Addicted to a Distorted Body Image - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Addicted to a Distorted Body Image

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We've all seen them, the beautiful celebrities that beginhaving plastic surgery only to correct the flaws in their minds, leaving themwith looks that are distorted and harsh. Media puts additional pressure onwomen and men as they age, wanting to preserve the look they had years ago.Actresses with lips so plumped they talk with a lisp, faces pulled so tightthat the appearance is alien, or cheeks so filled and full that the eyes lookbizarre when they smile for the paparazzi. We have come to expect thisdistorted look in Hollywood, because so many of them have cosmetic surgery, andwe no longer question the addictive component of repeated surgeries to correctthe flaws left by the first one.

Addictions to distorted body image aren't only seen inHollywood. They are seen among our friends and family. Beauty is a hugeindustry, and women suffer from the loss of perceived beauty as they age. Thereare limited mentors in magazines or on television who allow themselves to agenaturally. This continues the illusion that aging is unacceptable or a problemthat needs to be fixed rather than allowing the changes and appreciating beautyat all ages. The problem with having a distorted body image and using cosmeticsurgery to repair the perceived flaw is that it will never be enough. When yourview is distorted you continue to find other areas of your body that needtweaking, tucking and cut away. A face pulled tight by surgery is notattractive; it's unnatural and gives a waxy appearance that isn't human. Theobjective viewer notices the alien look, but to the person with the tight skinface the focus quickly shifts to other areas that are slack and needtightening. It's scary when adults have this addiction, but when our teenagersand younger children begin saying they need cosmetic changes to be happy withtheir looks, it becomes a tragedy.

What causes this addiction to begin with? It's complicated.People who want to change dissatisfaction with their body or face seek cosmeticsurgery, and instead of being satisfied with the new look they begin focusingon their expectations not being met, and this leads them to identifying anotherimperfection. Once the cycle of addiction begins it is vicious and continuesthrough numerous surgeries, a loss of income, and many times severe depression.

There are many reasons people seek plastic surgery, andidentifying your reasons can help you decide if this is something you need foryour self-esteem, or if your self-esteem is based more on distorted emotionalissues that counseling may be more effective handling.

  1. Plastic surgery works well for those with an average tohealthy self-esteem, know exactly what they want, and have many other interestsin their life besides their looks.


  1. If you have alow self-esteem and you think cosmetic surgery will give you more confidenceand make you happier and content, this may be a red flag. Happiness is aninside job, and external factors don't bring happiness. You may feel contentafter the surgery, but if you believe surgery will change your life and makeyour dreams come true, you are probably going to be disappointed.


  1. The people mostlikely to become addicted lack self-worth. They feel content immediately afterthe surgery, but that is followed with emptiness and dissatisfaction. They seekout another surgery as a way to feel better. Those affected by a low self-worthbelieve that enhancing their body by way of surgery will make them happier withjobs, success, love, sex, and a younger appearance. Denial with the addictionhelps to keep this illusion in place. The media furthers the denial by sendingmessages that beauty and youth are linked to competiveness, success, love, sexand happiness.


People that are addicted, no matter what the addiction, sufferfrom a constant doubting of themselves. They are constantly in need of beingreassured that they are good enough. They don't have the ability to see theirown potential, so they look to others for approval. Society has helped enable theimportance of our appearance. You see normal human imperfections powdered,photo-shopped and airbrushed no matter where you look. However, our childhoodalso influences our addictions. A child who doesn't grow up feeling that theiremotional needs were met suffers low self-esteem. When the inside is broken, noplastic surgeon can make you a new one. Counseling is the only way you canre-parent yourself and build a healthy self-esteem.  Plastic surgery is a wonderful option. However,if you are expecting it to make you happy, heal a broken relationship or giveyou a renewed self-esteem, you will be disappointed. You pay for surgery, youget surgery, and your perception about the effectiveness of surgery is aninside job. –Mary Jo Rapini


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