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Media Influence, Cosmetic Surgery and Women’s Health Research Paper



In the 21st century, the media has become the primary tool for trendsetting, reaffirming a common culture, and determining perception towards all the aspects of life. The modern beauty industry of the Western world exploits the particular image to promote its service. Slim and fit bodies of the models are presented in the magazines, on the TV screens, commercials, and anywhere the targeted audience is or can be present.

Modern women are under the great pressure of the fashion, fragrance, cosmetic, and fitness industries these days. If a woman wants to be attractive and desired in modern society, she has to comply with the latest trends in fashion, use the best available lipstick, wear the latest perfume, and be slim and fit. This is how a woman is presented in the media today.

Specifically, media images of perfection in the physique of women have pushed the young and middle-aged women to seek for the ideal look through the currently readily available cosmetic surgery services. Since the media has presented the beautiful woman as having ideal weight, flowing skin, perfect body features, and extra sexual appeal, women who are unhappy with their looks and body shape have developed the urge to overcome this challenge through surgical correction of perceived body imperfections. For instance, in advertisements, the images of models are often presented as the epitome of perfection and idealness for the 21st-century woman, who is very independent and has access to everything in pursuit of happiness.

These images are often edited to create perfection accompanied by a message that is aimed at reaffirming the perception of beauty. Today, the media promote not only a very specific look of a woman but also the ways of obtaining such a look via cosmetic surgery. It is very important to understand if a regular woman uses information from the media consciously to increase self-esteem and well-being, or it is the media’s success in shaping such an unconscious desire.


The scope of the research is to provide a comprehensive and well-grounded answer to the following question: Does the image of women promoted by the media cause them to undertake cosmetic surgery? In other words, it is necessary to understand what kind of influence the media has on women in this area, and if this influence is negative or positive.


Considering the continuously growing interest in cosmetic surgery in the world, the paper aims at exploring the relationship between the media and the desire of women to undergo cosmetic surgery as well as discussing the effect of this relationship on women’s health and well-being.

Research Approach

The research is going to explore the available literature regarding the topic to come to the conclusion that would support or refute the main arguments. The sources to be used should provide different perspectives on the researched problem. Thus, such an approach to their choice should provide the necessary relevance and solidify the conclusion.

Literature Review

Empirical Literature

Berberick (2010) research “The Objectification of Women in Mass Media: Female Self-Image in Misogynist Culture” explores the image of a modern woman in the American mass media to find out if this image is harmful to women or not. The author concludes that “ideal” image of a woman is harmful to self-esteem and negatively influences women (Berberick, 2010). The resource is used for the proposed research to support the argumentation.

The article “Aesthetic Anti-Ageing Surgery and Technology: Women’s Friend or Foe?” investigates the attitude of women of age from 46 to 76 towards aesthetic cosmetic surgery and their reasoning of undergoing such procedures or not (Brooks, 2010). The author explores this issue using the survey as the method of collecting data. The article is used for the research to present the response of a rather large targeted audience that may actually need such services.

Chapman (2011), in the article “Women in American Media: A Culture of Misperception,” evaluates the depth of the problem of women’s misperception in the American mass media and its influence on the modern American women. The author points out that media is a tool used for particular goals, pursued by advertising campaigns. The influence of such campaigns is being explored. The article is used for the research to solidify the argumentation.

The newspaper article “Is Photoshop Destroying America’s Body Image?” by Diller (2011) argues that Photoshop is the tool that destroys the image of America’s body. The author explores the relevant literature and the reaction of celebrities (Brad Pitt and Kate Winslet) regarding this matter to show if it is true. The article is used for the research to present one of the points of view on the researched problem.

Furnham and Levitas (2012) in “Factors that Motivate People to Undergo Cosmetic Surgery” assessed a group of British interviewees (204 participants) to understand the current attitude towards the services offered by cosmetic surgery and the connection between this attitude and such measures as “self-esteem, life satisfaction, self-rated physical attractiveness, religiosity, and media consumption” (p. 24). The article is important for the research as a valuable source of the scientifically obtained and evaluated data, supporting arguments. The article “Why Don’t I Look Like Her? The Impact of Social Media on Female Body Image” by Klein (2013) raises a serious argument on eating disorders as caused by the influence of social media among college women.

The author explores the influence of inappropriate imaging of a female body in the social media on the young generations of women in a psychologically hostile environment. The article is valuable for the research as the source of arguments. Naish (2011), in “When Looks Can Kill,” provides an example of unsuccessful cosmetic surgeries and their outcomes for women who underwent these procedures. The article is important for the research as the source of the examples needed for the appropriate support of one of the arguments in the research proposed.

The work of Riggs (2012) presented in “The Globalization of Cosmetic Surgery: Examining BRIC and Beyond” is based on the exploration of the globalization of cosmetic surgery on the example of its development in the countries belonging to BRIC organization. The author evaluates the trends and global forces in cosmetic surgery at a strategic level, which is useful for the proposed research as the source of reputable and trustworthy information.

The newspaper article “Does Social Media Impact on Body Image?” by Roxby (2014) explores the influence of mass media on self-esteem and psychological (and often physical) well-being of women. The author assesses the example of Kelsey Hibberd, one of the young women suffering from inadequate self-esteem and the related issues, who has managed to overcome the problem and has become a successful trainer in the relevant area. The newspaper article is important for the proposed research to be the source of argumentation.

Cosmetic surgery is important for modern women

From the literature review, it is apparent that the modern woman is an independent being who has control of her happiness. Basically, this happiness can be achieved without cosmetic surgery since empowerment has created a sense of high self-esteem and appreciation of diversity. In fact, the number of women opting for cosmetic surgery is less than 10% of the entire population in the Western world and beyond (Alt & Lieberman, 2010).

Women who opt for cosmetic surgery have reasons behind their decision to boost this happiness or address physic challenges from cases such as breast cancer, nonproportional body part, and the need to explore the world of extras in beauty. In the 21st century, cosmetic surgery has come with many benefits from womenfolk across the world. According to Furnham and Levitas (2012), the main factors that might influence women to opt for cosmetic surgery include the need to boost self-esteem, have life satisfaction, urge to obtain the self-rated physical attractiveness, and media consumption. For instance, cosmetic surgery provides the women with the opportunity to make corrections to parts of their body that they feel are imperfect or in one way or another destroyed by an ailment or accident.

There are several cosmetic surgery alternatives available for women who want to modify how they feel about their bodies and create a physique that is more enduring and full of personality. Besides, from a medical perspective, some cosmetic procedures might help the women to restore smooth skin, fill breast that has been destroyed by cancer, and get a tighter or lighter physical appearance (Alt & Lieberman, 2010).

Despite the above benefits, the significance of cosmetic surgery has been over evaluated in the present time due to excessive media attention through programs such as Botched, Perfection, and Plastic Art, among others. For instance, in a research carried out by Chapman (2011) the aim of which was to evaluate the depth of the problem of women’s misperception in the American mass media and its influence on the modern American women, the findings revealed that media is a tool used for the particular goals pursued by advertising campaigns. These programs and other media platforms are very proactive in promoting the ‘perfection’ narrative to the womenfolk as though the procedure is part of the beauty necessity (Center for the Study of Commercialism, 2012).

In fact, most youthful and middle-aged women who go for the cosmetic procedure confess having read or watched programs on types of surgeries available. The over-concentration of cosmetic surgery through the media might actually be blamed for the influence on women to opt for the plastic procedure.

Media influence women in the decision to undergo cosmetic surgery

The media has been very objective in presenting the need for cosmetic surgery by presenting life stories of women before and after the procedure. The media has been very vocal in advocating for the cosmetic procedure in pursuit of beauty or correction of imperfections in body parts (Ghani & Rehman, 2011).

The many programs on television such as Botched are aimed at educating the women on the need to come out of the closet and embrace beauty through presenting available means of correcting challenges in the physique through simple surgery. Besides, the media is resourceful on the type of procedures available, how the procedures are done, the cost implications, and potential risks or benefits attached to each procedure. Through this strategy, women are furnished with adequate information that might influence their decision to either opt for cosmetic surgery or not (Beasley & Denesi, 2013).

For instance, in the Botched program, the media highlights both the positive and negative implications of plastic surgery and campaigns for the need to seek for professional services to minimize the risk of a failed procedure. This means that media has a certain level of positive influence on women towards any decision to opt for cosmetic surgery. Being a relatively new concept, the cosmetic surgery industry heavily relies on media to get the exposure needed for sustainable businesses.

Most of the procedures are highlighted by the media to potential customers through different programs and advertisements (Jones & Rowley, 2011). Media attention is necessary for presenting the available services to the market. Besides, the media has been used to expose success stories of cosmetic surgery as having the benefit of boosting the confidence of the beneficiaries by making them feel better about their physique.

The activities of the media are sometimes immoral

Despite the many positive influences that the media has on women towards cosmetic surgery, several instances of misrepresentation of information have been identified in the promotional images of perfect women. For instance, Naish (2011), in “When Looks Can Kill,” provides an example of unsuccessful cosmetic surgeries and their outcomes for women who underwent these procedures. In most cases, the media only provide the product according to demand, and not necessarily the facts about the product, in terms of benefits and actual results (Bowden, 2013). The images are very manipulative and use tactics that directly and involuntarily appeal to the mind of the target person. Usually, advertisements appeal to emotional response and create a desire for perfection that might be false (Brandsma, 2012).

As a result, the images create an intrinsic motivation response that triggers the mind to activate affiliation and feign community feeling, which might not be the actual results for opting to use some of the cosmetic products being advertised. In the end, such advertisements succeed in appealing to emotions through capitalization on biases and prejudices of people, without concentrating on the actual results to expect. For instance, in most of the cosmetic surgery adverts, the images used are edited, focused, and well presented to appeal to perfection (Zerbe, 2011). This perfect might not be guaranteed even if a person decides to go for similar procedure since the element of Photoshop is responsible for the idealness and not the product.

The media may have certain negative impact on the self-esteem of modern women, especially in representing beauty as determined by physical appearance. According to Berberick (2010), the image of a modern woman in the American mass media is harmful for women since the “ideal” image of a female body is detrimental for self-esteem and negatively influences womenfolk (Berberick, 2010). For instance, a slim well toned body is presented as a powerful figurative form, a ground on which the central hierarchies function, and a metaphysical commitment of a culture that is strengthened through the visible body (Klein, 2013).

The focus on the smallness of women’s bodies has significantly increased in the media creation of a woman’s figure as perfected only through cosmetic surgery. For instance, the media creates an obsession with thinness, as images of models in cosmetic product advertisements are presented as having an ideal body (Boby Hub Research, 2012). This obsession has resulted to low self-esteem among women who feel that they do not have the ideal body and extras, which defined beauty of a woman in the 21st century.

Diller (2011) established that Photoshop is the tool that destroys an image of America’s body by exploring the relevant literature and the reaction of celebrities. The models in the adverts are not only slim, but also thin. As a result, most women would love to compare themselves to models. The media also insinuates that slim perfectly figured women get more decent lifestyle than those who are not. To fit in the perfect body culture, young women are under pressure and may end up having low self-esteem.


Apparently, from the literature review, there is a strong relationship between the media and the desire of women to undergo cosmetic surgery. The influence is mostly positive in the pursuit for a perfect body to boost self-confidence. The media is resourceful in presenting information, available products, and the cosmetic culture development. The benefits of cosmetic surgery include improved self confidence, feeling about beauty and correction of physique challenges.

These benefits are important towards promoting the independence, empowerment, and self-determining culture of the 21st century woman. However, over indulgence in media images on perfect body, as a result of cosmetic surgery, might lead to low self-esteem due to pressure to be like the advertisement images. Therefore, there is need to explore the topic on how image of women promoted by the media cause them to undertake cosmetic surgery in order to understand the issues surrounding the magnitude of media influence on women.


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"Media Influence, Cosmetic Surgery and Women's Health." IvyPanda, 8 Sept. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/media-influence-cosmetic-surgery-and-womens-health/.

1. IvyPanda. "Media Influence, Cosmetic Surgery and Women's Health." September 8, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/media-influence-cosmetic-surgery-and-womens-health/.


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IvyPanda. 2020. "Media Influence, Cosmetic Surgery and Women's Health." September 8, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/media-influence-cosmetic-surgery-and-womens-health/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Media Influence, Cosmetic Surgery and Women's Health'. 8 September.

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