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A few weeks back online gossips was hyping groundless speculation that country music superstar Carrie Underwood had faked a wrist accident in order to divert attention from a plastic surgery. The wrist injury, which Ms. Underwood described as “gruesome” and which she says required some forty to fifty stitches, generated enough nastiness to trouble the singer’s mother, Ms. Underwood told reporters. The speculation finally ended when the singer released x-rays of the injury. It’s all a typical example of the all-too familiar mean-spirited online speculation that treats plastic surgery as somehow shameful.

Of course, if the singer had decided to get plastic surgery, it really wasn’t anybody else’s business. The good news is that, slowly but surely, plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures are becoming more generally accepted as a means of allowing people to improve their appearance and feel more comfortable and self-confident. At the same time, however, many people act as if obtaining a procedure is some kind of a betrayal of a person’s individuality. Hardly anyone criticizes people who wear elaborate hairstyles or pay close attention to their choice of clothing, but somehow people improving their appearance with liposuction, body contouring, or even a rhinoplasty (aka nose job) is still seen by a few as morally questionable.

Part of the issue is that online commenters in particular tend to stereotype people who receive plastic surgeries as motivated only by vanity. The reality is that many patients are career people of all genders struggling to stay relevant in youth-oriented business through facial rejuvenation; others are women who obtain breast reductions to deal with physical issues and/or unwanted attention related to having unusually large breasts. Indeed, while some procedures may be obtained mostly by very good looking people seeking to fix particular perceived flaws in their appearance in order become even more impressive, procedures like breast reductions for women, but also for men, are simply an effort to avoid getting too much of the wrong kind of attention. These people are not helped by online commenters who seem to relish making hurtful, faux-moralistic comments.

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