Within the last decade, the number of men seeking plastic and cosmetic surgery has grown exponentially. The old myth that these procedures are ‘for women’ is gradually being deconstructed for several reasons. There are increasing pressures on men to look a certain way as a consequence of more prevalent social media usage, and the hypersexualised depiction of men in film. It is also becoming more normalised for men to care about, and put effort into, their appearance. As a consequence of these compounding societal changes more men are seeking cosmetic treatments, though feedback we receive suggests that some men are still reluctant because there is the assumption that these procedures are ‘for women’ or are specifically ‘feminine.’
As the media focusses more and more on men’s bodies, and the films being released perpetuate the notion of the hypersexualised, hunky male lead (such as the superhero movie franchises), there has been an increase in pressure on men to look a certain way. Of course, this pressure and attention on looking a certain way has existed for centuries, for women. Indeed, it is this very pressure that is placed on women, which has created the assumption that to care about one’s looks, and to want to look a certain way, is to be ‘feminine.’ This is not the case. To want to look a certain way, and to want to feel good in one’s own skin, is simply to be human; the burden of wanting to look good is shouldered by all genders.
Furthermore, we find ourselves attached to social media almost constantly in this new age of technology. Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook enable us to share (the best parts of) our lives. The consequence of this is that we are exposed to much more content, all of which is centred around creating the illusion to others that our lives conform to the perfect ideal depicted in the media. This creates even more pressure, for both men and women, to look a certain way. To want to fit in, and to want to achieve this goal, is also simply to be human. This pressure is also felt significantly by the trans and gender-diverse communities, who are confronted with binaries and gendered expectations each day.
Dr Webster sees many male patients each year, for an array of different procedures. Some motivated purely by cosmetics, others for medical purposes; the fact of the matter is, that it is normal. We sometimes receive feedback from our female patients that their husbands or male partners have considered plastic surgery, but when they look up the procedure, are consumed by content made for a female audience, which only further alienates the ability of men to feel normal and comfortable seeking cosmetic/plastic surgery.
Furthermore, for men – and for our patients of any and all genders – our philosophy is that plastic surgery is a big step, and should only be done for good reason, where it will help to make a very positive change for the individual, and which can’t be achieved by more simple or non-surgical means.
There has been an expectation placed upon the shoulders of women to look a certain way for centuries; the standard of beauty to which women have had to adhere has been constantly changing and ever unachievable. This pressure is gradually being felt more and more by men, too. These expectations and burdens cannot easily be changed; however, the taboos and judgements made of those who seek help to achieve these standards and their own goals, can be deconstructed. It is time that the desire to seek plastic/cosmetic surgery, no matter one’s gender, is seen for what it is: a normal consequence of the new era in which we live.