Beauty market

Botox and fillers market must consider long-term sociological impact on identity and body image, say researchers

write in sociology compassresearchers from the University of Oxford and the University of Leeds in the UK have studied the rise of non-surgical beauty technologies and the implications of these “tweaks” on the sociology of the body, tracing the history of medicalized cosmetic practices and academic discourses on the body.

Botox, fillers, peels and laser treatments

“Science, aesthetics, the body and the concerns they attach to, such as gender, ‘race’, class, age and consumer culture, are key objects of sociological investigation. .”wrote the researchers.

This was even more the case now, they said, with the increased accessibility and affordability of medicalized cosmetic procedures, including non-surgical procedures such as Botox, dermal fillers, peels chemicals and laser treatments that “blurring the line between medical and aesthetic practices”.

“While the scalpel was once the central tool of ‘aesthetic medicine’, the primacy of surgical incisions is increasingly being challenged by lasers, needles and chemicals”,they wrote.

“…This shift in focus from surgical procedures to minimally invasive injections has led to more practitioners joining the potential vendor market and a wider variety of consumers seeking them out. This has been accompanied by panic over the risks to bodies and aesthetic standards should beauty management fall into the wrong hands.

The rise of injectables – “an important paradox”

Researchers said injectable treatments such as botulinum toxin (Botox) and hyaluronic acid fillers were two popular options used to minimize fine lines and wrinkles and add volume to the skin. According to ISAPS data, more than six million Botox procedures took place worldwide in 2020 and four million filler procedures – markets estimated at 3.25 billion euros ($3.2 billion ) and 5.6 billion euros ($5.5 billion), respectively, according to Fortune Business Insights.

“We chose to draw attention to injectables because, in addition to being the fastest growing category of non-surgical cosmetic procedures, they represent a significant paradox. They are both mundane, everyday technologies and places of controversy and conflict between the medical and aesthetic professions.

Their popularity and contestation indicate that injectables represent an important opportunity to revitalize sociological conceptions of desirable, or simply “normal,” bodies and the role of different professions in their production.wrote the researchers.

And because these technologies had gone through such “democratizing effect”,The possibilities of what the procedures could and should create on the human body were equally wide, they said. Today, they said, so much attention had focused on who should perform the procedures that the debate over “why, how and if”people should engage in beauty work had been restricted, as were questions about the “social and symbolic risks of non-participation”.

Future considerations around identities

Looking ahead, the researchers said it would be important for research to be conducted to examine the lasting impact of these procedures on individuals and social groups. It would be particularly important that the transition to “racialized world bodies”​ was considered – given the growing popularity of the “Brazilian Butt Lift” and “Korean Look” eye enlargement procedures, among others.

“How bodies are seen and evaluated depends on technologies of gaze and transformation, and these technologies are still embedded in culture,” the researchers said.

“We suggest that future research explores how new enhancement technologies relate to body reimaginings. Additionally, we encourage examination of the role of different practitioners, acting as guardians of injectables and guardians of beauty, in imagining and forming the (un)acceptable self.

“…We encourage scholars to explore how imaginaries of (un)desirable bodies shape debates about the appropriate use of non-surgical cosmetic procedures, alongside the study of situated intersections of identity that are inscribed on body “the researchers said.

Source: sociological compass
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1111/soc4.13044
Title: “Tweakments: non-surgical beauty technologies and future directions of the sociology of the body”
Authors: A. Dowrick and R. Holliday