For some reason, New Yorkers, and Americans in general for that matter have a lot of opinions when it comes to cosmetic surgery. For the most part, procedures are kept hush-hush. That’s why tabloids love to talk about celebrities who have had breast augmentation and nose jobs, why Hollywood writers include plot twists with dramatic transformations on TV and in movies, and why reality shows like Botched are so successful. Our society loves the idea of cosmetic surgeries (and they continue to be in high-demand), so it’s puzzling that many of us are still hesitant to talk about them on a day-to-day basis. People often seem afraid to “break the silence” and share that they’ve had work done, worried that they will somehow be judged.
That’s not the case for most Brazilians, however. In fact, in Brazil, plastic surgery is so normalized that it’s almost odd not to have some sort of cosmetic surgery during a lifetime. That’s in large part thanks to a famous surgeon named Dr. Ivo Pitanguy who believed that all people, regardless of income level, have a right to plastic surgery. A recent investigation by Vice took viewers into a Brazilian clinic now run by Pitanguy’s grandson. They interviewed doctors and patients alike, who identified cosmetic surgeries to be the norm. One woman said that she had been saving up throughout her life, just as one would with a retirement fund, for the surgeries she anticipated to get as she aged. Another told the reporter that her breast augmentation made her feel like “another woman” after having children.
“I decided to do it to raise my self-esteem,” she said through translation.
Vice reporters also talked with physicians about low-income clients who were receiving cost breaks for procedures they could not afford on their own.
“I consider it a part of medicine that is the treatment of the body and soul,” one doctor told the camera via a translator.
So why the cultural difference? In Brazil, plastic surgeries are often viewed as a way to improve personal satisfaction. Look good, feel good. On the flip side, cosmetic surgeries in the United States might be associated with low self-esteem or vanity.
Thankfully, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer or “perfect” reason for having plastic surgery. If you are ready for the procedure, then that’s your choice to make. It really is amazing how a small change, like a brow lift or Botox, can improve the way one feels about his or herself. Likewise, more dramatic procedures like fat grafting or a face lift can have a lasting effect on a person’s confidence and well-being.
Whether you are considering getting CoolSculpting, liposuction, a Mommy Makeover, or another procedure, you should not be embarrassed or worried about what others will think of your choice. No matter your location, you can adopt the Brazilian mentality that everyone has a right to love the way that they look.