Vloggers are sharing their stories with millions of viewers. This is what I learned from watching them.
I’ve always been intrigued by those who have undergone plastic surgery and are open and even enthusiastic to discuss the procedure with people they scarcely know. My interest may stem from a small but impactful incident that occurred when I was 16 years old.
A family friend, Donna, who was about 40 at the time confided in me that she’d had “her boobs done.” I had never met a woman so forthcoming about her breasts – done or not. All my conversations about breasts up until that point had been between me and my best girlfriends, conversations that, occurring in the throes of puberty, usually took place topless in an unsparingly fluorescent bathroom before a full-length door mirror. Usually we just reassured one another that nature was doing its job correctly. Those boobs were a’blossomin’!
Donna and I were hanging out in the living room alone waiting for my parents to come home, and her sudden candor caught me off guard, especially since I didn’t know her well. My eyes fell right to her chest, which was concealed and protruding in a button-up leopard blouse.
“Here, I’ll show you,” Donna said, and snap, snap, snap, off went the blouse buttons. She slithered out of her top and bra and displayed her breasts, which were exceedingly large against her long, lanky frame. She invited me to touch them but I declined, still a bit weirded out by this sudden turn of events. Sitting on the couch topless, Donna told me how she’d always hated her flat chest – was really, truly disgusted by it – how she’d resembled a boy, how there was nothing but droopy nipples there. Nothing even for a bra to contain.
“I’m just so much happier now,” she’d said. “So much more confident.”
This was over a decade ago and since then I’ve met many more women who have had breast implants, along with people who’ve had other types of plastic surgery. As a living, breathing member of social media, I’ve also taken in a lot of information about celebs who have had plastic surgery – or have they?! That always seems to be the titillating question. Unless of course you’re watching a YouTube testimonial. In that case you can learn quite a bit about plastic surgery directly from the people who underwent it.
Famous on Youtube
Recently I watched a batch of YouTube plastic surgery testimonials by popular YouTube vloggers. They all shared candid details about the work they’ve had done, discussing their reasons for going under the knife and explaining what the surgery entailed from start to finish. Here are three that stood out.
Social media sensation Dulce Candy has 1 million Instagram followers, 2 million YouTube subscribers and close to 250,000 Twitter followers. In this video she gives her reasons for undergoing rhinoplasty and a breast enhancement operation.
Cosmetics entrepreneur Julie G’s tutorials and product reviews have been seen over 125 million times. Here she describes the “very gruesome” physical aspects of her rhinoplasty recovery and touches on the topic of post-surgery depression.
Writer and model Travis Bryant gives a humorous description of his rhinoplasty recovery, and ends with these words of advice: “For me, getting plastic surgery was a really positive experience (…). It fixed a problem that I was unhappy with for most of my life. I’m totally pro-surgery if you think it’s something that’s right for you”.
While Bryant is on the more comedic side and as such is less candid, Dulce Candy and Julie G. get deep into the nitty gritty physical and emotional healing process. It’s clear that they’re not just sharing for the sake of sharing or for entertainment value, but to help prepare any viewers who are considering these procedures. Theirs is a breed of honesty that I hadn’t heard before when talking about plastic surgery. It’s compassionate, empathetic, and confident – while also being vulnerable. Though I have never seriously considered plastic surgery myself, I can see how these videos could be valuable to someone who is looking into it and needs a bit of personal insight.
Julie G. underwent rhinoplasty because she thought that if the “really, long pointy tip” of her nose was lifted a bit it would better balance out her face. “I liked the way that I looked before,” she tells the camera. “It’s just that I felt I could look a little bit better…”. Until watching these testimonials, I’d always mistakenly thought of cosmetic plastic surgery as a radical overhaul, just as Donna presented it when she burst open her blouse to show me her newly acquired double Ds: it seemed like an action to be taken when you were desperately unhappy with the state of a physical feature, to make it, in a sense, the opposite of what it was. It also seemed eccentric and available only to the absurdly wealthy.
“Years ago plastic surgery was only for very wealthy people,” says Dr. Valerie Ablaza, a plastic surgeon based in Montclair, New Jersey. “It’s become much more mainstream and no longer something that belongs to a fringe community. Hollywood stars are coming forward with work they’ve done and people are realizing that there are things they can do to help themselves look better. Nowadays you can’t find a woman who doesn’t know someone who has had ‘something done,’ but twenty years ago you could.”
Dr. Linda Girgis, a family doctor in a private practice in South River, NJ who also does aesthetic work, agrees that the public perception of plastic surgery has evolved in recent years:
“I think it’s becoming more acceptable and not so looked down upon as it was in the past. Much of this is due to that fact that more people are doing it and it’s not just for the superstars. And many people are not just doing it to look better but to feel better”.
By creating a positive discussion around it, these vloggers are playing an interesting role in increasing the public’s acceptance and understanding of plastic surgery, just as they’re providing a kind of light resource for people in their early phases of research on the topic. But what they must not be mistaken for are plastic surgery experts, or as the average type of person who has undergone plastic surgery. The only experts out there are doctors, and there is no such thing as the average person here.
“I have many patients who come in for a tummy tuck consultation and they’ll say, “I had a friend who told me it took 6 weeks to move around,’ or ‘my friend told me it would take me 2 weeks to heal,’” says Dr. Ablaza. “But it’s different for everyone and you can’t go by someone else’s experience.”
And yet, for plastic surgery non-experts, these vloggers are pretty well-informed.
“What stood out to me is that those speaking on the videos knew exactly what they wanted done and all seem very knowledgeable on the subject,” says Dr. Girgis. Dulce Candy, Julie G. and Travis emphasize that anyone watching the video as research for their own forthcoming plastic surgery must conduct extensive research well beyond YouTube, and ultimately sit down with a doctor to discuss.
Still, I imagine that if I were considering plastic surgery I would find it helpful to hear their stories, not only because of the critical details they share, but because they’re confident enough to share in the first place.