American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals
 

Body positivity and plastic surgery


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The body positivity movement is paving the way for women to feel confident, comfortable and proud of their bodies. Since 2012, women have been pushing back against the Barbie-like figures depicted in advertisements and on television. The focus of the body positivity movement is that there is not one type or standard for beauty, but that instead, all bodies are beautiful.

Dove commercials were a memorable first glimpse into loving ourselves and our own skin and accepting the genetics of our body type. Now, even the athletic-wear catalogs I get in the mail are showing women of all shapes and sizes sporting their yoga gear. Many e-commerce sites have also adopted to the times, and women can see their favorite pair of jeans shown on a variety of body types to better see themselves in the clothes they are buying.

Empowering young women

As a woman and a mother to a daughter myself, I am so relieved that we are finally sending the right message to girls. There are so many different body types and genetic differences between us all, and we are each beautiful because of those differences.

Through this cultural shift, I am hopeful that young women will be empowered by positive self-talk, a heightened self-esteem and a reduction in the anxiety, depression and eating disorders that have taxed my own generation. Without unrealistic standards of perfection, I am hopeful they will learn to love who they are and embrace all that is beautiful.

How does this fit with plastic surgery?

So, what does this mean for plastic surgery? Body positivity is an incredible message, and one that truly melds well with what we do as plastic surgeons. We know all too well that the aesthetic procedures we offer are not a quick fix or a total makeover. Instead, when tastefully done, plastic surgery is a way to optimize someone's body to make them as comfortable as possible in their own skin.

I am even seeing a change in the way my patients talk about surgery. They sit down for their consultation and tell me that they eat healthy, they exercise and that genetically they are very comfortable with the body they are in. They aren't asking to look like Victoria's Secret models. They are requesting natural and tasteful procedures that make them feel their very best and interact as their best self with their loved ones and the world. They feel and look beautiful, and their attitudes radiate just that, no matter what their body type.

Not one size fits all

Plastic surgery is not about making everyone look the same, but about embracing what makes us unique and beautiful as an individual. For some, it means accentuating something they are already very proud or, or for others optimizing something to make them happy. There is no one-size-fits all approach, and we are here as physicians to help these patients with our unique skill set on their journey to health and wellness.

Surgery is not for everyone. But a woman should also be supported if she does choose to have a procedure or surgery for her own personal reasons. An extension of body positivity means non-judgment for what an individual decides, and we should avoid shaming those who make decisions that differ from our own.

There is so much to learn from this new focus on body positivity, and I think there is no better avenue to open that discussion than in our field of plastic surgery. We as doctors are here to help our patients in any way that we can, and we are excited to be a part of that journey if that is something you choose.


The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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