Let’s take a dive into the psychology of beauty, and what constitutes that which is considered attractive. We’ve all heard “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” That age old axiom from the 1800’s basically means that what one finds beautiful is completely subjective. Being subjective originates in one’s own mind, and one’s own bias. This is the angle that I take when approaching patients, because what I may think they need is not necessarily that they think they need. We see ourselves through our own lens. Maybe we focus on a specific area, like the nose, or around the mouth, or the eyes. Or we compare ourselves to other people and what is trending as “in” at the moment.
This opens an entire area of research on body dysmorphia and links with social media. Body dysmorphia is a mental health condition in which one can’t stop thinking about perceived defects or flaws in one’s appearance, leading to body dissatisfaction. This causes distress and anxiety in the person, and seeking cosmetic procedures is one of the many ways people with this can temporarily reduce the distress (in addition to eating disorders and taking anabolic steroids or other body enhancing supplements). It’s prudent to identify this when working with patients. Because often there is a skewed perception of self, and it’s difficult to satisfy a person who perceives themselves so negatively.
When watching movies or TV, it’s become entertainment for me to pinpoint what “work” the actor or actress has had. I can tell when a plump filler was used in the lips. How it was injected (with needle or cannula), a guess on how many syringes of filler were used in the cheeks, or product around the perimeters of the face because the midface just doesn’t move with speaking or expression. Where the tox was placed in the forehead because the eyebrows are very quizzical looking. I can basically tell when an actress doesn’t really look like herself anymore. Also, people who have had a lot of work done sort of take on an androgenous look, so they almost look like everyone else who has had a lot of work done. Side thought…are we, as providers, creating what it means to look “beautiful” in the injection world, with a standard? Like a positive reinforcement loop: the more often we are exposed to something, the more likely we are to view that positively. Deep thoughts by Laurel.
Circling back to what social psychologists have quantified as physically attractive is basic and comes down to biology and choosing a mate for procreation. A youthful glow, symmetry of facial features. Pillowy fullness to the lips with a deep pink color. Chin and jaw definition for males. Rounded and soft facial features for females. Another aspect of attraction is familiarity. People are more attracted to that which is familiar. Dr. Robert Zajonc (1968) labeled the phenomenon as the Mere-Exposure effect. Just being around someone or being repeatedly exposed to them increases the likelihood that we will be attracted to them. Evolutionarily speaking, will voluptuous lips, pronounced cheek bones, and a frozen forehead eventually be the norm, or are we in a fad? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
This leads me to think Less is More. I honestly don’t think that more filler in the cheeks makes someone look better. I don’t think that having unnaturally large lips looks good. And I know I’m not alone in that thought. I enjoy seeing character, unique features and expression. I like seeing what makes you You, and trying to keep that visible. Not to make you look like someone else. And it really doesn’t take much to restore what has been lost over the years for the older client. Or in the younger patient plumping the lips just a little so they are symmetric and popping with you’re favorite lip gloss. I don’t wish to exaggerate one area and draw negative attention, but instead for people to take in the whole picture and say “wow, you look really nice! What is your secret?” That’s my goal as a provider.