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Cosmetic discussion


Albany, NY – Television programs like Extreme Makeover and The Swan have glorified cosmetic surgery as a cure-all for self-esteem and life difficulties. Doctors performed nearly 12 million cosmetic procedures in the U.S. last year. That's an 8 percent increase since the year 2000. Non-surgical treatments like Botox and laser treatments topped the popularity rankings. Among surgeries, liposuction and breast augmentation had the highest numbers.

Many decry plastic surgery, saying it encourages people - especially women - to be hypercritical of their appearances. But the growing demand is undeniable, to perform tiny battles against the aging process or tweak that one feature that offends. So we called up Dr. Robert Murphy, a plastic surgeon based out of upstate New York. He's been in the business for about 25 years, and he had some interesting views on plastic surgery, self-esteem, and the role of the surgeon.

Often, I think of cosmetic surgery as an attempt to reverse the aging process. But there's one procedure growing in popularity among young Asian women - it's an eyelid-narrowing surgery that makes Asian eyes less almond-shaped and more Westernized. Film documentarian Regina Park decided to follow one young woman named Mei-Ahn as she debated whether to get the eyelid modification. The result was the documentary Never Perfect. 51%'s Meghan Butler sat down with filmmaker Regina Park to pick her brain on Never Perfect and the cultural implications the eyelid surgery.

We conclude our look at cosmetic surgery and body image with a personal essay from 51%'s very beautiful Susan Barnett. Barnett has long struggled to see herself as a beauty - and through a recent story assignment, she brought her struggles to the fore.