The Normalization of Cosmetic Surgery Among Women in American Society

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Cosmetic surgery represents the latest trend in medicalization in which doctors are using their knowledge and the newest technology to tackle appearance issues that many individuals face. Within current American society, there is a normalization of cosmetic surgery occurring among women in particular. As society's standards about beauty change, women are increasingly finding themselves wanting to conform to such standards no matter what the cost may be. These surgical procedures are being used to materialize gender norms through the remodeling of women's bodies. These women who go under the knife try to match themselves to seemingly impracticable standards, standards that enforce conformity to a binary gender system. Cosmetic surgery is a life changing event; the effects of altering the human body does not merely stop when the procedure is over. America's visual culture as well as the new developments within the field of medicine has allowed women to willingly participate in cosmetic surgery and disfigure their bodies so they can more closely resemble society's standards of beauty.

For some time now, cosmetic surgery has been a compelling topic within our culture, but only recently has it been moving into the mainstream from what was generally believed to be an extremity. Cosmetic surgery became popular when American women saw the need to meet the "Gibson Girl" standards in early 1920s (Rogers 1971). At this time in United States' history, the Gibson Girl was the ideal image of womanhood within our culture. It was a female body type that was tall, broad shouldered, had long legs, and a very tiny waist. Women emulated this ideal body figure because it expressed not only power and a common social identity, but also enforced group belonging and an elevated individual status at the same time. By this point, Americans participated in a new visual culture where physical appearance ranked highest in importance and this externality came to define what beauty...
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