Manufacturing Beauty

This article discusses Cindy Jackson and her endeavor for perfection—or is it an obsession? Cindy Jackson has had numerous surgeries and nonsurgical procedures to achieve what she considers a perfect natural beauty. Cindy’s website shows her before pictures and all I saw was another beautiful woman. Still, she saw imperfections and set out to make drastic changes. Cindy feels as though she is an expert on cosmetic surgery now and offers her services to consult with patients on how to achieve perfection. This obsession likely came from her childhood looking at Barbie Dolls. I say this because she shows a short 30 second animated video on her website, on the “My Surgery” tab, that depicts her as a young girl holding a Barbie and then looking sad; she then grows up and gets several surgeries and is, in the end, happy.

Cindy’s social self is the role she plays in her life, mainly as a consultant for cosmetic surgery patients wanting to achieve the same natural look she has been able to achieve. The young Cindy Jackson, from her childhood in the 60s, had low self-esteem comparing herself to her Barbie Doll. This low self-esteem continued throughout her life, resulting in surgery after surgery. Judging by the way she displays her information on her website now, it seems as though she is proud of what she has accomplished and feels beautiful. I would say that her self-esteem has definitely risen, likely, after each surgery. Myers describes self-concept as the answer to “Who am I?” made up of self-schemas and possible selves (2012, p. 39).

A self-schema is something you identify with (strength, beauty, etc.) and a possible self can be either something you dream of or dread (Myers, 2012, p. 39). It appears as though beauty is what is most important to Cindy, so that would be her self-schema. To go hand-in-hand with that, her possible self could be the fear of being unlovable or the dream of being loved or loving passionately (Myers, 2012, p. 39). Cindy’s self-presentation also focuses around her beauty and success, or expertise, with plastic surgery. Self-presentation is similar to impression management, as it is the projection of a desired image to others as well as one’s self (Myers, 2010, p. 73). Below is an image showing several influences that affect personality and self-concept (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The Self

Source: The Self. David Myers. (2010). Social Psychology with Social Sense CDROM and PowerWeb, 10th Edition [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved December 3, 2016 from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/books/0077586794
According to Myers, in Social Psychology with Social Sense, people tend to associate attractiveness with all things good (i.e., happier, more out-going, intelligent, and successful) (Myers, 2010, p. 406). Cindy, obviously, was affected by this stereotype and was one of millions who elected to pay for surgical corrections to achieve a stereotypically beautiful look. A Harvard study to examine the effect of these changes had students rate their impressions of eight different women based on their before and after photos. Myers said, “Not only did they judge the women as more physically attractive after the surgery but also as kinder, more sensitive, more sexually warm and responsive, more likable, and so on” (2010, p. 406). This was Cindy’s goal and it appears as though she’s achieved it, with all the testimonials she has posted on the website. One such testimonial touts, “Farm-girl turned cover-girl. – Wendy Leigh, The Sunday Mirror” (Jackson).

The media has a powerful effect on all of us—whether we would like to admit it or not. Myers said, “People routinely deny being influenced by the media, which, they readily acknowledge, affects others” (2010, p. 47). The media portrays slender, Barbie-like women as the standard for beautiful women. This sets unrealistic and unhealthy self-ideals for young girls and women. Cindy Jackson was affected by this as a small child. She compared herself to her Barbie doll and felt unattractive in comparison. She has since spent thousands on plastic surgery to make her physical appearance fit her ideal beauty. The media also made her aware of botched surgeries and “fake” looking women. So, she spent a lot of time researching cosmetic surgeons and methods, to get the natural look that she has managed to achieve.

Manufacturing beauty is referring to the work being done to alter a person’s physical appearance—surgical and nonsurgical procedures. Cosmetic surgery is becoming more and more accepted and less taboo. For instance, women who used to “sneak” Botox treatments or hair dye applications used to be offended by the accusation. Now, you can hear women talking about needing another treatment and comparing notes on doctors and experiences. Media has set unrealistic standards for both men and women. But also, men put a lot of emphasis on the attraction of women, further stressing the importance of looks on women. Therefore, “Women worry more about their appearance and constitute nearly 90 percent of cosmetic surgery patients” (Myers, 2010, p. 403), hence the prevalence of manufactured beauty.

Cindy Jackson is a prime example of someone who puts too much weight on outward appearances and the opinion of others. She uses so much energy in self-presentation and constantly living up to others’ standards. She also feels the need to constantly combat negative comments and false accusations. Her website is full of disclaimers like these:

PLEASE NOTE: I’ve had fourteen (14) operations since 1987. Some sensationalist media like to claim it was a different, vastly inflated number, sometimes going into the hundreds! However all claims of more than 14 operations (plus numerous nonsurgical procedures) are, like so many things in the media, cynically invented to shock and gain web hits, TV ratings & Google rankings. Nor did I spend anywhere near the preposterous amounts of money some sources “report.” Contrary to these ridiculous claims it’s not necessary to have dozens of operations or spend a fortune to get the very best results. But you DO need the right advice (Jackson).

She also had to defend the “dents” on her cheeks as dimples, to which she said, “In fact they are the ONLY original feature on my face: the dimples I was born with!” (Jackson). I wonder if she has ever felt content and happy with her appearance and with life in general. She is beautiful now, just as she was before the 14 procedures! Share your thoughts below.

 

 

References
Myers, D. (2010). Social Psychology with Social Sense CDROM and PowerWeb, 10th Edition [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved December 3, 2016 from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/books/0077586794
Jackson, C. (2016). Cindy Jackson. Retrieved December 3, 2016 from https://www.cindyjackson.com/my-surgery.html

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