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Sunday, November 07, 2004 

Artificial Intelligence

Almost 3 million people have various parts of their bodies prodded with gigantic needles or cut open or subjected to hours of needle jabs and weeks of constant pain sometimes resulting in severe infections or even death. No, I'm not talking about human rights violations done to people against their will in third world countries. This is United States. These people ASK and PAY for these things to be done to them. It's called plastic surgery. And more and more are doing it every year. It makes no sense to me. I could understand it if they actually ended up looking better as a result but in my opinion, they end up looking like cartoon caricatures of themselves. They would have been better off paying $5,000 to a Madame Tussaud's wax artist and saving themselves a lot of pain and the end result would look a lot better.

See for yourself. Look at pictures of L'il Kim, Mary Tyler Moore, Michael Jackson, even Cher. They look like they're permanently celebrating Halloween. It's frightening.

When did all this happen? Who is responsible for this artificial nightmare? The plastic surgery recipients themselves or society who have unrealistic expectations of beauty? I think it's a combination of both-- insecurity fueled by unrealistic expectations and pressure from both the public and the media to represent a very warped idea of beauty.

And of course, when the celebrities fall prey to this ideal of perfection, the sickness infects the non-celebrity as well. Usually women. The 16 year old girl who sees all the boys (and men) ogling Britney and decides that to become a better person worthy of attention plastic surgery is the answer...not education, not an improved personality, not hard work, not exercise. Just $20,000 and a few hours under the knife will solve all her problems. It's the housewife who feels she has to compete for her husband's attention from silicone, hair-extensioned Barbies who plaster the magazines and movies her husband watches.

But none of them stop to think that this subjective view of beauty is might not be the ticket to a happy life. The same celebrities who undergo such invasive procedures are also the same people who are in and out of drug rehab countless times, have 3 divorces under their belt by the time they reach the age of 35, and children who grow up as mirror reflections of their parents. All the money in the world doesn't cure them either.

But somehow, the first thing that people do when trying to improve their lives is to throw reasoning and good common sense out the window. The very things they DO need to improve their lives. The very things that ARE capable of leading them to contentment.

The only ones who really benefit from all of this, is, of course the plastic surgeons themselves. I've included a few statistics below to better illustrate my point. One statistic which really sticks out is the increase of reconstructive surgery patients as opposed to cosmetic surgery patients. People who don't need surgery are overwhelmingly more apt to choose it than the ones who really and truly need it.

So, before you look in the mirror and decide you need a nose job, just tape a picture of Michael Jackson there along with a side-by-side cost comparison of the nose job and an undergraduate degree before you dial 1-800-NEW-NOSE.

  • More than 2.8 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures were
    performed by ASPS members in 2003, up 41 percent from 2002.
  • Over 12 years, from 1992-2003, the number of cosmetic plastic surgery procedures by ASPS members has increased 424 percent.
  • Botox® injection was the overall top cosmetic plastic surgery procedure performed by ASPS members, with nearly 900,000 procedures in 2003.
  • The top five cosmetic surgical procedures performed by ASPS members in 2003 were breast augmentation (246,930), liposuction (241,887), eyelid surgery (129,727), tummy tuck (97,698), and facelift (86,504).
  • Breast augmentation increased 657 percent from 1992 to 2003.
  • More than five times as many liposuctions were performed between 1992 and 2003, 241,887 procedures in 2003 from 47,212 in 1992.
  • Eyelid surgery increased 118 percent from 1992 to 2003.
  • Facelifts more than doubled between 1992 and 2003, 86,504
    procedures in 2003 from 40,077 in 1992.
  • In 2003, more reconstructive plastic surgery procedures than ever before were performed by ASPS members with an 11 percent increase over 2002, totaling more than 1.6 million patients.