Extreme Makeover


There are many moral and ethical concepts to work around when it comes to the topic of face-lift surgery and plastic surgery in general. I think that every situation should be judged on a case by case basis. For example, I think that accidents leaving individuals with a lower idea of self image, females who underwent mastectomies, and even individuals who feel that they were ‘born in the wrong body’, should be educated about resources available and their options. However, many people look at plastic surgery as a way to ‘improve themselves’. Some people will stop at nothing, even risking their own health, to fulfill what they feel is the idea of ‘beauty’. Some of the ethical considerations to be taken intoo are:

1. Can this person handle surgery (intubation, anesthetia, recovery period)?

2. Are there any psychiatric issues present that would lead the individual to undergo this surgery?

3. Does this patient have a track record for these types of surgery?

4. What reason does this person have for undergoing this surgery?

5. Is the recovery period worth the end result?

6. Are the risks posed worth the end result?

7. Will be the patient be happy with the end result, even if it is exactly what the surgeon promised?

I believe that excessive plastic surgery is an expression of vanity.  In certain situations, such as motor vehicle accidents in which a person’s face is disfigured, or a mastectomy, plastic surgery would be appropriate to return an individual’s body back to the pre-tragedy state and improve self image. I believe that it is human nature to want to improve ourselves spiritually and morally, not physically. However, with that being said, to improve one self in the physical sense through diet and exercise would be beneficial and have a positive impact on health and wellness, and probably increase the longevity. Also, I must recognize, that if an individual has serious issues with self consciousness, they would not be well in the psychiatric sense, and if plastic surgery would make they feel better- well, then in that sense plastic surgery would improve wellness also.

I do not believe that Extreme Makeover exploits its participants directly. However, I do believe that Extreme Makeover takes what society views as important (beauty, fitness, nice hair, big breasts, etc.), offers to give it to an individual for free, and entices the individuals into a situation that they would not be willing to participate in otherwise. In that sense, I believe the extreme makeover indirectly exploits its participants.

Social ills such as poverty and sickness are definitely a problem worth recognizing. However, I would like to mention that while there are many poverty-stricken individuals that are in a situation beyond their control, many individuals are, for lack of a better word, lazy when it comes to supporting themselves and/or their family. I would also like to point out that over 75% of the healthcare system is driven by illnesses that could be prevented by lifestyle change- i.e. diabetes, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. So I do think that individuals should do their best to donate when they can and help one another. I also think that if an individual would like to spend their money on plastic surgery, that is their business. I do not believe that they should be eligible for loans to pay for these surgeries, and I do not believe that insurance companies, especially government funded insurance companies, should be responsible for the surgery or the complications that arise from plastic surgery.

The following virtues and vices according to Aristotle apply here:


Vulgarity (depending on the type of surgery)



Fear (from previous body image)

Shyness (from previous body image)



According to Aristotle, acts of virtue bring honor and happiness, while vices bring dishonor and unhappiness. Both of which must be voluntary.

We could apply the idea of virtues and vices to Extreme Makeover by explaining that virtues are acts of good, and doing good. Improving body image does not do good for others and therefore is not virtuous. Recognizing that the year is 2013, and not during the time of Aristotle, it is important to mention that people do not to things to benefit other, but simply benefit themselves or their own families. I believe that plastic surgery is selfish, a vice. However, its also good to be selfish sometimes, because being too selfless can be exhausting- after all, happiness is finding balance between those virtues and vices.

I think that Aristotle would believe that Extreme Makeover exploits its individuals because Extreme Makeover clearly benefits from their participation in viewers, popularity, and money. Whether or not the makers of this show had any intention of actually doing ‘good’ for an individual is an interesting thought. They did not have breast augmentations and breast lifts during Aristotle’s time. Perhaps Extreme Makeover is indeed helping people find happiness and feels that they are doing good or the participants. However, is it really ‘good’. In regards one of the previous questions about the less that fortunate, wouldn’t giving our food and money to the hungry and poor be more beneficial to human kind as a whole?  And wouldn’t that be more important and more virtuous?

I do not believe that Aristotle would recognize this particular relationship between wanting to improve ourselves and being happy, because to him happiness was an internal peace, and happiness was found from virtuous acts of doing good for others. I feel that Aristotle would recognize improving our selves in relation to happiness if by ‘improving ourselves’ we mean doing more good for others, being a better person, performing more virtuous acts, etc.

This video about with Ellen not only makes me laugh, which is beautiful, but inspires self confidence. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCMr6BZFHzo

I chose this article because it recognizes the importance of screening for psychiatric issues and states that while most people adjust well after plastic surgery, some people don’t and that can be detrimental to health and wellness.


I chose this article about the real life Barbie- notice how she referres to herself as ‘not human’, a demigod – also disturbing.


Aristotle. (350 B.C.). Nicomachean Ethics. (Book 1).

“Extreme Culture”. Value and Culture. p. 158-159.


3 thoughts on “Extreme Makeover

  1. I like how you mention how their are certain situations where plastic surgery should be appropriate. I completely agree with you. I never thought about accidents which cause a person’s face to be disfigured, but I did think about something I have learned in a lot of m classes. Someone with cleft lip or cleft palate might undergo plastic surgery, and for this, I think plastic surgery is appropriate because it is to help them function better in life. Not only with they be able to talk better, but they can eat and breathe. In cases like this where something has put a person in a situation where it is hard for them to function, I think it is ethical to get plastic surgery.

    Do you think plastic surgery is addictive? Sometimes I think if a person has to go through measures this extreme, then they will really do whatever it takes to define their own kind of beautiful. With all of the media which surrounds us, I think it can sometimes be dangerous for a person to get plastic surgery because it can then lead to further changes. I mean, what led this person to go to such extreme measures to be “beautiful?” And, once they see more media are they going to want to keep changing.

    Thinking about it, do you think your definition of beautiful has changed with the media? Just a thought. I think that in some way, although it can be sad, we are all influenced by the media even if we never wanted to be.

    1. Exactly. What does it mean to be beautiful? What waist size is beautiful? What size cup makes you beautiful? We all feed off of what we see getting attention in the media and that is how out opinions are formed. I do think that surgery can be addictive and of course our ideas and opinions are shaped by the media, its all around us- commercials, websites, ads on pandora, etc. Its hard to imagine a life without these influences. More importantly, how do you get away from them and give yourself time to come up with your own ‘beautiful’?

  2. Very nice. It was great to see how you connected the Aristotelian vices to this topics. And yes, happiness that comes from doing good things and virtuous acts can hardly be connected to plastic surgery.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s