Has social media normalised cosmetic surgery?

Millennials searching for cosmetic procedures are on the increase, with interest about aesthetic treatments up 16% on 2015, according to data collated by RealSelf.

So what has fuelled this rise? In a recent American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery survey, over 40% of surgeons reported that looking better in selfies on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook was an incentive for getting surgery.

Our desire to fit in and better ourselves against a constant stream of perfected, filtered images is clearly having an influence on young people. According to Dr Patel, medical director at Perfect Skin Solutions in Portsmouth, the sharp rise in ‘women aged 18-25 asking for lip fillers [has been faster] than anyone expected.’

Speaking in the Daily Mail, he says the increase ‘is thanks in large part to celebrities such as Kylie Jenner – who is often regarded as the poster girl for lip fillers.’

Kylie Jenner was recently named by Forbes as one of the most powerful celebrities under 30 in the world, and with young girls growing up with a role model that has had plastic surgery at such a young age, are these procedures at risk of becoming ‘the norm’?

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With social media such a pervasive aspect of our lives, and with the average Millennial checking their phone more than 150 times a day* it could be argued that this ‘Kardashian culture’ and ‘selfie generation’ is creating a new strain of unattainable goals.

Lauren Yearwood, Owner of YWD Aesthetics, which offers lip fillers and other cosmetic procedures, spoke to me about whether social media impacts her line of work: “I have to say that celebrities like Kylie Jenner have made a lot of girls want lip fillers. As these images are mostly seen via Instagram, then yes absolutely, it could be argued that fillers have become more popular because of that.

“Whilst I’ve not had any clients asking me to imitate certain celebrity looks on them, they often show me images of other girls on Instagram and ask for similar lips.”

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I also spoke to one of her clients that runs an eyelash extension and professional makeup business. She told me that she started getting fillers back in 2015, and has had them every 6 months after that without fail. I asked her why: “I was never really concerned about the size of my until lip fillers became popular. I also saw a lot of videos online of the procedure which made it look simple and pain free. The ease of availability and reasonable pricing also made doing this less daunting than I originally imagined.”

She also told me that her clients, as young as 16 have inquired about the procedure. Whilst most clinics won’t accept anyone below the age of 18, it’s worrying that girls that haven’t really lived yet are that concerned with their appearances.

Whilst social media is a great way to share information, build communities and campaign for change, it can lead to unhealthy obsessions, such as comparison and competitiveness. Everyone enjoys receiving ‘likes’ and approval from our peers, and that’s probably multiplied for teenagers.

With a large number of bloggers/social media fiends appealing to the Millennial generation, when they advocate surgery as a means to feeling more confident, it’s of course going to encourage interest. Combine that with the public documentation of lip fillers with videos and images finding their way onto timelines and soon enough, getting your lips done will be no different to getting a haircut.

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Whilst procedures are a choice only relevant to the individual, sending out a message to young women that they can manipulate their features is unhealthy.

The beauty, hair and clothing industry plague and already create insecurities, so let’s not add to that and keep aesthetic treatments behind the curtains, please.

 

*Statistics collated by Michelle Klein, Head of Marketing for North America at Facebook
**https://www.ama.org/publications/MarketingNews/Pages/feeding-the-addiction.aspx
Images credit to KylieJenner official instagram and NathalieParis youtube

 

Mount Fuji

In August 2015, I did something scary, challenging and new. I climbed Mount Fuji – also known as ‘Fuji-san’ in Japanese. This experience can be summed up by a bunch of emotions; fear, exhaustion, and awe.

We started our journey at the 5th station, which we accessed via a bus from Shinjuku station (Tokyo.) Here we ate a hearty rice based meal and geared ourselves up for the climb, which we started at about 8pm. Everyone I’d asked for advice said – just bring a head torch, extra clothes for the cold temperatures at the peak, a lot of water (as it’s expensive on Fuji) and to wear comfortable shoes. So with all of these in bag/hand, we ventured up into the depths and heights of Fuji.

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Our team!

The first hour didn’t seem too daunting, it was just like walking up a steep hill – until we passed two American women who were descending – they said ‘Good luck and buy a stick, you’ll need it as the climb down is just as hard as the ascent.’ I started thinking Damn, we’re not even halfway up yet don’t get me scared of coming down! But anyway, we carried on. Up until around the 6th station, it seemed like a steep walk and I thought, yes I can do this, until we were faced with steep rocky terrain. These parts were the hardest to climb. You had to use your hands to assist and steady yourself, and watch where you put your feet on the slippery, uneven rocks. In my head I was cursing everyone who said it was just a walk!

Anyway, after many more of those rocky steep bits which were tiresome and felt endless, I was expecting it to ease out a bit. And in some places it did, but we were often faced by the intimidating rocky patches, and it was getting quite dark and foggy. At points where I felt like I was going to fall or hurt myself, fear kicked in and I wanted to turn back, but my encouraging friends reassured me it would be fine and worth it. When we finally approached the 8th station, it was pretty cold and we were knackered,  and the hot chocolate I bought was the best thing ever – the expression ‘hug in a mug’ couldn’t be more spot on.

After many short breaks at each station (which provide toilets which you should bring change for, and snacks/water) we finally reached the 9th station. And that’s where it got busy. The last hour was probably the worst, I lost my friends and was amongst a bunch of also very tired but determined to reach the peak climbers. It wasn’t a nice experience, it felt like we were all fighting to a piece of flat rock to stand on and wait on until the queue started to move. It was around 3:30am at this point and I was just so fed up but knew I had to reach the peak – I was so close. I was impressed by the amount of old people  who were tackling Fuji too – I thought to myself ‘just man up and get to the top’.

4am – I got to the peak! Yay! After a gruelling 8 hours of climbing (bear in mind this as my first mountain climbing experience) we finally made it! I took a few photos of the sunrise, but to be honest, I was just too tired and cold to even appreciate the beauty before me – thank god for cameras! Our group reunited and went for some breakfast in a restaurant at the peak of the mountain (how surreal!) and got some of our energy back before going back down.

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How can I whinge when I got to see this?

Although I moan about the experience, it was a great one and probably something I’d never see again, so I don’t regret it at all. Once piece of advice is – don’t try to do it all in one evening like we did. As an inexperienced climber, I think if I had stayed in one of the huts on the way up it would have been a less tiring experience.

The descent – We chose to walk down the Yoshida trail. And that’s where the American lady’s piece of advice stuck me! Walking down was like walking on slippery ash/rocks, as it was so steep! You basically had to slide down which really hurts your knees. It would have been much more handy to have a stick to stop yourself. It felt like every step was just catching yourself before you fell.  After about 4 hours of struggling to get down, we finally made it! It’s safe to say I couldn’t be happier to finally be on a bus back to Tokyo saying Sayonara to Fuji  – my legs and feet were so worn out!

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Overall, there’s no way I’d like to do it again, but what an experience, the views were worth it. Until next time Fujisan…well not literally, although next week I plan to visit Fuji five lakes, but there’s no way I’ll be climbing anything again!

Kamakura, Japan.

Kamakura is a city located in the Kanagawa prefecture south-west of Tokyo. Although it’s only 50 minutes away from Tokyo, you feel miles away in distance and time, with no skyscrapers and bright lights in view.

The main attraction here is the huge seated Buddha, also known as ‘Amida Nyorai.’ Built in the 12th century, the bronze statue survived through a suspected tsunami, which supposedly knocked down the house sheltering the Buddha. It’s a national treasure now and I really enjoyed visiting the statue as well as Kamakura town – to me it felt like traditional Japan with its small streets quaint and full of history! The shrines, beautiful gardens, and the little shops selling everything from Japanese tourist tat to an array of flavoured rice crackers was right up my street! Also, check out those huge lily pads, no idea why there was money thrown into them but of course if it’s bringing me luck, in goes my yen.

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Kamakura also hosts several sandy beaches, which I didn’t know until now, but are quite rare in Japan. We went to Yuigahama beach, which wasn’t too far from Kamakura city – you have to take a little local train which was a cute experience. The beach was quite large, but also very windy and many jellyfish were washed up on the shore, but nevertheless it was enjoyable and I’d like to go again! The summer in Japan has been really hot and humid, and if I was closer to a beach I know where I’d be spending my days!
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