by Adriana Villavicencio
Where I’m from, breast augmentations – more commonly referred to as “boob jobs” – are so ubiquitous, it’s almost a bigger deal if you haven’t gotten one. But plastic surgery is not just a Hollywood/South Beach phenomenon; nor is it limited to the rich and famous. In the last few years, the rate of elective surgery has risen among more working class folks, among minority groups, and especially among Latinos.
The American Society of Plastic surgeons reported that Hispanics led all minority groups in cosmetic surgery. What’s more, there has been a 49% increase in procedures among Hispanics since 2000.
Hispanics and Latinos are also significantly represented on an international scale. According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), Brazil ranks third and Mexico fifth in the percent of total procedures worldwide. Argentina, Colombia, and Venezuela are also in the top 25.
Why the Increase?
Plastic surgery offices in major cities like LA, NYC, and Miami have expanded their outreach to Latino clientele by hiring bilingual employees, buying Spanish advertising and making once prohibitively expensive procedures affordable through payment plans.
The doctors who work with these Latinos also hypothesize that we, as a people, are just more invested in our outward appearance. Whether this is an insult or poppycock (or both), it is certainly consistent with stereotypes of Latinos as image-obsessed, especially women. We don’t see our men lining up to get hair transplants and lipo for their beer guts.
Chasing the “Latina” Silhouette
Undergoing risky procedures and painful recovery seem like an extreme measure – like plunging into a dark cave full of orcs and flying piranhas. But what’s even more disconcerting is suffering through surgery in order to better fit into a standard of beauty that isn’t your own. Surgeons, for example, are seeing a number of Asian American women asking for double eye lid surgery, which essentially erases some of what make Asians distinctly beautiful.
Those who wish to erase their ethnic features with surgery or other means face the pressure of assimilating into narrowly defined image of beauty. But what about Latinas?
Naturally beautiful staff writer, Arlene Olivencia, mentioned last week’s NY Times article that seemed to celebrate the fact that Latinas were electing procedures which matched their cultural ideal rather than obscure it. The article itself was based on stereotypes of the buxom, bodacious, voluptuous Latina – thin, but not skinny with sizable breasts and an equally big (if not bigger) backside.
So maybe this is slightly better than a generation of Latinas trying to suction away any extra thickness in order to look more “white.” But it’s still another standard of beauty externally imposed on women, one which keeps them focused on what’s fleeting and not on what matters most.
Invest in something besides your body and your face
I am in no position to judge someone who wants to look their best and feel confident in their appearance. I can be just as vain as the next person. But one day, no matter what, we will no longer be beautiful on the outside. I hope by then we have turned just as much attention to who we are on the inside.
To learn more about Adriana, visit The Radical Ideas.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.