Beauty and the (media) beast

On June 30, 2015 By Andrew Hogg In Uncategorized

So I was getting my hair trimmed this morning- a short back and sides, nothing exciting I’m afraid, and the usual chat begins with the hairdresser, a young lady in her early 20’s.

“What’s your job then?” says she. Flattered at the (possibly not) genuine interest and having had years of rehearsal for such moments, I relieve her state of anticipation with a well versed summary of my present career interests.

I pause, wondering which of these will generate the next line of conversation. Botox it seems has caught her eye. “Oh- lots of my friends have that. But I’m too young. The lady who does them says I have to wait until I’m 25, so only another 2 years to go.”

This is unfortunately not that surprising a response given the current climate of aesthetic perfection that young women are underKylie Jenner's new lips pressure to aspire to. Exhibit A is 17 year old Kylie Jenner and her new dermal filler enhanced lips:

The media and fashion industries do their best to prop up unrealistic body shapes and sizes as the norm. The arrival of “plus sized” models is hailed as a step forward whilst their labelling of “fat” seems hard for many to drop from social media as seen from the proponents of the recent “beach body ready” advertisements.

Clearly for many people there is a difficult path to tread between accepting (to steal a phrase) all our perfect imperfections and the pursuit of the dream body.

I for one however would not be happy to be plumping up the lips of people at such a young age- for me it rings alarm bells for a condition called body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). Studies* have shown that as many as 12% of people presenting to dermatology clinics have BDD- without addressing these underlying problems you are merely compounding the patient’s situation. It may be hard to believe but fillers are still not restricted in the same way as botulinum toxins such as Botox as they are not considered to be a “drug”. As a result, anyone who fancies a pop at putting in fillers can do so without needing a license to practise.

Mental health aside, whoever carried out Kylie Jenner’s procedure has lost their moral compass and needs to take a long hard look in the mirror. Pandering to teenagers youthful anxieties is a recipe for lifelong confidence problems and may predispose them to BDD. When I make an assessment I need to see that my clients have the emotional maturity to appreciate the implications for what they are about to do.

You can check a doctors registration status here on the GMC website.

* Phillips KA, Dufresne RG, Jr, Wilkel CS, Vittorio CC. Rate of body dysmorphic disorder in dermatology patients. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2000;42:436-41

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