The Psychology of Appearance
"Whether we admit it or not, appearance matters
in our culture," says CHA team member David Sarwer,
society often idealizes attractive people. Research
shows that those who are attractive typically
receive preferential treatment across their life
"That’s why it’s not surprising that the
way we look has a great deal to do with our own
confidence and self-esteem," Sarwer continues. "Our
appearance can shape our self-image and affect
the way we deal with others."
Today's society spends millions of dollars
to improve appearance -- from cosmetics and fashion
to gym memberships. In addition, the societal
and cultural pressures to be young looking, thin
and beautiful have contributed to the current
popularity of cosmetic surgery. "What was
once considered trivial vanity is now seen as
reality for some people: maintaining and improving
appearance and body image is an important part
of our quality of life," says Sarwer.
Center for Human Appearance surgeons and physicians
provide a range of reconstructive surgery. This surgery helps adults
and children whose appearance has been altered
by physical trauma or diseases such as cancer
-- or who have congenital (at birth) deformities.
The Center for Human Appearance also provides
services for individuals who choose aesthetic
cosmetic surgery options.
The difference between cosmetic surgery and
reconstructive surgery is the degree of normalcy
desired, he explained. Cosmetic surgery usually
seeks to enhance a normal appearance.
Reconstructive surgery seeks to return patients
to normalcy as much as possible.
Psychological consults by CHA psychologists
to individuals undergoing cosmetic surgery, reconstructive
surgery, or who have symptoms of an obsession
with appearance called body dysmorphic disorder. For more information, see the topics below: