Peer Groups and Plastic Surgery

A guest post by Alex Wallace-Dunlop

Recently, the world of TV has offered up for our consumption any information they can get their hands on about people hating some or all of their body. The programmes served up range from Jeremy Kyle’s tedious pity-turning-to-anger routine with anyone he thinks he can win a fight against, to that gangling friend to the friendless, Louis Theroux who managed to squeeze in some liposuction himself while exposing the motive beneath the most cases of plastic surgery overload. The people he found truly believed that attractiveness is inseparable from boundless self-esteem, which is itself the key to eternal happiness, riches and adoration. Sadly, the likes of Brittany Spears and Jennifer Anniston have already proven that is but a pipe dream but still people smoke it.

Picture of a Klenz ad for makeup brushes.
I’ve absorbed a lot about people’s personal pain from my friend the TV: a loathing of their nose, boobs, genitals, parents or more attractive siblings, I didn’t think Super Botox Me would tell me anything new. But as we followed Kate Spicer’s journey to botox heaven and her obsession with an ‘after’ shot, I saw something even more objectionable and horrifying than voluntary and unnecessary surgery.

Initially Kate Spicer seemed like a pretty balanced, media savvy, thirty-something who had achieved more than many of us and had a cheery looking gaggle of friends. Really, she did, and I know how to spot a neurotic at a distance of quite-near-enough-thank-you.

At the beginning she told us that her friends weren’t the sort of people who were open to cosmetic surgery so in order to have a fighting chance of making the documentary she had to go where a different sort of people were, and she headed to New York. Once in there, while enjoying globular glasses of white wine and endless cigarettes with yet more perky friends, she explained to them why she believed cosmetic surgery was basically dangerous and unnecessary. Over the course of what I will generously describe as an evening – it looked like about half an hour – she went from looking quite happy and saying she was pretty sure she wouldn’t have anything done, to deciding just as resolutely that it would be fine and why should a woman of her stature be denied such a treat….which happened to bet the opinion of the people she was with.

Worse than the freaky amount of botox and face implants she had put in over 7 days was the ease with which she was completely influenced she was by her peer group. In that one hour, the 21st century truth about our sacred fourth estate became clear. Proudly created to keep tabs on those rotters in parliament and the courts, the British media is now filled with insecure, malleable, peer-pressured people-pleasers. And if they fill it here, it’s a fair bet that there are millions of them writing copy and making programmes all over the world. In fact, once I took a quick peek on the internet I found out that Kate Spicer seems to have developed an identity as someone who will say things are terrible and go ahead and get addicted to them anyway. In 2006 she made a programme about becoming a size zero and started off very anti-anorexia and ended up ticking most of its boxes

I’m not saying that the insecure should be denied a decent job, we all need to fund a locally grown, organic fruit habit somehow, but when did we agree that that people with so little faith in their own values as Kate Spicer displayed, can get to make programmes at all? But there she was, weeping and injecting, injecting and weeping before my very eyes. I suppose if that is the new hard-hitting journalist, John Pilger’s refusal to get dragged into such things makes him a pretty bad journalist. All he ever did was go somewhere where bad things were happening, talk to the people who couldn’t escape, try to find out why the madness continued and went home to tell us all about how crazy it was. If only he’d de-robed, become a disease-ridden orphan himself and made a film his personal journey instead of focussing on those pesky victims, he could have been really well respected.

But, journalistic values aside, Super Botox Me clearly showed that people say they are making their own decisions for their own needs, but are volunteering for unnecessary treatments and surgeries without the counsel of someone with one foot enjoying at least a passing acquaintance with the ground and the joy of life’s imperfections. With the prevalence of beautiful, wealthy miserable people all around, its amazing there’s anyone left who still thinks happiness is at the end of the silicone rainbow.

Yes, the injections and reels of her pain were difficult to watch, but the most enduring outcome was Kate Spicer was the most easily influenced person I have seen since all those people thought Tony Blair was going to be a decent substitute for John Smith. Lets hope she doesn’t manage to blow up the comfort and security of millions of people across the globe too.

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