Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Real life catfish: should celebrities and influencers be obligated to disclose whether they’ve had plastic surgery

Students discuss the impact of unachievable beauty standards
Shilpa Sweth
Daily Collegian (2023)

For a majority of history, women have been pushed to conform to a beauty standard. Though this standard is continuously changing, women are always expected to put in the work to present themselves a certain way.

This toxic history has made women insecure of the way they look, which has increased the popularity of appearance altering actions including diet culture, plastic surgery and medications that facilitate weight loss (like Ozempic). This has greatly affected how women cope with conforming to the beauty standard. However, these methods aren’t too easily available.

Strategies of changing your appearance, like the ones listed above, can cost a lot of money. So it makes sense that these procedures are more easily available to people who make larger amounts of money, like celebrities and influencers. These celebrities and influences uphold an unrealistic standard of beauty, including thinness/curviness, which is often unattainable for many who cannot afford these costly methods. Additionally, these people often lie about how they achieved their beauty in the first place.

Many celebrities and influencers have had work done, but very few choose to admit it. Surgeons speak out and fans speculate about who has had work done, but these high-profile individuals never admit that their looks may not be natural. Situations like these have had a massive impact on younger viewers.

Young women on social media are incredibly impressionable, and as most women know, teenage girls are often very self-conscious of how they look. Eating disorders are rampant in the younger generation and plastic surgery has become more popular than ever. Girls are feeling like they’ve failed at upholding the beauty standard, a standard unachievable without the resources that celebrities and influencers have.

According to the articles linked above, the younger generation is affected by the issue of social media influencing how they feel about themselves. The study done on the relationship between social media and plastic surgery stated that, “viewing cosmetic surgery–related material on social media, spending longer hours on social media platforms, and having negative self-views when viewing social media are associated with an increased likelihood of considering undergoing cosmetic procedures in the future.” They also said that there aren’t enough studies talking about this relationship, and with how big of a problem it’s becoming, that isn’t okay.

Every day, I see young women around me affected by this, and I have even felt upset by it myself. Body image has always been a struggle for me, and even when I was at my thinnest, I was still self-conscious about my appearance and constantly comparing myself to the people that I would see on social media.

The number of times I’ve considered getting a nose job because my nose doesn’t fit the perfect button-nose standard is too many to count. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, having talked to many of my friends about their own feelings of insecurity. Considering the issues that it can cause, should celebrities and influencers be obligated to disclose whether they’ve had any cosmetic surgery?

91 percent of the women on the UMass campus that I spoke to selected the answer “very often” when asked about how often they found themselves on social media. Out of all the interviewees, about 73 percent said that they felt self-conscious immediately after seeing certain celebrities/influencers while they were on social media.

“The modern beauty standard is extremely unrealistic and harsh in my opinion,” Lexie Hyora, a sophomore public health major said.

Almost all of the women interviewed felt the same way. Many of them spoke about how unrealistic the beauty standard is and how it’s hard to conform when things are always changing. In connection with this point, 91 percent of the interviewees stated that they did not feel like they fit the modern beauty standard and also agreed that they’ve seen influencers/celebrities lie about how they achieved their appearance on social media.

Of the 11 girls interviewed, nine agreed that, if asked, celebrities/influencers are obligated to disclose whether they’ve had plastic surgery/cosmetic procedures.

“If you are in a position of power, it’s your responsibility to tell your audience that it’s not necessary,” Amelia McHugh, a sophomore biology major said.

Similar opinions were held on this question, and several answers described how not opening up about this would further harm the minds of younger viewers.

The response was very different when part of the question was changed. A majority of the women answered “no” when asked if celebrities/influencers should disclose their procedures, even if they aren’t asked. Many of the women agreed that it can be a violation of privacy and, in that situation, if celebrities/influencers didn’t want to disclose the information, they didn’t have to.

“It is hard because it does set unrealistic standards [being] in the public eye, but it is also unfair to force people to talk about things that are quite personal,” Anastasia Shub, a sophomore engineering student said.

Based on the interviews, it seems that most young women believe the best way to go about this issue is by being honest.

“I think that lying about this is harmful because people will be comparing themselves to looks that are not naturally attainable,” Molly Lavin, a sophomore education major said.

With all of this in consideration, the public seems to have the opinion that disclosing this information is the right thing to do. However, it’s impossible to control. You can’t force someone to reveal something about themselves. Considering the stigma around cosmetic surgery and the idea that someone must be moderately insecure to get it in the first place, many people in the public eye might never want to open up about that kind of personal information.

“At the end of the day, influencers are just people and they are permitted to keep their own business private,” Hyora said.

 Ava Hebenstreit can be reached at [email protected] 

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