I thought, I’m going to read this magazine and write a scathing review on my blog. When I got back to the little round table where my honey had two herbal teas waiting, I slapped the magazine down. As I meticulously read through each article and personal account (a young woman gave her “success” story of her 3 rhinoplasty surgeries), I grew more disgusted, just as I knew I would. Everything in this magazine seemed to say to women, “You’re not good enough the way you are.” And that upsets me.

I understand that some could argue that makeup, in a way, sends the same message. My rebuttal is this: Makeup temporarily alters a face. It’s sort of like an accessory. A fun way to play dress up. While paying thousands of dollars (and risking one’s life) to change the face or body begs for a lot more forethought.

By page 30 or so I was sure of my stand on this magazine. But then I came across something that made me pause: Before and after photos of women who’d changed their faces in some way to look more youthful.

The idea of that annoyed me, but when I looked at the pictures of the women, I couldn’t deny how lovely they looked. Their faces weren’t stretched back to their ears, giving a frightened look. The cheeks that were plumped with injections just appeared fuller, not fake. And a few of the women looked so beautiful in their after photos that I didn’t realize they were the same people! Seriously. But, I stress, none of them looked like wax dolls.

They looked like themselves, only better. A litany of questions ran through my mind. Self esteem, even life success, has been linked to how we see ourselves. If we feel attractive, many times we approach life with more confidence. Were these women so misguided in going under the knife to feel better about their looks? Was I being self righteous? Will I feel as vehement about all of this when I look in the mirror and see a map of wrinkles across my skin?

I don’t have answers. At least not at this time. What I do have is a more open mind about cosmetic surgery. I’m still not as comfy with New Beauty as I am with More, but I realize that could simply be my own prejudice.

What do you think of cosmetic surgery? Would you ever go under the knife?

Also, check out the New Beauty site. You can upload a picture of yourself and “alter” it in varying ways, if you so choose.