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How the Aesthetics Industry Is More than Skin Deep

The aesthetics industry gets a fair amount of flack for playing its part in promoting unrealistic body images and even creating issues for women that weren’t previously there. A few years ago, a well-known tabloid ran a feature about “Toebeisity” and how women were undergoing liposuction - or even resorting to surgery - on their trotters so they can wear slimmer looking shoes. We recoil in horror when we read about the ancient Chinese trend of foot binding but the minute a celeb gets papped and shamed for having “AWFUL FEET” we’re tripping over ourselves to lop those pesky, essential digits off.

However, the tide is turning and women - and men - are demanding a new approach from the industry. We don’t want our self-esteem wrecked because we don’t fit a made-up, unrealistic image of “perfection”. We want to celebrate our bodies and we expect the beauty industry to celebrate them too – regardless of our shape and size. And if we do choose to treat ourselves to a facial or fillers then it will be on our terms and not because we have been made to feel ashamed of our natural beauty.

While giants such as Dove, and Boots are fully on board with this shift in attitude - their latest ad campaigns stick a creative middle finger up to “perfection” – there are still some unscrupulous rotters out there who will exploit any insecurity you have and then kick you while you’re down by rinsing your bank account. Before choosing any kind of non-surgical treatments you should consider both the physical and mental reasons behind having the treatment and be honest about what you think the outcome will be. Glowing skin and a fuller lip may make you feel pretty for a day or two, but it is not a long-term answer to low self-esteem.

Aesthetic treatments and mental health

Here are a few things to think about before booking an aesthetic treatment.

Are you masking?

What we mean by this is that while practitioners can administer fillers or Botox to change your look in the short term, they cannot change how you feel inside long term. You can outwardly mask how you look by changing your appearance but if you suffer from low self-esteem then your best bet is to address these feelings first. NHS Moodzone has loads of free advice and tools, including a library of recommended apps, on how to recognise the signs of low self-esteem and how to combat it.

Are you in control of your decisions?

Sometimes low self-esteem can lead to a more serious mental health condition called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). Those who suffer from BDD are more likely to make rash or ill-informed choices about invasive beauty treatments and in some cases become addicted to unnecessary cosmetic surgery. BDD is not a sign of vanity – it’s a serious mental health condition which can severely impact on a person’s life. If you recognise the following symptoms in yourself – or a friend – then the advice is to seek support from a GP before making any decisions regarding surgical and non-surgical treatments.

According to the NHS you might have BDD if you:

  • worry a lot about a specific area of your body (particularly your face)
  • spend a lot of time comparing your looks with other people's
  • look at yourself in mirrors a lot or avoid mirrors altogether
  • go to a lot of effort to conceal flaws – for example, by spending a long time combing your hair, applying make-up or choosing clothes
  • pick at your skin to make it "smooth”

Be realistic & listen to your cosmetic practitioner

A responsible practitioner will manage your expectations and tell you when to stop. Research your practitioner first and don’t be offended if they tell you in that initial consultation that maybe upgrading your skin care routine would work out better for you than Botox. Listen to them if they tell you that, yes, they can inject fillers but actually that might not be a good look for you. These people are running a business so, if they are telling you not to pay for unnecessary treatments, heed their advice. This is a responsible approach and should be applauded.

If in doubt, take some time out

Take your time, do your research and go with your instincts. Just because you have a consultation with a practitioner doesn’t mean you have to rush into any decisions. If you aren’t sure about what you want, or you’re unsure about the practitioner, then put the decision on the back burner for a bit. Nobody should coerce you into having treatments that you aren’t 100% sure about. It’s your body and your choice. A reputable practitioner will endorse this ethos and fully support you in making an informed decision.

On Glowday, you'll find a whole host of medically qualified practitioners so you'll know you are in safe hands when you book an appointment.

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