Nov 162006
Authors: Kaitlin Snook

Have you ever seen yourself in one of those mirrors at a circus? You know, the kind that make you look wider or skinnier depending on how you stand? Well, apparently these mirrors are becoming a phenomenon all over the country. Okay, not really. But is it just me, or do more and more people seem to decide they don’t like what they look like anymore? It feels like everywhere I turn, people are changing themselves in one way or another; dyeing their hair, tanning (since when is it not OK to be pale in the winter?), and even going as far as having cosmetic surgery.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, doctors performed 10.2 million cosmetic surgery procedures in the United States in 2005, up a huge 11 percent from 2004. That doesn’t even include the 5.4 million reconstructive surgeries that were done to fix things like broken noses and burn and tattoo scars. That means that one in 30 people in the U.S. had some sort of surgery done, merely because they wanted to fix some slight imperfection that they just couldn’t live with.

The ever-so-popular liposuction, nose reshaping and breast augmentation made the top five on the list of the most performed surgeries, but that doesn’t mean trivial things like eyelash transplants should be left out. Nowadays, you can even completely change the way your vagina is colored and shaped. Whether due to vanity or poor body image, plastic surgery is becoming the way to pick your desired body from a shelf.

Don’t think, however, that we women are solely to blame for this dramatic rise in surgeries. More and more men in our society are deciding to change the way they look. From calf implants to penis lengthening, it is becoming clear that women are not the only ones affected by a need to change themselves.

But who can blame them? With television shows like “America’s Next Top Model” telling six-foot tall, 110-pound women that they need to lose weight, who wants to look anything but perfect? But don’t you fret; a quick fix is merely a channel change away, with shows like “Extreme Makeover” and “Dr. 90210.” Apparently, it’s as easy as waking up and deciding, “Hey, I think I’ll get my boobs done today.”

Cosmetic surgery is constantly being portrayed as an easy fix to something on yourself that you don’t necessarily love. But the things these shows are forgetting to tell us are the most important of all. Besides the trauma tales that are slipped in here and there, we’re very rarely getting all sides of the story. And even when we do, like in the case of Tara Reid’s botched boob job, we read that all she had to do was have a little more surgery to fix it.

Did you know that to be called a plastic surgeon all you have to have is a doctorate in medicine? That sounds like a lot, seven to eight years of school actually, but people could call themselves plastic surgeons without having had any practice in cosmetic surgery at all. And what they’re not telling us is people actually die, both on the table and years later, from complications from the surgery. Whether it’s from reactions to anesthesia or allergies to silicone, it happens.

So, if you really think you just can’t get through life being happy looking the way you do, and that surgery will change that, more power to you. But, before making any life-changing decisions, protect yourself and do some research. Who knows, you might even save your own life.

Kaitlin Snook is a junior technical journalism major. Her column appears every Friday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to

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