Magazines seldom highlight cosmetic surgery’s emotional risks

December 13th, 2008 - 5:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Dec 13 (IANS) Cosmetic surgery might be a worthwhile option for beautifying oneself, but popular magazines seldom address the emotional health risks that it carries.The study by the University of British Columbia (UBC) is the first to examine how women’s magazines portray cosmetic surgery to Canadians.

It also found that male opinions on attractiveness are used to justify cosmetic surgery and that disproportionate number of articles are devoted to breast implants and cosmetic surgery among women aged between 19 and 34.

“Alongside beauty, clothing and diet advice, women’s magazines present cosmetic surgery as a normal practice for enhancing or maintaining beauty, becoming more attractive to men and improving emotional health,” said Andrea Polonijo, who conducted the research at UBC.

Polonijo, now a graduate student at University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, examined how Canada’s five most popular English-language women’s magazines — Chatelaine, Cosmopolitan, O: The Oprah Magazine, Flare and Prevention - portray cosmetic surgery. The study focused on 35 articles published between 2002 and 2006.

“Magazines are communicating the physical risks of cosmetic surgery more than the emotional health risks,” noted Polonijo, noting that studies have found that emotional health issues such as anxiety and depression may arise or increase in women who undergo physically successful cosmetic surgery, regardless of their preoperative emotional state.

Only 18 percent of the articles suggest that cosmetic surgery may be detrimental to emotional well-being, the study found, according to an UBC release.

Magazines routinely present two “ideal” cosmetic surgery candidates, the study found: an unhappy, insecure, lonely woman looking to boost low self-confidence and self-esteem, and a successful, attractive, confident woman brimming with self-esteem who seeks cosmetic surgery to maintain perfection.

“These two profiles represent extremes of a wide range of attitudes, for which many women may view themselves as being somewhere in-between,” said UBC sociology professor Richard Carpiano, co-author of the study.

“This potentially allows for cosmetic surgery to be presented as an option for many women regardless of their preoperative emotional state.”

Men’s opinions were often considered in these cosmetic surgery articles, with 29 per cent discussing the impact that women’s cosmetic surgery has on the male population.

The study was published in Women’s Health Issues journal.

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