Do cosmetic treatments indicate low self esteem?

Its fairly common, that every time I post an article relating to facial cosmetic enhancement procedures, I receive several comments about how the only people who indulge in anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers and other procedures, have very low self esteem.

Really?? If a woman colours her hair…does that indicate low self esteem? How about wearing colour-coordinated, good quality clothing- low self esteem again? Orthodontics to straighten teeth so that they look better… are parents forcing low self esteem on their children?

I believe that people who judge and criticise others, usually do it from a place of ignorance. As a medical practitioner, I have always been comfortable to admit when, “I just don’t know enough about something to judge it”.

I am certainly not advocating that all women, and in future men, sign up for injectable facial treatments. Neither do I suggest that they colour their hair nor drive luxury cars.
When I initially introduced injectable treatments at the GP clinic where I worked, I received many negative comments from my work colleagues- that it will bring trashy people into our waiting room, that it goes against the ethos of General Practice. Yet, after some time, some of these very criticisers, would knock on my door, sneak in, and ask whether I would inject them.

Remember the days when having acrylic nails done was considered a luxury? When donning eyelash extensions was for a VERY special event? Well, these are now just a part of normal grooming for a large proportion of women. It makes them feel good. Our working lives are now of longer duration and we are competing against the 20-somethings to maintain our place in the workforce. I do not believe that every single person who seeks to look good, necessarily has low self esteem.

However, I do think that the media has a lot to answer for. Standards of what is perceived to be normal are incredibly high and particularly high maintenance. It has rubbed off on the younger generation which seems to see fake-looking as the ‘new normal’.

I believe that cosmetic treatments are now an accepted part of life for many people. As such, I strongly advocate subtle enhancements that allow each person to look and feel the best they can. Much of my work actually involves COUNSELLING, not just injecting. I explore my patients’ reasons for presenting to us; we

do our best to correct beliefs and misperceptions of body image. With my younger patients I discuss important things like saving money to buy a house and car and for children’s education etc and how fake and photoshop are not REAL.

So although my patients come to me for cosmetic enhancements and ‘improving’ their appearance, as an ethical doctor, I also do my best to look after my patients’ inner well-being and self esteem – bearing in mind that we live in a materialistic, competitive and challenging world that is governed by computerisation and social media.