No matter whether you are a man or a woman, the choice of plastic surgery or choosing to age gracefully has long been a fascinating topic of debate, especially when it comes to people in the media and celebrities. Famous people like Melanie Griffith, Mickey Rourke, Linda Evangelista, Renée Zellweger and Gwen Stefani have all been noticed or criticised for whether they have had cosmetic surgery or not. It is easy for these people to become an example of society's criticism because they are seen on a regular basis in magazines or on TV. Many people on social media have something to say about it.
Queen of Pop Madonna is the latest celebrity to be the target of such controversy. It's only been mere weeks since the 2023 Grammys were held but somehow Madonna's face has been the highlight of the whole event, or at least on social media. However, the singer isn't keen on attacks on her looks and now she's making a stand to fight back, but it seems the situation might have gone overboard.
The 64-year-old appeared at the recent Grammy event to introduce Kim Petrus and Sam Smith's performance of Unholy, an experience she called "an honour". She said: "It's important that I present the first trans woman performing at the Grammys. Instead of focusing on what I said in my speech, which was about giving thanks to the fearlessness of artists like Sam and Kim -- many people chose only to talk about closeup photos, taken with a long lens camera by a press photographer that would distort anyone's face."
The next day, Madonna's Instagram page was flooded with comments calling her unrecognisable and scary, and denouncing her supposed "obsession with plastic surgery" -- though the singer has never publicly addressed rumours of cosmetic enhancements. Instead, she didn't take too kindly to the negative comments and soon snapped back at people who criticised her.
"I'm caught in the glare of ageism and misogyny that permeates the world. We live in a world that refuses to celebrate women past the age of 45 and feels the need to punish her if she continues to be strong-willed, hardworking and adventurous." She continued: "I have been degraded by the media since the beginning of my career but I understand that this is all a test and I am happy to do the trailblazing so that all the women behind me can have an easier time in the years to come."
However, numerous fans shared mixed reactions to Madonna's statement. Some followers commented on her Instagram post, saying: "Female celebrities over 45 who are undergoing cosmetic surgery to lift, tighten, pull, cut, inject and plump their face with the age-defying motivation of appearing younger. It really doesn't help push boundaries or oppose patriarchy."
Another said that the singer's obsession with cosmetic surgeries is hurting her own feminist causes. "Aren't you giving in to ageism and misogyny by trying to look like what ageists and misogynists think you should look like at your age?"
Of course, the media and some fans can be harsh and critical, and some may argue that at the end of the day, plastic surgery is a personal choice and one can do whatever they like to their face if it's going to give them more confidence and self-esteem.
My point is the fact that Madonna said she's happy to do the trailblazing so that all the women behind her can have an easier time in the years to come. I think that doesn't make it easier for younger women or men. Because that's telling you what it takes to be enough, to be relevant, to be important to work. You're actually becoming a victim of what permeates our society.
There are a lot of opinions on plastic surgery and if it impacts our society in a good or bad way. And there's no wrong answer here. It all depends on the person and their personal experience. I guess it's not a bad thing that people have a love for themselves and want to be more beautiful. However, to love yourself in the long term with plastic surgery, well that's where it gets sketchy because it has become some sort of obsession and it is very easy to go overboard. We don't really know the effects it has on your health in the long run. Be sure to love yourself the right way.
Tatat Bunnag is a feature writer for the Bangkok Post's Life section.