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Cultural and Historical Studies Essay Cosmetic Surgery – The role advertising and celebrities play This essay will take the reader on a journey which is focused on the advertising of cosmetic surgery and it will also look at the role the celebrity plays in our day to day life in terms of our body conscious society. This will involve looking at adverts taken from women’s magazines and information from books written about cosmetic surgery. There will also be a visual display of the adverts discussed in the essay. It is important to point out that cosmetic surgery is surgery that is performed only for reasons of appearance. It is the patient who approaches the doctor to inform him or her of any problem area’s they may have. Cosmetic surgery as we know it today started off around the end of the nineteenth century. It started in Europe which included France, England and Germany as well as in the United States of America. “It wasn’t until the beginning of the twentieth century that cosmetic surgery was performed on a large scale” (Davis 2003: p 24). This was due to two separate incidents which include the beauty culture emerging and World War 1. The practice of older women wanting to look younger and more beautiful was no longer seen as a forbidden practice and wanting to improve one’s self was accepted among society. Due to this ways to improve women’s beauty was to be made available. The First World War gave surgeons plenty of practice due to injuries including burns, lost arms and legs and facial damage while gaining valuable experience at the same time. Cosmetic surgery is a male dominant medical practice due to the many years it takes to qualify. Advertising is there to encourage the public to buy goods or services. If you do not watch television or read magazines and newspapers which falls into the category of popular culture which is highly unlikely you will still not escape the bombardment of advertising. Advertising is found everywhere these days. It can be found on the side of buses, black taxi’s, tube station walls, on trains, on the doors of public toilets and even while driving you will see advertising boards. When sitting on the tube train if you lift your head up slightly you will see advertising panels. Products like vitamins and dating websites are spread across the tube and next to these everyday products and services cosmetic surgery advertising can be found. The cosmetic surgery adverts even tell the viewer that the surgery can be reached by staying on the very tube they are riding giving easy access if desired. Advertising is present to inform people of available products that can be purchased. It also seems to play the role of persuading people to purchase products or services. This persuasion can be in the form of words which promises the reader a certain outcome should they use the product or service. The body language of the model or models used within an advert can also portray a message. Cosmetic surgery adverts always seem to be full of promise, happiness and overall transformation. They use models that are smiling most of the time and comfortable in their own skin. This sends out a powerful and positive message. Words like confidence and radiant are used to convey to the reader exactly what can be achieved through the process. A vital part of the advertising is mentioned even if it is in small print which is of course the availability of financial assistance in form of a loan. This brings the reader or potential client one step

closer to actually being able to seriously consider having a procedure done. With the option of a loan it takes away the need to consider the financial implication which may otherwise stop many people from having cosmetic surgery. Procedures can costs thousands of pounds and the likely hood of many people having this extra cash lying around is highly unlikely. The cosmetic surgery advertising is quite simple and straightforward. It mentions what is on offer and can leave a very positive picture in the mind of the reader. The wording used within the adverts may appeal to most people as everyone would like to have confidence. The idea of a transformation or a new you can be very appealing to individuals who have had bad experiences in the past due to negative feelings towards their body or face or possibly a woman who feels or looks older than she is. A recent newspaper article detailed how despite the credit crunch was affecting consumer spending in a negative way the one area where they are not spending less is on themselves and having cosmetic surgery procedures. This is a great example of how important it is to people to look good and fit in. We live in a society which is fascinated by celebrities and everything they do. There are magazines such as OK, Hello, Star and Heat that provide the reader with articles and plenty of pictures of celebrities .An example of just how fascinated we are with celebrities the July issue of Eve magazine published an article about celebrity gossip and it was claimed Four Million copies of gossip magazine are sold in the UK weekly. There are TV programs like E News! which gives regular updates of what is happening on the celebrity circuit as well as news on singers and actors. There is currently a series called Peter and Katie – The Next Chapter which shows the day to day life of model Katie Price and her husband Peter Andre. All this media attention and coverage of celebrities it allows us the general public a bird’s eye view into their lives. We the public are interested in who they are dating or marrying, where they go on holiday, what cosmetic procedures they have done and even what type of diets they are on or have tried in the past. This fascination of the celebrity culture has lead people to try and copy this lifestyle as it portrays a way to fit into society and be accepted and of course admired. These celebrities are judged harshly by the public and their peers with dire consequences sometimes resulting in drug abuse and eating disorders. The celebrities are judged on who they date or marry to their dress size. The main focus seems to be centered around the looks of the celebrity and their body. If a celebrity shows any cellulite or fat they are deemed to be not perfect and overweight. There is a specific mold celebrities need to fit into and unless this is the case they are often seen in a negative light. There is a vast amount of pressure on individuals in the lime light to meet specific requirements in order to be accepted and admired. The rules about how one should look and act can sometimes changes. For example on the cover of a magazine called Star it mentions well known women letting themselves off the so called bikini body. This sends the message that if they act in this way it is ok for us to do the same. It is a difficult way of life to follow and you are forever in a possible state of change depending on what the latest celebrity craze rules are.

With such a strong interest and following of celebrities it is no wonder we as a society behave in such a judgmental and superficial way. We have come to model ourselves and our peers on what we see in magazines, movies and television. The media plays such a large role in our lives we almost tend to look for ideas and inspiration from it hoping for positive results. With such a strong emphasize on how we look and how we should look is it no surprise we may look at having cosmetic surgery as one way to improve ourselves. Cosmetic surgery is not a bad option if an individual is unhappy about their appearance and wants to improve this. However if the problem or issue the individual has runs deeper and may be a serious psychological issue then no amount of cosmetic surgery would improve the individual’s view of themselves. It is very important that the individual having surgery is aware of the consequences of surgery and the time it may take to accept themselves after the surgery. It is a clear observation that popular culture plays a very persuasive role in our lives and how we come to almost depend on this information to help create an identity where we will be accepted.

Bibliography Davis,K (2003) Dubious Equalities & Embodied Differences Cultural Studies on Cosmetic Surgery .United States of America: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group. Gilman, S.L (1999) Making The Body Beautiful A Cultural History of Aesthetic Surgery. United Kingdom: Princeton University Press. Attachments Cover of Star magazine Article taken from Metro paper 16 June 2008 Cosmetic Surgery advert taken from Red magazine Cosmetic Surgery advert taken from Eve magazine

Cosmetic Surgery Essay  

Cultural studies essay

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