There were 1.7 million cosmetic surgical procedures performed in 2015, as reported by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The toppers of the list were breast augmentation and buttock lifts. “I like the Kardashians and Blac Chyna and I love the way their bodies look. They influenced me into getting breast implants,” says Ashley, a 21 year old, who will be seeing her cosmetic surgeon next month for a breast implant consultation after her boyfriend offered to pay off the expenses. “I want to look great for him and myself.”
According to a study done by American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive surgery (AAFPRS), 82% of surveyed cosmetic surgeons said that millennials cite social media and celebrities as a major influence in their personal perception. Younger and younger people are now saving up for cosmetic surgeries to remain looking as youthful and ‘picture-perfect’ as possible. Where some of us might look up to natural beauties like Amal Clooney, Emma Watson and Kate Middleton, other choose to pull inspiration from Instagram posts of Kylie Jenner, who has over 85 million followers and Huda Kattan of Huda Beauty with 17.3 million followers.
“These influencers and social media dominators don’t really realize how much influence they have on little girls. To me the are disrupting their minds and making them self-conscious instead of doing the opposite,” says Rebecca Pilozo of Rebecca’s Beauty Boudoir, a blog where she shares make- up looks.
A recent survey from Luster Premium White, a teeth whitening brand based in Boston shows that the prevalence of selfies is absolutely astounding: the average millennial will take 25,700 in their lifetime; it is claimed that females aged 16 to 25 spend five hours taking selfies per week; and on average, 93 million selfies are taken worldwide each day.
Last May, psychologist Dr. Tanya Byron told attendees at the Vogue Festival that, “sexualized, unrealistic images posted by celebrities are fuelling depression and eating disorders in young people.” An infatuation with uploading the “perfect selfie” or “egoportraits” on social media platforms is leading more and more teenagers to seek out cosmetic surgery to correct imperfections and erase those first wrinkles.
Beauty and anti-aging is a $999 billion global sector, as shown in the data collected by Global Wellness Institute in its 2017 Global Wellness Economy Monitor report. This has increased significantly in the last 5 years and is expected to keep rising. Millennials today do not want to look older than their teenaged selves. Cosmetic surgeries and intense make-up routines seem to be their go-to method when it comes to putting a stop to aging. “I get the injections every year now since I first started, so it's been three times now. Botox is anti-aging and I seriously believe it's the way of the future. If I can stay looking young for as long as possible then I'm on board,” says Anna D'Angelo, who decided to get Botox when she turned 22, after seeing older women in her family cringe at the sight of their facial wrinkles and other imperfections.
“There is always something out there to change the way you look,” says Pilozo. “Botox is like getting your nails done. Nobody blinks an eye at the mention of 16 year olds getting it done. Maybe this is what our society has become and I would like to see how far this can go.” Living in a world full of possibilities, Rebecca is very cautious of the message she sends out to her readers. “Do I really look like the person that I am on social media? I do not in any way, so I always make sure I keep that in mind when putting on makeup.”
We have come to a point where our social image is all that matters to us. It makes us who we are, when in reality, our Instagram accounts only reflect what we want others to think of us and not who we really are. “We all now have very limited attention spans and very little patience,” Elsa Godart told The Telegraph. “Only we forget that adolescence isn’t a very enjoyable time: we don’t know what we stand for or where we’re going, and we’re in a state of crisis, just as society is now.”
Insecurity is an unpleasant feeling. It makes us want to be a certain way, to be able to fit in. “ I never thought much of my lips but when Kylie [Jenner] got hers done, she looked great and I started to get insecure. I would over line my lips to make them look fuller but I could not pull it off. So lastly, I decided to get lip fillers,” says 21-year- old Samantha who loves the way she looks and his happy with her decision. The driving force behind these surgeries seems to be the factor that “they are not permanent” [and for the most part] “looks very natural,” says Samantha.
People are more open to cosmetic surgeries now than they have ever been. Most parents are starting to understand that their children live in a world full of expectations; Expectation to look great at all times, have a certain amount of followers on social media, drive a certain type of car, and wear certain brands of clothing. “My dad didn't even notice, but my mom did and at first she was reluctant [because] she said I didn't need [lip fillers] but then after a few weeks she liked them and even wanted to get them herself.” Beauty industry and its demographics are shifting quickly as our world moves faster than ever. It makes one wonder whether the Vogue editor controversy from seven years ago when a 10- year old model was casted for their editorial shoot, would even make it to the headlines in today’s date.
Plastic surgeons are treating clients as young as 16 years old and making claims that “The earlier you start, the better you will look as you age”. Their selling mantra seems to be to “tackle [wrinkles and insecurities] now while they’re still developing rather than waiting until they’ve fully developed,” says Dr. Arian, who is a cosmetic surgeon at Skinatomy of Mississauga. A millennial wish list now constitutes of a natural looking nose, whether it’s through contouring or surgeries, luscious and fuller lips, wrinkle-free, and big, round eyes, and bigger breasts and butt. They can achieve all that through a simple consultation with a professional followed by a regular cosmetic surgery.
“There is no harm in wanting to look good. We help you achieve that through professional help and procedures that don’t harm your body in any way. The best part is that they are temporary, so if you don’t like it, you won’t regret it for long”, says Dr. Tarshis of Skinatomy in Mississauga. One treatment lasts approximately six to nine months. Most millennials who have taken that first treatment go back from time to time to get it regularly now.
Despite the endless possibilities out there, do these teenagers who get facial and body enhancing treatments done on themselves at the young age of 14 onwards still feel like themselves when they look in the mirror? Do they still cherish their childhood pictures where their imperfections defined their innocence and beauty? Through Botox treatments, filler injections, and make-up techniques like contouring and highlighting, teenagers may never experience what puberty really is. Chasing perfection in a world full of imperfections is setting them up for failure from a very young age. Sure enough fashion has become lenient towards plus-sized models and featured them on covers, but have people really learned to love themselves yet?