The New Addiction Ten years ago 330, 000 Americans underwent plastic surgery. This year that number has increased to over 6 million, of which 335, 000 are under the age of 18 (So you want a famous face). The increase in numbers of plastic surgeries could be attributed and / or directly proportionate to the increase in extreme makeover shows. According to Charles Cooley, "a person's sense of self is derived from the perceptions of others." We will use Charles Cooly's looking-glass-self theory to argue that mass media has created a social mirror for millions of women, the consequence of which is a "cosmetic surgery addiction." Cooly's looking-glass-self is defined as "a self-concept based on our perception of others judgments of us" (Sociology pg 97). In the year 2000 more than 6.
3 million women chose to have cosmetic plastic surgery, which could be a direct result from people watching TV programs such as "Extreme Makeover", "Swan", and "Nip/Tuck" ("Less is Really More" Paul Loren c... Newsweek). These kinds of shows, combined with the seemingly flawless beauty of Hollywood stars, forms the social mirror by which society judges itself. Under these circumstances certain people begin to see themselves as wanting and not good enough.
The answer to their feelings of unattractiveness is fulfilled by plastic surgery more often than not, and when their problem is not fixed by one surgery another is done until an addiction begins to form. In the year 2003, 4. 3 million patients undergoing plastic surgery were returning patients (plastic surgery. org). We feel Cooly's theory of the looking-glass-self illustrates why society is addicted to plastic surgery, and why this addiction is due to the media. We believe that the media project images of people that are unrealistic and these images are what we feel we should look like.
People refuse to accept themselves for who they are and for what they look like because they don't think that they measure up to society's standards. The media shows its audience what's considered "acceptable" and "beautiful." Until we, as a society, can accept ourselves as being inherently different, there will always be the desire to make one's self act, feel, and look "normal.".