Question: Is the fact that Salt Lake City has many plastic surgeons indicative of Mormon vanity and concern with appearance?

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Question: Is the fact that Salt Lake City has many plastic surgeons indicative of Mormon vanity and concern with appearance?

Obtaining plastic surgery can be done for both good and bad reasons. It is an oversimplification to associate plastic surgery with vanity

Why does Salt Lake City have so many plastic surgeons? While New York City has 4 plastic surgeons per 100,000 people, Salt Lake City has 6 plastic surgeons per 100,000 people.[1] It is claimed that these statistics imply that Mormon's have a vanity problem.

Obtaining plastic surgery can be done for both good and bad reasons. It is an oversimplification to associate plastic surgery with vanity.

Reasons for the large number of plastic surgeons

Forbes, the publisher of the article entitled "America's Vainest Cities", explained one reason why some cities have such a high number of plastic surgeons:

"Unexpected entries like Salt Lake City, Nashville and Louisville might rise to the top, given smaller populations and medical or university programs and centers that focus on plastic surgery. An influx of younger, more affluent residents into the smaller cities may also account for the rising number of plastic surgeons."[2]

The University of Utah has a very successful medical program, which may contribute to the large number of plastic surgeons in SLC.[3]

It is also interesting to note that plastic surgery costs a lot less in Utah than it does in the surrounding states. It's possible that the prices have been driven down due to a lack of business in the state.

Statistical claims regarding Utah cannot necessarily be applied to Mormons in general. Utah is only a little over 60% Mormon

It needs to be pointed out that there is no official LDS stance on plastic surgery. Ultimately, this is a decision that is left up to the individual.

Statistical claims regarding Utah cannot necessarily be applied to Mormons in general. Utah is only a little over 60% Mormon.[4]

Merriam-Webster defines vanity as "The quality of people who have too much pride in their own appearance, abilities, achievements, etc."[5] If plastic surgery is used for prideful reasons, or for the purpose of elevating oneself above others, than this is a vain use of the surgery. On the flip side, plastic surgery could be a legitimate way of taking care of ones body.

A KSL article that interviewed Dr. Brian Brzowski, a non-LDS plastic surgeon that practices in Ogden, Utah, provides some interesting insight into Mormon culture and plastic surgery:

“The people here aren’t doing it for vanity; they’re doing it in their minds to restore things, almost to the extent that it’s kind of a type of reconstructive procedure,” Brzowski said.

Brzowski noted that the “strong community that’s definitely a hallmark of Utah, the (LDS) Church, plays a role” in the numbers of procedures being done here. “Patients who have a positive experience with plastic surgery, with such a good community, they share and spread that information. You learn from your neighbor, 'Oh, my gosh, this problem I had was taken care of; it works.' The word spreads faster than a lot of other spots.”

“I think it fits in with the (culture’s idea of) taking care of yourself,” Brzowski said. “That to me is absolutely the answer and the explanation for why such a devout group of people here are so accepting of plastic surgery. They’re doing it for appropriate reasons, not for some vulgar type of motivation.[6]"'

Of course, even getting plastic surgery for the reasons that Dr. Brzowski points out can be taken to the extreme. Individuals should exercise wisdom and self-control when considering plastic surgery.


Notes

  1. http://www.forbes.com/2007/11/29/plastic-health-surgery-forbeslife-cx_rr_1129health.html
  2. http://www.forbes.com/2007/11/29/plastic-health-surgery-forbeslife-cx_rr_1129health.html
  3. http://www.ksl.com/?sid=17790344
  4. http://www.sltrib.com/53909710-200/population-lds-county-utah.html
  5. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vanity
  6. http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=148&sid=16938771


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