Many TikTok creators and influencers have been sharing their choice to get cosmetic procedures done and their experience doing so. While this is nothing new, there seems to be an influx in content about it recently. Breast augmentations, lip filler injections and Botox appear to be especially popular procedures, but I have seen liposuction and rhinoplasties being shared on the app as well.
On one hand, I do appreciate the transparency shown by many creators about having cosmetic procedures done, which has not always been the case with people in the public eye. Sharing the choice to get plastic surgery helps acknowledge the fact that many people go to great lengths and spend large amounts of money to modify their body — which some may argue alleviates the pressure to be naturally perfect.
The problem is that this transparency only further seems to encourage women to seek out these procedures. According to Modern Aesthetics, over three quarters of cosmetic-focused plastic surgery practices have reported higher demand for their services since prior the pandemic.
The argument often used in defense of cosmetic plastic surgery is that other people can and should make whatever choices they like when it comes to their body. And I can’t disagree with that. I wholeheartedly support bodily autonomy, especially that of women, which is often under attack. But I cannot watch countless women choose to have their bodies cut and injected for thousands of dollars for the sole reason of being more attractive without feeling concerned for the implications.
People’s decisions unfortunately do not exist in a vacuum. It is simply not possible that someone is only getting plastic surgery “for themself.” It is not a coincidence that many women say they have wanted plastic surgery since they were young. One popular creator mentions in the comments of her video that she has wanted breast implants since she was 8 years old. Others state they have newfound confidence and peace of mind after their procedure. While many say this kind of thing in a positive light, we should be more concerned that so many women feel a lack of confidence and security in their natural bodies.
One creator, Ken Eurich — who has 1.4 million TikTok followers — has shared several videos in the last month about her experience getting breast implants and liposuction. A comment on her video about liposuction reads, “...you are literally doing everything I have always wanted to do, but will never be able to afford…”
Plastic surgery and other invasive cosmetic procedures may be no less harmful or disturbing than various other things women are pressured to do or buy to become more attractive, but the influx in content I have seen surrounding it worries me about the standards being pushed on young girls. The expectation appears to be that for those with enough money, these procedures are often standard.
We live in a poisonous patriarchal society that pressures girls to care deeply about their appearance from the very moment they look into a mirror for the first time. As a culture, we need to look deeper into the desire many women have to get invasive cosmetic procedures done.
How do TV shows, books, magazines, advertisements, social media and even the conversations happening around girls as they grow up influence their view of their own body? Are the same women who are now getting breast implants the same ones who were stuffing their bras with socks in seventh grade to feel more feminine and grown-up?
Popular creator Alix Earle — who has 4.8 million TikTok followers — explains in her Jan. 5 video about her breast augmentation surgery that she has wanted bigger breasts since she was young. “I would be little and looking up growth supplements for your boobs,” she said.
I urge my fellow women to critically consume content encouraging or showing plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. I do not think any of these women should be directly shamed for their personal choices — after all it is their body and their money at stake — but we must acknowledge that watching influential creators like Earle talk about her breast implants has an impact on many.
The very core of the patriarchy and its insidious collaboration with capitalism is that women will never be attractive, young and perfect enough. We will always feel pressure to buy one more product, start one more diet or take part in one more procedure in striving to be the ideal embodiment of femininity.
Leila Faraday (she/her) is a freshman studying policy analysis.