Among the more surprising consequences of the novel coronavirus arriving in the UK has been the spike in interest in cosmetic surgery that’s resulted. It might not be clear at first how one leads to the other; how does being trapped indoors all day, working from home, lead us to become more interested in seeking to go under the knife? The picture is a complicated one, but we can, with some confidence, point to a few key factors.
It’s been recognised for some time that social media drives body insecurity. The algorithms have adapted to keep us all engaged – often at the expense of every other consideration. And one of the things that keeps us engaged most effectively is imagery of beautiful people posing. This presents a distorted impression of how human beings are supposed to look, and causes many of us to feel bad that we don’t match up to the standard set by our influencer-of-choice. Breast enlargement and other popular cosmetic procedures are driven by this kind of aspirational content – and it’s only likely to get more popular in the future.
The problem is exacerbated by the filters offered by Instagram and similar platforms, which actually allow you to alter your own face with just the touch of a few icons. Young girls are increasingly seeing this as an testing laboratory for future surgical interventions. While Instagram moved in 2019 to ban filters of this kind, they were still finding their way onto the platform in early 2020.
Staring at our own faces on conference calls hasn’t helped much, either – especially if we’re obliged to do it for hours on end. Many of spend the time examining our blemishes, many of which are exaggerated by the slightly fish-eyed camera on a laptop or phone. There’s plenty of anecdotal effort to suggest an increase in double-chin reduction, driven by the fact that so many of us are looking down into our laptop cameras.
Surveys from Ipsos MORI indicate that around half of people who’ve gone into lockdown have ended up putting weight on as a result. Some, if not most of these people will be able to shift the excess weight through diet and exercise. But given that Christmas time is usually one in which we gain weight, it’s likely that many of us will result to surgical interventions in 2021.
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