On Instagram, one look reigns supreme. High cheekbones, big lips, perfect skin, and a small nose dominate the internet with a stare that is both intimidating and alluring. Celebrity makeup artist Colby Smith calls this look “Instagram Face” for its popularity on the platform. Smith describes this fashionable face as looking “like it’s made out of clay.” In fact, the faces of the Instagram elite are in many cases molded out of the world’s sexiest clay — fillers.
Plastic surgery’s rise
The Instagram Face is achieved through the skilled precision of a plastic surgeon, and as our technology develops, the required procedures become easier to perform, meaning that the barriers that kept young people from surgery are becoming less and less prevalent.
In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration approved hyaluronic-acid fillers to restructure jawlines, noses, and cheeks. Fillers do not require surgery and are, therefore, much cheaper than surgical enhancements. A popular filler known as Juvederm is a mere $499 per syringe in Canada, a small price to pay for beauty.
Prior to 2004, plastic surgery would require going under the knife, a lengthy recovery period, and thousands of dollars. Today, the same satisfying effects can be achieved in a 15-minute procedure with an expected one-day recovery time. This ease of access is reflected in the amount of people getting cosmetic procedures; according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Americans received more than 2.5 million filler injections in 2018.
Your body is a trend
The ability this surgical technology gives us is amazing in many ways. Feeling at home in your body is important, but the smooth and seamless face influencers create for themselves is not about feeling good — it’s about following a trend. Its incredible proportions are the fashion right now, but in twenty years, that trend may change.
The Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) — a cosmetic procedure in which surgeons remove fat from other areas of a woman’s body and transfer it to their butt — became very fashionable in the 2010s with celebrities like Kim Kardashian celebrating the procedure. A report from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported that since 2015, BBLs have increased by 77.6 per cent. In the early 2000s, movies tore apart women with “fat asses” and now, as 2000s trends like low rise jeans come back, the BBL is also fading from pop culture. Even celebrities like Kim K are getting them removed!
Trends are volatile and ever changing, so when you mold your face to follow what is currently in, it’s inevitable that your expensive and painful look will soon be out.
Youth and beauty
The combination of easy access to plastic surgery and the normalcy with which these trends are treated is a dangerous cocktail for the young social media user. Young women, ages 16–24 years old, spend an average of three hours and 11 minutes a day online. When you spend hours every day seeing the same body trends, it feels like there is only one way to be desirable. As humans, we have a need to fit in, and this need is especially prevalent among young adults, who are desperate to find their place in the world.
Surgery offers a tantalizing solution. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 200,000 people, 19 years old and younger, had plastic surgery in 2013. The results may satisfy your want to fit in but only for as long as that surgery is in style.
Cosmetic surgery, when carefully researched and thought about, can help people feel more secure in their bodies, which should be celebrated. What is dangerous is the idea that to feel secure we all have to follow the same beauty trends. True beauty comes from within, and in ten years, your biggest insecurity may just be the next big trend.