Given the popularity of cosmetic makeover television programs that have aired in recent years, including Extreme Makeover, I Want a Famous Face, Dr. 90210, researchers set out to examine the influence of media messages about cosmetic surgery on teenagers’ interest in changing their own physical appearance with surgery. Charlotte Markey, of Rutgers–Camden, and with Patrick Markey, of Villanova University, completed two studies on the topic and published their results in Body Image journal.
Study 1 – Impressions of cosmetic surgery shows
The first study surveyed 170 teens (average age 19.77, 59% female) on “their impression of reality television shows featuring cosmetic surgery, appearance satisfaction, self-esteem, and their interest in cosmetic surgery,” according to the article’s abstract.
The researchers found that those who had favorable impressions of cosmetic surgery reality television shows were more likely to have an interest in pursuing cosmetic surgery.
Study 2 – Reactions to watching cosmetic surgery shows
The second study divided 189 participants (average age 19.84, 51% female) into two groups; one group watched a program with a cosmetic surgery makeover and the other group watched one with a neutral message.
As Dr. Charlotte Markey suspected, women were more likely to want cosmetic surgery than men, and those who viewed the cosmetic surgery show were more inclined to consider the procedure for themselves than those who watched the neutral message program.
Markey noted that many people equate changing their appearance with being happier, even though she says there is no evidence to prove this theory.
The abstract of the article “A correlational and experimental examination of reality television viewing and interest in cosmetic surgery” is online at Science Direct,