The XX Factor

The Situation Effect

Just a year after Spanx unveiled a line for men comes news of a rise in plastic surgery among men between 2009 and 2010. According to stats just released from the American Society for Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), facelifts are up 14 percent, Botox use is up 9 percent, and liposuction is up 7 percent. It’s worth noting that plastic surgery is up across the board in 2010, in every age group and among both men and women.

So what gives? Surely some of this has to do with the improvement in the economy from 2009 to 2010. However I have two more potential explanations for the uptick in male vanity. One is offered up by the press release from the ASPS , and it seems plausible: Baby boomers with disposable income hate the idea of looking old, so they’re investing in some new mugs. A 57-year-old named Joe Marek is quoted as saying, “I didn’t feel that old. I felt young. I was working out. I was pretty active and I wanted to look like I felt inside.”

However, a close look at the stats shows that it’s not just older men who are getting surgically altered-it’s the young ones too. I wonder if the increase in surgery has anything to do with the fact that we’re in the heavily photographed and recorded Facebook age. Young men see the attention paid to the sculpted abs of The Situation on Jersey Shore and they, in turn, want to get that 15 minutes of fame for their sculpted tummies. Or perhaps it’s that they realize that their awkward teenage years are going to be digitized and accessible to the world ( a la Rebecca Black or Zack Freiman ) and want the world to see them in the best possible light.