Rhinoplasty, nose job, tummy tuck, breast implant, Botox: in terms of how frequently these words and phrases are Googled, the UAE ranks in the top 20 globally for each of them. For the more general term, cosmetic surgery, the UAE ranks third behind the UK and Australia. Appearance enhancement is undoubtedly popular, but what lies behind the boom?
A few decades ago, psychologists coined the term “normative discontent”. This phrase reflected the observation that, in studies of appearance satisfaction, most women reported being dissatisfied. Research undertaken in the UAE echoes this idea, and being unhappy with one’s appearance seems to be the norm too. One study, published in Appetite journal, reported that among 228 Emirati college women, 75 per cent were dissatisfied with their appearance.
Perhaps another factor behind the cosmetic surgery boom is the spread of consumerism and materialistic values – less is definitely not more, and if you can afford a better nose or a flatter stomach, then why wouldn’t you buy them?
The surge in cosmetic surgery might also be discussed with reference to the related ideas of revenge and repair. A few years ago many plastic surgeons noticed – and began reporting – that an increasingly large percentage of their clients were newly divorced women. This gave rise to the concept of “revenge cosmetic surgery”.