A passage from Matt Haig’s memoir ‘Reasons to Stay Alive‘ got me thinking this morning. “The world is increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more?”
How do advertising agencies sell an anti-ageing moisturizer? They make their target audience worry about ageing. How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything that could possibly go wrong. How do you get them to have cosmetic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws. How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out. How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind in the technology stakes.
“To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business.”
So it is with our world of cosmetic surgery enhancement. Having our physical flaws pointed out to us is the strongest marketing tool out there. And, to have those flaws remarked on by your peer group, whether at college or in the office set down a call for action. The COVID pandemic has brought this to the foreground in our lives. Previously it was only celebrities and people with a public persona who felt a daily need to look at their best. Now we are all TV stars on our Zoom meetings and Facetime chats.
Whilst we can filter our static Instagram images and Facebook profile pics we are in the full glare of the camera when we are out there on Zoom or facetime. We are pixellated every week of our working life and the young generation are pixellated on their distance learning courses.
Imagine you are an 18-year-old student just starting in university and you are locked down in your student room. The first time most of your fellow students will meet you is in a virtual lecture space rather than over a casual drink at a ‘freshers' evening. How insecure will that make you feel? So, stuck in your lonely student room with just your laptop for company you are subjected to perfectly curated images of women of your generation who have sculpted their faces and torsos to Photoshop perfection. Their youthful faces are not stuck in some kind of weird ‘Botox freeze' that your parents joked about. No, they look like you, just better. Implicit in many of the postings is the subliminal message that this could be you.
Not only can you enjoy pain-free, uncomplicated cosmetic tweaks you can finance them with low-cost loans.
Rather than obsessing over what we perceive as flaws, maybe for once, we could appreciate the wrinkle or the grey hair that we see on our Zoom screens. It's a revolutionary act to notice those tiny moments of beauty so we can stop stuffing the pockets of beauty brands and plastic surgeons and those pesky social influencers. Cosmetic surgery and happiness – is this an oxymoron? Can cosmetic surgery bring real happiness or are we just chasing a marketeer's dream? Which is, after all, a pretty revolutionary thought from a cosmetic surgery site.