Heidi Montag of “The Hills” recently underwent 10 plastic surgery procedures in one day. Scheduling the end of her recovery period just in time for promotion of her debut album, “Superficial,” Heidi has truly received an incredible amount of press in the past several weeks. Hearing a reported $30,000 worth of plastic surgery characterized in the media as “wise career move,” one can't help but wonder: Is that really a sound business investment? Are Heidi's tits earning their keep?
With her initial claim to fame rooted in reality TV, Heidi is well aware of her D-list celebrity status. In order to advance her career, she needs press time, and lots of it. Though Heidi may not make the most intelligent decisions when it comes to her personal life, she does seem a knack for media management. Heidi knows that discussion of her own body is a surefire way to get press.
Physical perfection is an illusion most celebrities work very hard to keep. As stars smile coyly from the covers of tabloids, many gallons of ink are wasted weekly in the analysis of their every pore. Did she or didn't she? While many are reluctant to admit that their assets are artificial, Heidi, at least, is honest. She tells it straight as the nose on her pricey new face: I did.
Going big with both her plastic surgery and her announcements of it was an astute move to say the least. While plastic surgery may no longer shock the public, per se, it's a topic certain to titillate. Even as Heidi faces backlash, she's still getting what she needs to build celebrity cred. For now, as long as people are talking about her, it doesn't much matter what they're saying.
Although there's debate over whether the surgery has actually improved her looks, building herself a more beautiful face is also a move likely to bring Heidi benefits in the long run. Even for those of us below the D list, there are some very tangible incentives for looking good. Studies show that attractive people earn more money for the same work, and that they are more likely to receive help when they are in distress. They often receive preferential treatment and are perceived by others as more sociable, dominant, mentally healthy and intelligent than less attractive people. However unfair it may be, doors are opened for beautiful people — both literally and figuratively.
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Americans spent $7.2 billion dollars on surgical cosmetic procedures in 2008. That's 1.7 million procedures, the vast majority of which were had by women. Though extensive plastic surgery is often not a realistic option, most college students are at least intuitively aware of beauty privilege, and participate, on some level, in the pursuit of physical attractiveness. This behavior is driven by the same element that driving people to get plastic surgery: control.
While she does feel better about her post-surgery appearance, it is clear that Heidi is not done with plastic surgery. Motivated “to feel perfect,” Heidi still sees room for improvement. Currently a DDD cup, Heidi has stated that she would now like to get up to an “H, for Heidi.” This is the problem with molding one's flesh after the picture of perfection carried in one's head: that picture is bound to change.
Whatever changes she makes, it is clear that she has an audience. Unfortunately, they are not buying what she's trying hardest to sell: her album. Sales of “Superficial” numbered less than 1000 in its first week. Listening even to the short clips available online, it's no surprise why. Just take a look at the opening lines of the album's single, “I'll Do It”: Pick me, take me off up into ya dungin / I brought some treats, I know that you gon' love 'em / Come eat my panties off of me / Do whatever you feel comes naturally...”
In the end, changing the packaging can only advance Heidi's career so far. Though her cup size may grow beyond a D, her celebrity status will not unless, of course, she also finds a way to grow some talent.