The Stigma of Plastic Surgery: We Asked Americans About It and Here’s What They Had to Say

Jager Weatherby on 15 Dec 2014 at 7:00pm

We here at RealSelf know all too well how plastic surgery can change a person’s life for the better. In fact, we’re so accustomed to seeing these stories of transformation, we often forget that the rest of America may not always feel the same way we do. Or... do they?

Curious about the general population’s feelings on cosmetic surgery, we hit the streets of various cities around the country to hear the opinions of people just like you. What we learned from these interviews was in one way exactly what we expected… and in another, totally surprising.

As you can see from the video above, there were plenty of people who didn’t hesitate to throw around a little judgement.

“Fake people,” said a man in Las Vegas dressed as Elvis. (We’ll try to look past that irony.)

“A lot of people don’t think that they’re beautiful because they’re just [buying into] society’s idea of what beautiful is,” replied a woman in San Diego.

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A recent poll conducted by RealSelf echoed these opinions. When asked about their perception of plastic surgeons, an overwhelming number of people replied with the word “fake.” Given cosmetic surgery’s largely negative coverage in mainstream media, we certainly weren’t surprised. As a matter of fact, we’ve come to expect this type of attitude, which is why we were amazed to learn that the average American is actually more accepting than we originally thought.

While “fake” indeed took a large percentage of our poll, it didn’t take the cake. As you can see from the graphic below, the word “beauty” was hands-down the most frequently used description, followed closely by the word “improvement.”

Plastic Surgery Perception

This positive opinion was mirrored out on the street, where many our interviewees supported a person’s decision to do what felt right for them.

“Go for it,” said one woman in Las Vegas. “It’s a personal choice. I’m not going to judge anyone if they get it or don’t get it.”

“If you want to do something that’ll make you feel better because you’re not happy with [how you look], you should go for it,” a fellow visitor said later that day.

This sentiment’s been echoed by the RealSelf community, including one woman who opened up about the benefits that plastic surgery has had beyond her looks. “I feel so much better about myself [after surgery],” she said. “My self-assuredness makes me a better mom and a better wife.”

As with almost everything, there’s never going to be an agreed upon opinion when it comes to cosmetic surgery. While this was just a small slice of America, it gave us some insight into plastic surgery’s acceptance in society today. Many of those we interviewed seemed to be in favor of a person taking whatever steps they feel are necessary to regain confidence on their beauty journey. And whether these journeys lead to a cosmetic procedure or not, RealSelf will always be here to support and educate.


How do you perceive plastic surgery? What would you say to someone whose opinion was less-than-positive?