Why Gen Z are dominating the aesthetic and plastic surgery market
New statistics from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery show that Gen Z or Zoomers are quickly becoming the biggest consumers of cosmetic treatments or tweakments with 75% of facial plastic surgeons reporting a spike in demand from clients under 30. This sparked a debate between Dr Tim Pearce and his content producer Layla.
In this blog, we take some key points from their podcast. Dr Tim discusses attitudes towards aesthetic treatments and plastic surgery and how they are changing in different age groups, plus the reasons why Generation Z feels the need to get treatments at such a young age.
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Why are my social media feeds filled with young girls showing off getting lip fillers and Botox treatments?
Layla was concerned that the glorification of such aesthetic treatments by young women is not really ‘normal’ and would not have happened in preceding decades.
However, Dr Tim explained that the biggest difference nowadays is the affordability and access to aesthetic procedures which has opened them up to a younger market – they are no longer simply a luxury for the wealthy and powerful of Hollywood.
Similarly, younger people are not defensive (about having treatment). Unlike the older generation, they tend to be on the offensive. Their attitude is aligned with,
“I have the money; I have the power; I am having the procedure and I’m becoming more beautiful; do not get in my way!”
Conversely, older attitudes are more akin to,
“I am getting older; I am falling apart; I am trying to keep it together and maintain my looks for a little bit longer” – in other words defending their choices.
To the young, aesthetic treatments mean something different and have become a status symbol – the new Gucci handbag accessory – and a statement of money and power, to the point where obviously looking treated, or even over treated, can become a desirable goal as a means of showing off this status. This can be argued as the Kardashian effect.
What impact do social media influencers have on Gen Z and the decision to have aesthetic treatments?
Dr Tim highlighted that there is an element of buying a story with whatever you purchase in life, and aesthetic treatments are no different.
If you are a follower of one of the Kardashians, for example, they represent a lot of things that a lot of people would like to have or be. Therefore, if you can take some part of their story and replicate yourself, you might feel like you are somehow a minor version of the Kardashians. It does not matter whether you get the same result because you can feel like you are living some aspect of their life, and this probably plays out in the decision making.
Of course, it is very easy to be judgmental and say that a person who thinks like this is being tricked or fooled, however, if it alters how they feel, such as becoming more confident, because they have undergone the same treatment as their idol, then it will have a positive effect on them as an individual. If they come out of their shell and participate in more things than before because they are choosing to do something exciting, adventurous, or glamorous which makes them behave differently, becoming part of their identity, then there is an argument against condemning it because they are young, beautiful, and do not ‘need’ aesthetic treatment. Objectively, for many in the younger generation, it is not about the physical, it is about playing out a story in the environment they find themselves within that differs from older generations.
What is driving ever younger generations towards aesthetic treatments?
Layla pointed out that there are lots of articles in the media about the under 30s, the Gen Zers leaning into Botox and cosmetic injectables or seeking out plastic surgery. What is driving this younger cohort?
Those of us alive today, are the generations that have seen the most of ourselves, noted Dr Tim. A few hundred years ago, you would not even have found a mirror to gaze into, then along came digital cameras and smart phones that allowed people to take pictures and the ‘selfie’ was born. The last few years have seen the rise of Facetime, and over the pandemic came Zoom and other video conferencing platforms where you constantly stare at yourself on screen for work and social reasons.
Unlike a mirror where you can compose your view, using Zoom video conferencing wakes you up to reality as you watch yourself speaking and see your face from different angles, seeing yourself as others see you when you converse in everyday life. If you are concerned about a bump on your nose, for example, then it is confronting you in every Zoom meeting you have, every day. Things never used to be like that, we were not constantly seeing ourselves, and you could forget about any perceived imperfections, and get on with your day.
Do cruel comments and social media trolling push people towards aesthetic treatments?
When someone paid you a compliment twenty years ago, it was only ever done over the telephone or face-to-face. These days, noted Layla, it is easy to watch as celebrities and influencers receive compliments in the comments on their social media feeds for all sorts of reasons and from all sorts of people. This can breed a desire amongst followers to also receive compliments, perhaps by ‘doing what they did or looking how they look’, even if everyone is looking at a filtered illusion rather than reality. But similarly, comments are not always complimentary and can become cruel, with trolling, shaming, and bullying more commonplace online.
Layla highlighted the case of an American online influencer called Eli Rallo who experienced trolling in the comments on her TikTok videos for having a gummy smile. She went on to have a lip flip treatment. The question this poses is would she have sought a lip flip if she was not an influencer, and did the trolling drive her to get treatment?
Dr Tim believed that it is likely that she would not otherwise have got treatment, however, he concluded that it is not an ethical issue because as a cosmetic doctor you are trying to empower people in their context and remove distracting issues.
Instinctively, we understand that the face is for communication, thus, if you have something on your face that occupies someone’s brain and their thoughts, as opposed to what you are trying to say to them, then you lose the interaction. Instinct tells us to try to get those distractions, those barriers out the way so we can connect better with people.
There are two reasons why people might say mean things or comment negatively on the Internet: one is because they are looking for status and power themselves and currently have none, and the other is almost blurting out about something they are noticing that is a genuine distraction (from what the person is saying to them).
Of course, it is not socially acceptable to go online and say mean things to people, and most people would not do this in an era of #bekind messaging and high-profile cases related to the psychological distress caused by online bullying and trolling. Yet, people will notice things about other people ahead of the message they are trying to get across. To create friction-free connections, collaborations, and communication in their context (offline or online), which gives them additional power, people will often try and rid themselves of the distraction using aesthetic treatments, and it can be deemed appropriate to treat.
What do you think? Dr Tim loves to hear from his followers, so why not drop him a (nice!) comment on social media if you have anything to add to the discussion on Gen Z and the things influencing this generation and driving them towards cosmetic treatment; you can find Dr Tim Pearce on Instagram.
Aesthetics Mastery Show
Why Gen Z are dominating the plastic surgery market.
Dr Tim and producer Layla discuss the rise of Gen Z clients in aesthetics, quickly becoming the biggest consumer of cosmetic treatments in the popular Aesthetics Mastery Show. They discuss the reasons why this generation feels the need to get treatments at such a young age.
There have already been a few comments left on the video, including:
Tiffany Frithiof said:
“Regardless it’s no one’s business what someone does. If someone wants to fight age like me then don’t tell me I should love myself. I love myself I just want to not look my age. There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s nothing wrong with people not wanting any of this too”
Susan Hammond commented:
“Healthy skin care should be started at a young age but using artificial toxins and fillers starting In your early 20s to 30s doesn’t make prudent sense to me. As an NP who worked aesthetics (briefly). I cannot believe the artificial focus these young women are placing in themselves. How will they ever be able to embrace aging when they are in their 60s, 70s and 80s? Not the least is consideration of the expense.”
Read more and join the debate on Dr Tim Pearce’s YouTube Channel.
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