Alicia Douvall: The knife is never a short cut to beauty

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The Independent Online

No one is born hating their body. It is an attitude that develops over time. Cosmetic surgery, with its promise of an otherwise unobtainable beauty, can instead result in an endless battle with your self-image.

When I was 17 I remember seeing adverts in the papers that made a nip and tuck seem as trivial as buying shoes or going to the dentist. There was no mention of its dangers or long-term consequences – just talk about how much better you would look and feel afterwards.

Since then I have had more than 100 operations, costing £1m, and have never arisen feeling better about myself. Instead, I just saw more frailties, which resulted in the need for more surgery, and, eventually, therapy.

Society's attitudes to cosmetic surgery are more cavalier than ever. Prices have dropped. Magazines and television tout the "Hollywood look" as normal, and advertisements for the perfect body are everywhere, from Tube escalators to the back pages of fashion magazines.

But cosmetic surgery rarely gives you the "perfect" result. And why would it? After all, it's done by a surgeon who has a different perception of your body to your own self-image.

Advertising for cosmetic surgery should be banned altogether. It bills the knife as the short cut to beauty and happiness. But the reality is that, with the help of sensible diet and exercise, those qualities can only ever be found within.

Alicia Douvall, a former glamour model, now works as an actress