Real Beauty

Did you see Dove’s most recent “real beauty” commercial where the sketch artist creates a series of women’s portraits.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, the sketch artist draws a woman’s face based solely on her own description. He has his back to her so he can’t actually see her. He then sketches the same woman once again, only this time she is being described by a stranger whom she just met. The sketch artist does this over and over again until he has a room full of portraits.  Each pair of portraits shows the same women from these two different perspectives.

The commercial was a documentary of sorts based on a study that found only 4% of women consider themselves to be beautiful. Like most of the people who saw this commercial, the women on my staff were amazed to discover that in most cases, it was the stranger’s description that produced the more accurate and more flattering resemblance.  The faces drawn based on self-description seemed to emphasize and exaggerate facial flaws. And while the message seemed to resonate with the women on my staff, I found it interesting that I was the only one who wasn’t at all surprised by the results. Maybe I just took for granted that everyone knows how critical women can be when it comes to their own appearance.  As a board certified plastic surgeon, I hear it all day long.

“My nose is too wide.”

“My lips are too narrow.”

“My face is too round”

“I don’t have any cheekbones.”

It would be so easy to give each of these women exactly what they ask for.  But I don’t.  That would be unethical without first assessing the reason why she is electing cosmetic surgery.  Does she have a healthy self-esteem or does she believe she can only be happy, successful or loved if she looks “perfect?” Jennifer Aniston, Blake Lively, Sarah Jessica Parker and Anne Hathaway seem quite content and are even considered among the most beautiful women despite their “unconventional” noses, offering proof that you don’t have to look perfect to be beautiful.

In my practice, I have found that the best candidates for plastic surgery are those who display self-confidence despite their perceived “flaws.” They often request subtle, natural-looking changes that others might not readily detect.  A slight nip or tuck to restore facial harmony or to look rejuvenated or refreshed.  One of my patients, “JB” summed this up best at her recent post-op appointment when she gushed “I look like myself, but more refined.”  Plastic surgery is a gift my patients give themselves so that their inner beauty and outer appearance are truly in sync.   Every woman should feel beautiful in her own skin.

In the commercial, the message seems to be that beauty is a state of mind.  Some may think that flies in the face of my profession, however, after giving this more thought, I realize that’s the reason I take the time to get to know my patients.  I can do a rhinoplasty, facelift, or eyelid procedure to enhance my patients’ appearance, but I know that true beauty is only realized when it comes from within.


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Please note that unless you are actually my patient, in which case I have seen and evaluated you at JW Plastic Surgery, then I am technically not your doctor. These posts and responses to inquiries are provided for educational and entertainment purposes but cannot apply to any individual patient who has not been directly evaluated by myself or another Board-certified plastic surgeon.

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