Certainly, modern culture ideals often motivate women to get their breasts enlarged. And it is interesting to ponder whether the modern ideal is a cause or effect of plastic surgery. That is, is the plastic surgeon’s beauty ideal driving the cultural norm? Or, are new ideals developed by art, a handful of iconic sex symbols, and driven by a few ‘connectors’ (as Malcom Gladwell would call them), and simply reflected in a plastic surgeon’s work satisfying their patient’s desire? What is the chicken and egg?
From the thin, flat-chested flappers of the roaring 20s to the Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page voluptuous pin-up beauties, physical attractiveness norms have made some radical paradigm changes in just a span of 4 or 5 decades. Now, with the advent of artificial enhancement, larger breasts are just a scalpel away. Bigger lips can be yours in under 20 minutes. So it makes sense that this immediate availability to alter oneself may foster yet another paradigm shift of beauty – one of “bigger is better.” What do you think?
And if plastic surgeon’s are somewhat responsible for shifting beauty norms, where does it end? It is a little alarming that if this is a realty, then every new procedure to enhance beauty can take humans down a road where features become exaggerated simply because we “can”. We can make lips bigger and breasts an butts, but how big is big enough? The bar becomes constantly raised, and in a roller coaster fashion, we see trends fluctuate when thresholds are met that put the normal into abnormal. Normal becomes gray because beauty is so subjective and time and culturally dependent.
In some ways one could argue that plastic surgeons may not only be recreating norms, but we are also recreating beauty priorities that are a direct result of what we can do safely and easily. Lips, breasts, and abdomens can be modified with time tested, safe surgeries. However, foot reduction for women or hand enlargement in men are not feasible options. But if they were, how small would the ideal foot become? Or how large would the ideal man’s hand become? Only time will tell. Until then…