Lest you think that women are the only people affected by pernicious standards of beauty, the BBC reported that British male breast reduction surgeries increased by 28% last year. The surgery is now the second most popular plastic surgery for men, after nose alterations.
The British plastic surgeons’ organization that reported the statistics said that the dramatic increase in surgeries seemed to be related to men’s increasing anxiety about their torsos, and about the presence of “man boobs.” They explained that about 30% of men who sought the surgery were sent away to improve diet and exercise, and that the men who had the surgery had “stubborn areas” of fat that they were having trouble getting rid of.
It’s clear that men are being more and more influenced by cultural pressures to look a certain way, and this is inspiring them to seek surgical assistance. Cosmetic surgery has significant risks, as a piece I wrote last week about cancer and breast implants illustrated, but people are willing to undergo significant hazards in exchange for a specific body type.
The president-elect of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons blamed the media for men’s insecurities. “Images in the media – coverage of high profile men like Simon Cowell and Jack Nicholson – make men think about this more,” he said. “Just recently a vest was launched for men aimed at enhancing the way their chests look.”
But the cosmetic surgery industry, which thrives off these insecurities, probably isn’t helping either. And prevailing standards of beauty, which don’t accept that men’s torsos are often not completely flat, need to be altered before men, like women, can start to be free from these anxieties.
Photo from Flickr.