From BBLs to Ozempic: should celebrities be more transparent about their appearance?

From BBLs to Ozempic: should celebrities be more transparent about their appearance?

by Juliette Eleuterio
7 min

Celebrities have always been the subject of devoted fascination. Who are they wearing? What car do they drive? Who are they currently dating? Is their Basquiat on display at their NYC penthouse or in their Venice villa? What’s their Erewhon order? But most importantly, how do they look like that? And how can we look like that? The answer is simple: naturally, you can’t.

BBLs, fillers, botox, and the viral buccal fat removal and use of Ozempic have become trends that come and go quicker than sounds on your TikTok feed. Penetrating the gated communities of LA quicker than a plague, tummies are suddenly tucked and cheek bones protrude more than ever before, but the general consensus stays the same: no appointments were booked at the surgeon’s office, at least according to the celebrity in question.

The issue at play isn’t the surgery, facial or body modifications undergone by a certain celebrity, but rather the outright denial of said surgery. When a celebrity lies about having undergone some type of surgery, they are dissuading their audience into thinking that they too can achieve this look without any needles or scalpels entering their vicinity. And that is often followed with a product launch that is marketed as a magical fix-all.

@kyliejenner ©

Kylie Jenner’s lips have always been a point of contention, though in the past the younger Jenner sister attributed her voluptuous lips to overlining, and layers upon layers of lipsticks and glosses. Conveniently, fans could then achieve this look with her self-launched beauty brand, Kylie Cosmetics.

Since, Kylie has come out and admitted that she had altered the look of her lips through fillers. In a recent episode of The Kardashians, she even admitted to feelings of regret over her fillers, stating “I don’t want my daughter to do the things I did.” While her motherly instincts were well placed, that same empathy should be shown towards her fanbase, especially considering it mostly consists of young girls, who are more susceptible to dealing with self-esteem issues.

The Kardashian-Jenner sisters may be the poster girls for cosmetic surgeries, but they aren’t the only ones partaking in the controversial activity. Instagram accounts such as @celebface and @celebrityplastics have become the new-age tabloids of exposing before-and-after images of alleged procedures.

Comments along the lines of “I mean come on, why is being transparent or honest about tweaks not the norm?” and “Do we need to have them personally admit [to procedures] to notice that?” have become a common occurrence under these types of posts.

We’ve also seen the rise of plastic surgeons taking to social media to shed light on this issue, most notably Doctor Youn. Known as “America’s Holistic Plastic Surgeon,” he has racked up over 8 million followers for his content where he states his opinion on what celebrities, from the Kardashian-Jenner clan to Margot Robbie, have had done or not done.

In one of his videos, Doctor Youn shares his take on the issue of transparency: “celebrities are not under any obligation to give their personal medical information such as if they’ve had plastic surgery.” He then adds: “if they lie about having work done and claim that they just look this good naturally […], they’re doing their followers a disservice,” by perpetuating “unrealistic expectations of what natural beauty is.”

Coincidentally, the National Library of Medicine conducted a study that found that Instagram users (among other social media platforms) have been “particularly associated with a higher body dissatisfaction and the appearance of [eating disorder] symptoms.”

@kimkardashian ©

A survey conducted by Patient Claim Line, a claim company operated by a team of medical lawyers, found that “Facial cosmetic surgery is most popular amongst young people, with three quarters of participants aged 18-24 admitting to having had cosmetic surgery on their faces, or [are] considering it.” It also found that 45% of Gen Z-ers admitted that social media figures such as influencers impacted their decision or consideration towards cosmetic surgery. 

Unfortunately, young adults’ desire to alter their appearance has a direct correlation to the unrealistic beauty standards propelled notably by social media, and in turn, its most followed users. University of South Australia researcher Lauren Conboy found that “the increase in social media use has been accompanied by an increase in young women having cosmetic surgery.”

While looking at altered faces and bodies that are clearly a result of added plastics feeds the issue of unrealistic beauty standards, there is another factor at play: face filters, Photoshopping, and the general editing of images. At the height of their usage, Instagram face filters were known for slimming noses and airbrushing skin, among their other added playful graphics. 

While most would regard these filters as harmless fun, they reinforced the ideal that bigger noses and blemished skin are not up to modern beauty standards. This is taken to an even further extreme when an entire Photoshop team is behind some of these celebrities’ Instagram posts – obviously, this hasn’t been confirmed by any celebrity, but Kim Kardashian’s supposedly edited shoulders and neck would beg to differ.

Editing photos, just like getting cosmetic surgery, boils down to the same predicament: hiding the truth or straight up lying to your audience on your appearance inevitably brings down their self-esteem. 

It is true that celebrities pay a substantial fee to make sure their hair and makeup artists make them look snatched at all times. Nonetheless, a concave nose-turned-button nose is not a contour job, that’s for sure. 

@bellahadid ©

Though in recent years, we’ve seen some celebrities open up about the procedures they’ve undergone, from simple fillers to a breast augmentation. Bella Hadid recently admitted to having a nose job at age 14, while Dolly Parton has always been upfront about a tuck here and a lift there. This sort of transparency has led to social media users showing off their own experiences with and knowledge on cosmetic procedures, with #filler having over 4 billion views on TikTok.

Again, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting face or body alterations. If you want to jet off to Turkey for rhinoplasty surgery, by all means, go for it. But in the name of transparency and credibility, and the wellbeing of your following, don’t gatekeep your beauty secrets and act like it was a genetic blessing – don’t thank your parents’ good genes for Doctor Miami’s work. Especially when it’s for the sake of selling a “diet” tea that’ll lead to longer hours on the toilet than in front of the mirror.

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