The terms “plastic surgery” and “self-esteem” have gone hand-in-hand for years in our societal discourse about altering the body through means of surgery. Typically, plastic surgery seems to be labeled as something that will boost self-esteem and make someone more comfortable with their appearance. This is assuming that the patient needs to have their self-esteem raised: if the person had high self esteem to begin with, would they need the surgery? Or would they be fine with themselves as it is?
A former Swan contestant, Lorrie Arias, had a compelling story: after losing 150 pounds and then grieving the death of her husband and left to raise to raise the children on her own, she felt insecure about the extra skin she had following her weight loss.
A Huffington Post article details the procedures that Arias underwent, even though all she had wanted originally was a tummy tuck:
“Once Arias got to the set of “The Swan,” doctors and producers set up a much more intensive transformation than she had expected. Over two and a half months of filming, she had a tummy tuck, buttock lift, inner thigh lift, dual facelift, upper lip lift, upper and lower eye lift, endoscopic brow lift, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation and breast lift — the most procedures of any contestant on the show.”
Following her extreme transformation, and unfortunately still true now, Arias suffers from depression, bipolar disorder, agoraphobia, and body dismorphic disorder.
Why? One would think that with such an extreme makeover (she does look great afterwards, in my opinion) she would be more content with what she looks like and who she is. However, that is the problem. She doesn’t know who she is anymore. The revealing is a surprise for the contestants as well – they can’t see what they look like until the big reveal to everyone else. For two and a half months, Arias did not know what she looked like. It was clearly jarring to not recognize the woman in the mirror:
“I was screaming for the executive producer,” she said. “I was screaming, ‘I want my face back!’ That’s how freaked out I was. Intelligently, I knew that was impossible. But it was so weird. It was like looking at somebody else, but it was you.”
Watch Lorrie’s Swan Excerpt here (another tv makeover video used as a promotional tool for her surgeon): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ai36FX-4Wa0
Though she did feel a bout of confidence shortly after the transformation, her old insecurities came back, but they were even worse this time. She wished there was some sort of coping or psychological help after undergoing such a dramatic change. Clearly, the change did not help Arias’ self-esteem, it seemed to only worsen it in the long run. She states herself that getting plastic surgery done will not fix low esteem and insecurities in all cases.
“I thought a tummy tuck would give me all the self-esteem in the world. Of course, it didn’t. All I want now is for my story to help others, so they won’t think that going under the knife is a cure-all,” she said. “For a while it may be, but everything still comes back up.”
Read her full story here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/27/extreme-plastic-surgery_n_6036110.html