Quick note: this blog post is going to err on the philosophical side of cosmetic procedures, rather than the technical.
There are three yous. There’s the you that you see. That’s the you in the mirror when you’re getting ready in the morning. That’s the you of your memories, the you that you envision in the future, the you that you’ve constructed in your mind.
The second you is the you that others see. This you informs the first you – how others see us influences how we see ourselves. Others may see a you that you never see, just as you may see a you that others never see.
The third you is you. Not your memories, not your appearance, not how others see you, but your conscious awareness. The you that’s reading these words right now. Where we bring our awareness, we are.
You may wonder how all of this plays into cosmetic procedures. Here’s a thought experiment: when you’re planning to get Botox in Beverly Hills, a facelift, or any other procedure, which you are you trying to satisfy? The you that you’ve constructed of yourself, the one you see in the mirror? The one others see? The answer isn’t always easy.
You might get a cosmetic procedure because you’re dissatisfied with some element of your appearance. In some sense, you’re trying to improve your self-image. That self-image, though, is almost impossible to disconnect from how others see you. Why do you hold a particular standard of beauty? There are elements of personal style, no doubt, things you love and things you remember. There are also reflections of how other people see you, and how society in general expects us to look and dress.
Certainly, there can be a desire to be attractive – to friends and family, to romantic partners, to passersby. That seems deeply connected to the you that others see, but as we’ve discussed, how others see you affects how you see yourself, and vice versa.
Why bring all of this up? There was a recent episode of the Slate advice podcast “Dear Prudence” in which someone asked whether or not she should get a cosmetic procedure – she was worried that cosmetic procedures were socially unacceptable because of bias in beauty standards. There were a multitude of factors we don’t have time to get into here, but the hosts essentially answered that it was her body, and if she wanted to get cosmetic surgery, she had every right to.
Beauty standards, systemic problems, and individuality are almost impossible to parse – they’re all deeply interconnected. In an ideal world, everyone could get cosmetic procedures to look the way they feel. Men, women, non-binary people – beauty should and can be as you conceive it, and cosmetic procedures can help.
When you’re thinking about a cosmetic procedure, think carefully about what’s influencing you. While it can be hard to analyze, understanding exactly why you want the procedure can help you proceed with confidence. Self-reflection is an extremely powerful tool – use it when you can.