Rutgers Psychologist Links Reality TV with Teen Cosmetic Surgery Trends

Teenagers are known to be preoccupied with their appearance, and their changing bodies can trigger an obsession with changing the way they look. A recent study by a Rutgers-Camden psychologist that was published in the Body Image academic journal links reality television with an increased demand for teenage cosmetic surgery.

According to Charlotte Markey, an associate professor of psychology at Rutgers-Camden, reports that “When we think of cosmetic surgery, we don’t think of it as a lifetime issue. There is lots of pressure to look a certain way and I don’t blame them for succumbing; we’re all guilty of feeling vulnerable…what troubles me is that there’s no conclusive data that cosmetic surgery even makes people happier, what has been documented is that it makes repeat customers.” (Source:

The psychologists who conducted the study surveyed almost 200 participants on their responses to reality TV shows that involved extreme makeovers, and concluded that women were more likely to want cosmetic surgery than men, and that those who watched the cosmetic surgery show were more comfortable with having the procedure themselves.

The experts also concluded that many young men and women seek out plastic surgery because they are attempting to fix their outward appearance, but this approach can quickly turn into an obsession that makes them feel worse about themselves. They state that there is a strong cultural pressure to not be satisfied with the physical self, and that many teens who are influenced by the media may not have the chance to develop a healthy self-esteem.

The extreme makeover shows also set unrealistic expectations for many people, and these types of media influences don’t necessarily portray real life. The psychologists state that children today need to develop a healthy self-esteem by focusing on more positive messages about their bodies, and their lives.

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