This philosophy has serious drawbacks. In a public health system that is strapped for resources, it is certainly arguable that this is the wrong kind of spending. Everyday differences in bodies end up being pathologized by the medical establishment, defining attractiveness in a restrictive way. Small breasts, for example, could be diagnosed as “hypotrophy of the mammary glands”. Finally, as plastic surgeons gain practice in government hospitals, poor patients are essentially guinea pigs, Jarrín says.

However, for all its failings, what Brazil’s politics is creating is an acceptance that beauty is a form of self-care and that there is nothing embarrassing about wanting to meet society’s standard of how we should look, no matter our social class. There is no denying that small changes we can make to our surfaces have a profound influence on our quality of life and that beauty is often a means of gaining power.

When I returned to Virginia after my daughter’s accident, I kept wondering what her treatment would have been like if it had happened here. Most countries’ health coverage only applies to reconstructive care, not aesthetic. Brazil, extraordinary, sees more continuity between the two, “probably a means to push their own agenda, but that they also have a point,” says Alexander Edmonds, the author of “Pretty Modern: Beauty, Sex, and Plastic Surgery in.” Brazil.”

Our system in the United States makes the kind of hospital treatment my daughter received a matter of privilege. Although her procedure could be considered reconstructive rather than cosmetic, whether she has a chance to see a plastic surgeon would depend on where she is being treated. For example, hospitals visited by patients on Medicaid are less likely to provide the choice of a plastic surgeon, and Medicaid does not cover cosmetic surgery unless the procedure is medically necessary – which, in my daughter’s case, it was not.

Beauty standards continue to rise, yet access to cosmetic care is rare.

When I went to my daughter’s pediatrician’s office to get the stitches out, the nurse was hesitant at first. She had never seen stitches like hers, with the thread visible only at its entry and exit points. She brought in two doctors just to make sure she was doing it right. Neither of them knew for sure, but when pulled from one end, the thread came out easily. I asked about what the care should be going forward to minimize scarring. Sunscreen, they all said.

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