Article by Dipakshi Goswami, The North-Eastern Chronicle
Visuals by: Anupal Deuri Bharali
The global beauty cum cosmetic sector, presently a $425 billion industry, which includes everything from hair and skincare to cosmetics and plastic surgery, can be dated back to 4,000 BC when the ancient Egyptians first utilised kohl to create expressive eyes.
Throughout generations, the face of beauty has always been changing due to its subjective nature. Not only do people’s perceptions of beauty and body shapes differ by culture, but they’ve also evolved dramatically over time owing to various other factors.
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Despite the fact that we all know that anybody type is attractive, regardless of societal norms, the world is continuously changing its mind about which look is the “best.”
So how did it go from Corset to Cosmetics?
In Europe, a “beauty enhancing tool” called corset first became popular in the sixteenth century and it reached its pinnacle of popularity during the Victorian era. This too came with a long and tumultuous history. Long reviled as a patriarchal instrument of torment that disfigured women’s bodies, historians now suggest that no one woman’s experience with a corset was the same and that some women may have even found them beneficial.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the corset as an undergarment was phased out in favour of sports and healthy lives, but the corset’s focus had already been internalised. Women used nutrition, exercise, and plastic surgery to shape their bodies and trim their waistlines instead of relying on a garment.
They may no longer be a part of the average woman’s daily routine, yet they have never truly gone out of style. Through accessorising, the “corset trend” has also made a comeback in the modern world, from corseted dresses to summer corsets, especially after the new fashion renaissance.
Growing trend of cosmetic surgery
The popularity of cosmetic surgery is also growing with people becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their appearance and want to have the changes required for a better quality of life. In a 1997 survey in the United States, 56 per cent of women and 43 per cent of men said they were unhappy with their overall appearance.
In line with this trend, a growing number of men and women are turning to cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic operations (surgical and non-surgical) performed by plastic surgeons, dermatologists, and otolaryngologists grew 119 per cent between 1997 and 1999, according to data published by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Cosmetic surgery, which was limited in the past, has seen a new wave with the introduction of Botox, face reconstruction, breast reduction, rhinoplasty, facelifts, breast augmentation, butt lifts, silicone implants etc, at a large scale. Many claims that insecurities are giving birth to these surgeries, while many vouch for letting people do whatever they want.
People seek cosmetic interventions to improve their self-esteem, mood, and social confidence, therefore one would expect that cosmetically successful surgeries will result in increased self-esteem, mood, and social confidence.
While research spanning four decades have found that the majority of people who undergo cosmetic procedures are delighted with the results, the psychosocial impact has received less attention.
Overall, the studies indicate that the majority of patients were pleased with the results and felt better about themselves. “Self-worth,” “self-esteem,” “distress and shyness,” and “quality of life” were among the domains of functioning that improved. However, there are many doctors who have stated the negative health effects of these surgeries and has even filed lawsuits against major cosmetic surgery companies.
“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”, this statement highlights how subjective beauty is. Be it through corsets or reconstruction surgeries, feeling good about oneself and being happy with the quality of lifestyle is what matters and making someone feel insecure about their looks or bullying someone for their physical structure is what destroys the essence of beauty.
The concept of beauty is supposed to be personal, without any external factors forcing or imposing certain stereotypes. Here’s to choosing for our own selves instead of letting others decide for us!