Body Image in Brazil and Usa

Body Image in Brazil and USA Four thousand years ago the last of the mammoths were roaming the earth before extinction, anesthesia was still 3800 years away from being discovered, and tools were still being made out of stone. What else was happening that long ago? Humans were performing the first known cases of reconstructive and cosmetic surgeries, documenting back to skin grafts in ancient India. Between the first documented procedures and the early 1800’s not a lot progressed aside from the basic tools being used. In 1827, Dr.
John Peter Mettaue performed the first cleft palate operation using tools of his own design kicking off the modern plastic surgery advancements. Using the advancements in reconstructive surgeries became increasingly popular during World War I as it was used to save many soldiers’ lives throughout the world. In the late 1940’s, following the second World War, the focus of plastic surgery began to shift from medical procedures to save lives in the military to a more public and socialized practice. A boom in the 1960’s spread rapidly after the introduction of silicone implants by Dr. Thomas Cronin.
Sports Illustrated Magazine issued its first swim suit edition in 1964 featuring a five page spread of bikini clad perfect model bodies that the public was pressured to imitate. Despite the American involvement in Vietnam during the late 60’s the trend continued to increase into the 70’s when plastic surgery hit an all-time high due to the public discovery of its uses on all parts of the body. Over the decades, countries throughout the world including Brazil and The United States have adopted plastic surgery as an active part of their cultures despite monetary and health costs all because of media and social pressures.

The United States and Brazil rank first and second in the world of most plastic surgery procedures, respectively. According to Dr. Daniela Dorneles de Andrade, a psychological research associate at the University of Vienna, the United States alone underwent 30. 1 million cosmetic surgeries in the year 2009, enough cosmetic surgeries for one in every ten Americans to have undergone some sort of altering procedure. The United States is the only country to top the next leading country, Brazil, which reported 13. 7 million procedures.
Based on its population, that amounts to one in every fifteen Brazilians volunteering for of these surgeries in the same year (Dorneles 75). The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports the average cost of plastic surgery procedures being at five thousand dollars in the United States incurring a total revenue topping one hundred and fifty billion dollars a year from voluntary surgeries alone. The figure dwarfs Brazil’s reported income from the same procedures however, topping just over fifty million dollars (ASPS).
Professor Alexander Edmonds, of Macquarie University, reports that the lack of funds reported by Brazil is due to a philosophy that “the poor have a right to be beautiful” (Edmonds, “Poor” 363). The thought that everyone has a right to undergo plastic surgery, even if they cannot afford it, has been adopted by many Brazilian surgeons. Brazilian surgeons have started clinics that are being funded by federal and municipal budgets to provide procedures to everyone regardless of economic ability (Edmonds, “Poor” 365). Such acts are not only costing people in American and Brazilian cultures money but also costing them their health.
Both psychological and physical health are being put into jeopardy by the procedures themselves and also by the desire to have them done (Edmonds, “Learning” 470). Health care related spending has nearly tripled in the past three centuries, seventy-eight percent of which linked to complications of cosmetic surgery. Whether it is leaking silicone implants or infections, the surgeries that people are seeking out to make themselves more perfect on the outside are in fact leading to more problems than with what they started with (Dorneles 77).
Why are people of the world putting themselves through these extensive procedures? University of Amsterdam professor, Alexander Edmonds, says it amounts to nothing more than acceptance and expectance. The pressure to appear as perfect as possible on the outside is largely placed upon the women in both Brazilian and American culture. Such pressure is put upon women, young women most heavily, by media and social groups alike. Social groups are driven by what they see in magazine or on television ads. Media thrives on what social groups are deeming appropriate amongst themselves.
The vicious cycle of perfection that American teens and young adults face every day is the same pressure that is seen in Brazil. More and more young people are turning to evasive procedures to correct themselves every day. In 2010 the second most popular gift given to high school graduates in America, trailing closely behind a new car, was that of breast augmentations (Kreimer). These gifts are giving by family members or people who care about the young person’s life and they feel that their child will thrive better in life if they help them achieve a better body.
This thinking is passed on from generation to the next and is rapidly increasing. One teen who received such a gift was quoted saying, “My mother, grandmother, two aunts, and stepmother have implants, so if my mom is willing to pay for it, why not? ” (qtd in Kriemer). The pressure to appear a certain way is becoming even more important to people of the world with no consideration for the health and financial implications. It is becoming accepted by cultures around the globe as a normal practice.
If the past is any indication for the future this issue will become an uncontrollable epidemic. Something needs to be done about how media portrays people but are the thoughts of societies and morals of cultures being influenced by the media or is the media being conformed by the cultures and societies serves? Works Cited ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons). The Plastic Surgery Foundation, 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. Dorneles de Andrade, Daniela. “On Norms and Bodies: Findings from Field Research on Cosmetic Surgery in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Reproductive Health Matters 18. 35 (2010) : 74-83. Print. Edmonds, Alexander. “Learning to Love Yourself: Esthetics, Health, and Therapeutics in Brazilian Plastic Surgery. ” Routledge Journals 74. 4 (2009) : 465-489. Print. Edmonds, Alexander. “’The Poor Have the Right To Be Beautiful’: Cosmetic Surgery in Neoliberal Brazil. ” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13. 1 (2007) : 363-381. Print. Kreimer, Susan. “Teens Getting Breast Implants for Graduation. ” Womensenews. Women’s eNews Inc. , 6 June. 2004. Web. 26 Oct 2012.


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