The price of beauty has always been a steep ticket to pay for some women. From fancy shopping sprees to high-dollar makeovers, going glamorous has always taken a lot of time, money and hard work. But according to statistics, women are no longer settling for just the occasional makeover anymore; they’re now going full steam ahead with various methods of plastic surgery to better their looks and heighten their sex appeal. The biggest trend, however, circles around African-American women, who have seen a 5 percent increase in the number of plastic surgeries since 2008, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

The number of plastic surgeries among African-American women rose from 942,571 in 2008 to 985,907 in 2009, the last available update. So what’s caused the increase? Experts vary in their stances. The ASPS listed the most common procedures during the last two years as breast reduction, liposuction and nose-reshaping, not quite along the lines of the skin lighteners and Botox injections that has exploded among celebrities. According to the ASPS, the most common minimally invasive procedures over the past few years included Botox/Dysport, injectable fillers and chemical peels.

Regardless of the surgery type, one Chicago-based plastic surgeon said plastic surgery procedures are on the rise. “I definitely have ,” says plastic surgeon Julius Few, director of the Few Institute for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. “I’ve seen a number of women of color coming in now understanding that there’s more technology available to meet the unique needs of skins of color. In particular, women of color are trying to do everything they can to look marketable and look their best. I think that assuming the economy stays stable, it’s a trend that will continue.”

Few said he often receives requests from women hoping to emulate the bodies and faces of their A-list celebrity icons. From Gabrielle Union to Janet Jackson, drawing style and motivation from a superstar has always been a fashionable trend. But with more celebrities opting for plastic surgery, it’s a trend some feel could have damaging effects.

“I think that these young women, these superstars, are over sexualized and they promote the idea that as a woman you have to promote your sexuality more than your character,” said Marita Golden, an educator and award-winning novelist who has written several pieces on intra-racial racism and cultural identity.

“I’m really sick of the oversexualization of females in general and I think for young African-American women, it’s especially dangerous because they’re vulnerable in the first place because of self -concepts.”

Golden believes those self-esteem concepts are a contributing factor to the rise in plastic surgery among Black women. “African-American women are still wrestling with generation-old issues around accepting their value and physical beauty in a society that habitually and regularly denigrates our worth and physical beauty no matter what we look like,” said Golden. “Black women in 2011 are still dealing with the same issues that we were dealing with 100 years ago.”

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Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO