Today more and more Americans are choosing plastic surgery. The number of cosmetic plastic surgeries has increased by 7 percent from 2005 to 2006. According to the statistics of the American Association of Plastic, Surgeons women have undergone 9.9 million cosmetic procedures, whereas men – 1.1 million. We can observe that the overall tendency of the population towards cosmetic plastic surgery is rising, as since the year 2000 the number of people that underwent these interferences had increased by 55% and 8% for women and men accordingly. It appears that the most popular surgical cosmetic procedures for women in 2006 were breast augmentation (329,000), liposuction (268,000), rhinoplasty (223,000), eyelid surgery (196,000), and abdominoplasty (140,000). The top surgical cosmetic procedures for men, on the other hand, are nose reshaping (85,000), eyelid surgery (37,000), liposuction (35,000), hair transplantation (20,000), and also male breast reduction (20,000). For male patients, the percentages of breast reductions, facelifts, and liposuctions, have risen dramatically, whereas, for women, breast lifts, facelifts, and breast augmentations suffered the most significant increase. These data support the fact that the general tendency towards this type of medical aesthetical intervention is on the rise, especially as the people are getting wealthier and the prices of the procedures are going down. The increase of prosperity may be considered a factor that encourages people to choose plastic surgery, however, this is not quite accurate.
A study, carried out by the American Association of Plastic Surgeons had revealed, that 30% of the people who plan to have the surgery in the next two years have an average household income of less than $30,000 per year. About 41% of this category has their average household income in the range from $31,000 to $60,000, 16% from 61,000 to 90,000, and only 13% had salaries over $90,000 per year. The study also demonstrated that 26% were from 18 to 29 years old, 38% from 30 to 49 years old, and 36% were over 50. It is also an interesting fact that 85% of those polled were Caucasians, and over 85% were women. Many of the people that were polled had a feeling that by going for plastic surgery they would achieve psychological, emotional, and social improvements. Most of them stated that they are interested in upgrading their looks, however are not motivated by conceit. Instead, they asserted that they are doing this to fix a physical feature that has been bothering them. 70% of the polled said that they expect to benefit psychologically, for example, gain happiness, and improve self-confidence and self-esteem. Curiously, it was also discovered that 45% of people, for the most part, men, had expectations that plastic surgery would provide them with social benefits, such as being more accepted by the opposite sex and at the workplace. It is quite common, especially for women to have further surgeries to improve their look after they have entered the plastic surgery circuit.
Certainly, some stereotypes do fuel the use of cosmetic surgery. A major stereotype is the bias of an individual based on his/her appearance. If a person is perceived as unattractive at the workplace, he or she may be stereotyped for performing at a lower quality than the more physically attractive individuals. Such perception of a person leads to workplace discrimination. In some organizations, appearance norms may have the effect of being more favorable to the young, white, and physically not disabled. Those, who do not submit to these norms, regularly become victims of severe sanctions and therefore workplace discrimination. For example, a TV anchor then gets fired because she is too ugly, old, unfeminine, doesn’t dress right, or a car rental manager that despite his high performance over five years gets dismissed for being obese. Such aspects, as issues with the dress code, are not as problematic to fix, as the aspects of one’s physical appearance. This is where to prevent workplace discrimination people appeal to plastic surgery, as their last resort. It is not always inappropriate to evaluate employees based on their appearance however such cases, as mentioned above can easily shatter the efforts to build a fair workplace. Furthermore, the rejection of such physically unattractive individuals fails the principle of diversity, as it can rationalize sexism, ageism, racism, and other types of prejudgment.
Although it is possible to hold an argument that everyone is beautiful, the coarse reality still demonstrates the widespread attractiveness standards of facial features, stature, and body weight, and also the high prevalence of those deviating from these standards. It is a known fact, that attractive adults receive much more favorable treatment from others than unattractive ones. Therefore the strive of an individual towards being treated more favorably, as well as avoidance of being stereotyped, accompanied by conviction of personal unattractiveness fuels the use of plastic surgery. Several studies have revealed a relation of physical attractiveness to occupational success (Stone & Dipboye, 1992). The fact that more attractive persons are advantageous during the initial screening and selection for the conditions of the job their greater occupational success. A study showed that the physical appearance of the applicant influences employers’ selection at all phases of the process (Crandall, 1994). It is a frequent stereotype that attractive individuals provide a better fit for the job and the organization. If a person does not associate with the “ideal worker” stereotype he will get discriminated upon, as he will be considered possessing little attributes required for the job.
People are raised from infancy to believe that good and bad, clean and dirty, smart and dumb are all qualities that are accordingly related to physically attractive and unattractive individuals. Even if we were to look at a fairytale, such as “Cinderella”, where all that is good is represented by a handsome prince and beautiful princess, and all that is bad – by ugly stepmother and stepsisters we would be able to observe that beauty suggests goodness, whereas ugliness implies to wickedness. A Pygmalion effect is referred to as a situation where one person’s (employer’s) high expectations of another person (employee) lead to a rise of performance of the latter, confirming the first person’s expectations. If an employee is unattractive, the employer may subconsciously consider him to be unfit for the position, therefore have low-performance expectancies. The low level of performance expectancy of the employer, according to the Pygmalion effect will induce lower performance of the employee that will make him look incompetent in the eyes of his boss. Hence, to improve the overall workplace position, some individuals consider plastic surgery to be an ultimate remedy. They believe that with improved physical attractiveness they will gain more strength, and will be able to believe in their work capabilities, therefore improve workplace performance. Such a phenomenon of improvement of performance due to the high level of personal expectations is called the Galatea effect and is relative to the Pygmalion effect. A study of the Pygmalion effect had assumed and proved that raising supervisory expectations of productivity in the workplace improves individual subordinate performance (Livingston, 1969). If due to physical unattractiveness of employee, the supervisor applies low work expectations then the Golem effect is prevailing. It is the negative version of the Pygmalion effect. The adverse subordinate results which are generated because of low supervisory expectations are the aspects that characterize this phenomenon. The Golem effect plays a role in inspiring unattractive persons towards plastic surgery to improve their appearance, by this increase work expectation of their supervisor, and bring the effect to a stop.
Concluding the aforesaid, physical appearance is a very important factor in today’s organization. It plays a crucial role in determining one’s chances of getting the job, as well as further career growth. According to the general rising plastic surgery tendency among Americans, more and more people are realizing the important share of attractiveness in modern companies and are attempting to mold their appearance following the “ideal worker” stereotype. Most people recognize the expression that beauty is in the “eye of the beholder”. As long as beauty is in his eye, he holds expectation-type power over the beholding object that is the employee. As a result, the beholders (Pygmalions) create those who live up to their expectations (Galateas), as well as those who live down to their expectations (Golems). A person that does not possess any remarkable skills at what he does is more likely to succeed using a favorable attractive physical appearance. However if an individual does not wield such a quality, he might consider plastic surgery as an ultimate solution to the problem. However, if the worker has considerable experience and performs his tasks with great skill, the physical attractiveness pales into insignificance, although incompletely.
Concerning myself, I would never consider the use of plastic surgery as an instrument that would induce career growth and enhance workplace opportunities. I do not account myself as being physically unattractive, and even though I may not correspond to the stereotype of an “ideal worker”, I would rather concentrate on gaining experience and improving my work-related skills, than littering the conscience with unnecessary fixed ideas.
“2006 Procedural Statistics Press Kit” American Association of Plastic Surgeons. 2007. Web.
Crandall, C. S. “Prejudice against fat people: Ideology and self-interest.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 66 (1994): 882-894.
Livingston, J. S. “Pygmalion in management”. Harvard Business Review 47(4) (1969): 81-89.
Stone, E. F., Stone, D. L., and Dipboye, R. L. “Stigmas in organizations: Race, handicaps, and physical unattractiveness.” Issues, theory, and research in industrial and organizational psychology (1992): 385-457.