Body positivity is about recognizing that people of all shapes and sizes deserve to love their bodies for what they are and knowing that most people struggle with body image issues, regardless of their body type. “I wanted to be a cosmetic doctor so I could help women feel good about themselves, feel special.” Dr. Enfry Salas explained what attracted him to the industry.
Origins and Evolution of Body-positivity
This movement finds its roots in one of the longest running fat rights associations, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. It was founded by Bill Fabrey who was angry at the way overweight people were treated. The internet became the next battlefront where body-shamers and body-activists would face off.
Sonya Renee Taylor’s spoken word video “The Body is Not An Apology” came in response to the rising spate of cyberbullying during the 2000’s. Sonya wanted the movement to serve as a catalyst, “for people loving and embracing all the ways in which they show up on this planet.” By 2012 the viral video led to the creation of a digital media company advocating body positivity.
Fast forward to present times and one will find that body positivity has evolved into the #BOPO buzz phrase that has been used millions of times and rise of a new movement advocating for “body neutrality”. Body neutrality takes a functional viewpoint of the body.
Driving Factors for Cosmetic Surgery
In an older study researchers wanted to understand what driving factors were influencing people’s likelihood of opting for cosmetic surgery. The findings indicated that women who rated their self-esteem, life satisfaction and attractiveness as “low” paired with high media exposure were more likely to seek cosmetic surgery.
Research into the psychological results of aesthetic surgery had positive results across areas such as anxiety, social phobia, depression, body dysmorphia, quality of life, life satisfaction, mental and physical health, self-esteem and well-being. Participants expressing dissatisfaction with a particular physical feature who underwent cosmetic surgery afterwards have reported positive psychological changes.
Body-positivity and Aesthetic Surgery: Not Mutually Exclusive
At the core of the body-positivity movement lies the declaration that everyone, regardless of their physical appearance or alterations to it, is entitled to self-love. An article examining the psychology of plastic and reconstructive surgery has found that aesthetic surgery can help alleviate psychological distress. This is especially true in reconstructive surgery cases where both the appearance and function of affected body parts are restored through surgical means.
In a separate study focussing on the psychological health of persons who seek aesthetic surgery, it was found that parties interested in cosmetic surgery appeared generally psychologically healthy. The most frequent goal was “to feel better about / in one’s own body,” tying in with the basic foundations of body-positivity.
Nearly 7 million reconstructive procedures were performed last year, according to a statement released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The top five reconstructive procedures included: tumor removal, laceration repair, scar revision, maxillofacial surgery and hand surgery.
Body contouring after massive weight loss was found to significantly improve the general perception of personal appearance, helping already stigmatized individuals improve how they feel about and perceive themselves.
Patients in the study reported a significant enhancement of their quality of life with regards to psychological well-being, social functioning, sexual well-being and body image. Through the freedom of choice many individuals want to improve the way they look and feel about themselves. Aesthetic surgery is not only the expression of that freedom, but an artform.
“We are bombed continuously with new trends on social media,” Dr. Enfry Salas explains, “but there is something that is absolutely timeless. It doesn’t matter what product you use or treatment you perform. The point is to look for the most natural results. To find the beauty of each lip, each skin, each face and turn it into a better version of itself.”
Enfry Clinic offers a pro bono program for patients who have been a victim of an accident, cancer, or suffers from a syndrome and needs help with facial scars or asymmetry. The positive psychological effects from cosmetic surgery can aid in the journey of self-acceptance patients find themselves on.