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On the cover: Buying beauty

 by Tara Brite
 published on Thursday, September 14, 2006

/issues/arts/697677
Katie E. Lehman / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
 
More people died from liposuction complications than car accidents in 1996, according to a 2000 report. /issues/arts/697677
Katie E. Lehman / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
More people died from liposuction complications than car accidents in 1996, according to a 2000 report.
 
/issues/arts/697677
Katie E. Lehman / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
 
/issues/arts/697677
Katie E. Lehman / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
 
Valley cosmetic surgeon Dr. Summer Daiza bought advertising space in ASUís camptoons calendar, which is handed out for free to students on campus each semester./issues/arts/697677
Katie E. Lehman / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
Valley cosmetic surgeon Dr. Summer Daiza bought advertising space in ASUís camptoons calendar, which is handed out for free to students on campus each semester.
 

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From Ashlee Simpson's nose and Pamela Anderson's breasts to Demi Moore's, well, everything, it's apparent that cosmetic surgery has become a frequent occurrence among celebrities today.

But celebrities aren't the only ones going under the knife.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, patients between the ages of 19 and 34 made up about a quarter of the 11.5 million cosmetic procedures last year. All together, Americans spent $12.4 billion nipping and tucking.



Mass marketing

With such a large pool of young people, it's no wonder that surgeons like Dr. Summer Daiza of the Plastic Surgery Center of Scottsdale, located at 10900 N. Scottsdale Road, are advertising directly to ASU students.

Daiza ran an advertisement for 10 percent off breast augmentation, liposuction, tummy tucks, chemical peels, skin care and other cosmetic procedures in ASU's Camptoons promotion map.

The Camptoons promotion features a cartoon map of ASU in the center of a large flyer with advertisements and coupons around the edges. The map is distributed free to students on campus at the start of each semester. An advertisement on the map costs $495 for one semester or $790 for two semesters.

Daiza says an advertising program at ASU called her and asked if she would like to place an ad on the map. This was her first time advertising the Plastic Surgery Center at ASU.

So far, Daiza says several students have responded to the ad, although she would not give an exact number. She hasn't performed surgery on any of the students. They are mostly waiting for winter break, she says.

"I know [students] are having surgeries," she adds. "They're getting a lot of breast augmentations around town."

But Daiza says she hasn't seen much of that student population at the Plastic Surgery Center of Scottsdale - yet.

"As my name gets out there, I probably will," she says.

In previous years, Daiza says teenage patients made up about 4 percent of her clientele. Many of them come in for breast reductions and nose reshaping. But most younger patients come in seeking liposuction, breast augmentation and skin-care procedures like chemical peels.

These most popular procedures reflect those most frequently performed nationally. According to ASAPS, the top five surgical procedures in 2005 were liposuction, breast augmentation, cosmetic eye surgery, nose reshaping and tummy tucks.

Deborah Sullivan, an ASU sociology professor and author of the book "Cosmetic Surgery: The Cutting Edge of Commercial Medicine in America," says breast augmentation is particularly popular among students.

In fact, ASAPS reports that 50.7 percent of those 19- to 34-year-olds who had cosmetic surgery in 2005 had some sort of breast augmentation.

"A lot of people think, 'Oh, it's elderly people getting cosmetic surgery,'" Sullivan says. "But oh, it's not."

Take, for example, criminal justice sophomore Kelly Ruark.

In 2006, Ruark got a breast augmentation to go from an A cup size to a D.

She says she thought about getting breast implants for a long time before she made the decision to have surgery. She finally made the decision because it would make her more comfortable with her body type.

"It wasn't about society says, 'This is pretty,' which is what I think a lot of people do," she adds. "I wanted to be proportional."

Ruark says her body type has always been bigger than her breast size. She didn't feel that her A cup matched her waist size.

"I was at that age where I'm not growing anymore," she says. "This is my body. I can deal with it, or I can change it."



Standardized beauty

But many people get plastic surgery for other reasons, and Sullivan says this says a lot about society.

"Appearance is highly rated in our society," she says. "More attractive children get more attention from their parents. More attractive young adults date more, mate more and marry more. And they're more likely to get hired and get higher pay."

This is well known among young people today, she says. "Certainly by the time you're a young adult, you've figured out that an attractive appearance has an enormously strong halo that shines over you."

Sullivan says that is why many young people turn to plastic surgery. Celebrities also affect the way young people today judge beauty.

When actress Fanny Brice had a nose job in the '20s, people were shocked.

"But I remember another actress - Barbara Streisand - who had a big nose, and people said, 'Why doesn't she get a nose job?'" Sullivan adds. "That says a lot about the shift in public opinion."

Society wasn't always focused on standardized beauty. For example, in the 1800s, when TV and movie stars did not exist, Sullivan says beauty was based on real people in real communities.

"I don't think that's true anymore," she adds. "Our standards are based on what we see in the media and in entertainment. Because a lot of people who are in the public eye have a fair amount of cosmetic surgery, our standard of appearance isn't a natural standard of appearance.

"Then there's Photoshopping. They certainly can erase those wrinkles."



Selling to students

Sullivan says it bothers her that plastic surgeons would advertise directly to students on a college campus.

"The whole notion of advertising is to create demand." she says. "And the same way that fast food industries' advertisements dangle something in front of your eyes, so does any physician who advertises cosmetic surgery. It increases the rapid epidemic of cosmetic surgery."

Sullivan says the entertainment industry exposes students to standardized concepts of beauty.

"Students would be very vulnerable thinking, 'Oh, this is nothing,'" she says. "They watch 'The Swan' or 'Extreme Makeover' and think it's nothing."

Advertising cosmetic surgery only makes it worse, Sullivan says. "When you advertise it, you're tapping into the angst of young adults who feel perhaps they're not perfect. It's a time of insecurity about appearance. [Advertising] promotes this."

But Daiza says students who are 18 and older can make their own decisions. And national regulations prevent surgeons from performing aesthetic cosmetic surgery on anyone younger than age 18.

"If [a minor] wants something done, we wait until you're adult age and legal," she says.

Ruark says it doesn't bother her that plastic surgeons can advertise to students on campus.

"I'm not the only one who's wanted it for a long time," she says. "Younger people are their clientele."

But Ruark says students shouldn't get cosmetic surgery just to look like someone in a magazine.

"Looks change all the time," she says. "I think a lot of people change their appearance because of trends. That's just totally wrong. If you're going to do it, you should do it to be more comfortable with who you are."



Reach the reporter at tara.brite@asu.edu



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