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Women's magazines downplay emotional impact of cosmetic plastic surgery

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Women’s magazines portray plastic surgery as physically risky but downplay the emotional health risks, according to a new study.

The Canadian study found that women’s magazines present cosmetic surgery as a normal way to enhance and maintain beauty.

The study examined 35 articles published between 2002 and 2006, in Canada’s top-five women’s magazines, including Cosmopolitan and O: The Oprah Magazine.

The researchers found that the magazines often included detailed information on the physical risks, but only 48 per cent discussed emotional health risks. Only 18 per cent suggested that cosmetic surgery may be detrimental to emotional well-being.

The study found magazines tend to present two ‘profiles’ of women undergoing surgery. An unhappy, lonely woman looking for a self-esteem boost, or a successful, attractive woman wanting to maintain her looks.

Richard Carpiano, co-author of the study, said: ‘These two profiles represent extremes of a wide range of attitudes, for which many women may view themselves as being somewhere in-between.’

‘This potentially allows for cosmetic surgery to be presented as an option for many women regardless of their preoperative emotional state.’

Women’s Health Issues (2008) 18: 463-470

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