Learning to Love Your Body: Easier Said than Done

Buttock and Breast Augmentation (NYC), Park Plaza Plastic Surgery New York (NY)

When people criticize plastic surgery and those who seek it out, one of the common arguments is that we should learn to love our bodies instead of trying to change them. From the critics comparing plastic surgery to an eating disorder to those outraged at the popularity of procedures like inverted nipple correction and breast enlargement, the mantra is that you should "try and love and [accept] your body as is." Some recommend it as a daily ritual, as for example an article in O magazine that advised women to look at themselves in a full-length mirror every morning and night and give themselves compliments. Others recommend using a statement like "I am perfect just the way I am," as a charm whenever negative feelings about our bodies arise.

The problem is that it may not work.  Although there are many studies that suggest the power of positive thinking, at least one recent study calls it into question. A study published in the July 2009 issue of Psychological Science suggests that positive thinking may only work for people who already have high self-esteem.  The study surveyed college students to separate them into groups of people who have high self-esteem and those that have low self-esteem.  The researchers found that when these two groups were told to use positive thinking exercises, the group with high self-esteem experienced an emotional boost, while those with negative self-esteem actually felt worse.

It is a very easy thing to say that people should learn to love themselves the way they are, but many of the people making the recommendations are coming from a very different place than those they are trying to help. Self-consciousness about our bodies is a very deeply-ingrained characteristic of our psyche, reinforced regularly by memories of being judged and rejection sensitivity. For many of us, it is not possible to simply will ourselves to love our bodies.

Plastic surgery cannot help people with generalized self-dislike, but it is a good option for people who have a specific problem with their bodies that prevents them from feeling comfortable with their appearance. If you would like to discuss plastic surgery to improve your appearance, please schedule a consultation with New York plastic surgeon Dr. George Lefkovits today.