Ryen Cinski ’22
For quite some time, I’ve had a great interest in all things beauty – makeup, hair, even the before and after of plastic surgery. Women and men utilize cosmetic procedures for a multitude of reasons. Some people, like myself, simply enjoy cosmetic procedures to enhance their appearance and to alter certain features. Some people find them necessary to boost their confidence and self-esteem. Social media takes this all to the consumer and shows you how to be beautiful, regardless of your age.
I don’t consider myself particularly sensitive or easily offended or angered by things. Nor am I easily shocked by things that I see on my various social media accounts. I’ve seen transformation videos; I’ve seen crazy injury videos; I’ve seen dark-humor jokes. While they do amuse me and at times make me cringe or feel uncomfortable, none of them have ever really shocked me. Recently though, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, when I found something that I stopped to stare at for a solid twenty seconds. The photo that I saw was of a young girl, a young girl with white bandages wrapped around the entire top of her head. Her caption read: “Otoplasty video reveal, coming soon…” It is safe to say that I was shocked.
Otoplasty, also known as cosmetic ear surgery, is a procedure in which the ears can be reshaped, repositioned and even resized. I have heard of people getting these procedures before, and although they aren’t entirely unheard of in children (done for both medical and cosmetic reasons), I still found it shocking. After looking into her internet persona further, I learned a few things. The first being that she is internet famous, currently sitting at 107k followers on Instagram, and having videos on YouTube with upwards of 700k views. These videos range from singing, to makeup, to her otoplasty reveal. The second thing that I came to learn about her is that she was born in 2007, meaning that at the age of 11, she underwent her otoplasty for cosmetic reasons. At 11, she had her first cosmetic SURGICAL procedure.
The first emotion I felt when I thought about this was disbelief, then rage, then disappointment. At the age of 11, I was riding bikes, watching the Harry Potter movies, and playing with my mom’s makeup in front of the bathroom mirror. Meanwhile, age 11 for this young girl meant cosmetic surgery because she was unhappy with the way that her ears protruded. Due to her age, the procedure was done with the consent of her parents. While this may show a lack of judgment and reasoning on their part, it is important to remember the biggest player in this game: the internet.
Along with the rise of social media came new standards and new beauty ideals viewed by even the youngest of people. With constant access to numerous photos of models, actresses, internet personalities, fitness junkies and more, it is easy to lose confidence in your own appearance. What many forget, though, is that most of these media celebrities have had procedures or enhanced their photos, and therefore project unrealistic appearances. To be clear, this is not meant to shame anyone. I am a strong believer in the idea that you should do whatever makes you happy. If it takes a procedure to reach that happiness, then so be it. Live and let live.
In many cases, though, impressionable young boys and girls view the profiles and photos of these internet stars and grow unhappy with who they are due to unrealistic comparisons. The internet is a breeding ground for discontent and self-shame. While cosmetic procedures and intensive hair and makeup have always been associated with grown women and men, they are now something available to and utilized by many young girls and boys.
Again, I am not trying to put anyone down. If young people love cosmetics as much as I do and can gain a loving, supportive fanbase from it, that is great. What concerns me is the young people that see the numerous videos and pictures of “perfect people” and feel as if they need to change who they are. Although the young girl who received an otoplasty feels more confident now, it is sad that she was so unhappy with herself at such a young age.
Freddie Mercury, lead vocalist of Queen, had horrible teeth. His teeth were so terrible that he was constantly afraid to open his mouth and smile. Although he had the resources to fix his teeth and change his appearance to fit beauty standards, he didn’t. His fear that altering his teeth would change his singing abilities and his self-confidence formed this decision. While he was unhappy with his smile and how his looks didn’t fit beauty norms, his talent and showmanship shot him to fame. Here is someone who overcame his imperfections and learned to accept them and utilize them and their uniqueness. I wonder—if Freddie Mercury had been alive in this time of social media, would he have felt the need to change who he was?
Self-acceptance and confidence are so important today. We must remember that no matter who we are or what we look like, we have value. Whether we have big ears or crooked teeth, we have value. We must stop basing our perceptions of ourselves on our perceptions of others. Instead of urging future generations to look a certain way and conform to social media standards, we should follow in the footsteps of those who encourage individuality and uniqueness. If we really feel the need to, we should do the hair, makeup or procedure for ourselves, not for the internet.