No matter where you live, chances are you’ve experienced a challenging time or two in your life. But what sets us apart from each other is how we cope with those challenges. For the people of Greece, a surprising trend has emerged from the economic depression that has devastated the country. Dubbed the "lipstick effect," a record number of Greeks are turning to plastic surgery to help perk them up in this time of crisis, and it’s left a lot of people scratching their heads.
"Plastic surgery, or more specifically cosmetic injectables, make sense as a quick pick-me-up if you’re feeling down," says Henderson, Nevada, plastic surgeon Dr. Ryan Mitchell. "But what’s so unique about this situation is that these are people who are in an economic depression. They aren’t rich - in fact, many of them are suffering financially. But they’re still making room in their budget for cosmetic work."
Cosmetic procedures have become so popular in Greece, a record 220,000 procedures were conducted in 2016 - up from 61,000 just six years before. So, why cosmetic procedures, instead of a new pair of shoes or a deposit to their savings account?
"I think it's because when you look better, you feel better," Mitchell says. "When you are depressed, when your country is depressed, if you can look at yourself in the mirror and like what you see, it makes life seem a little easier, a little less overwhelming."
For critics who say this type of luxury is irresponsible, especially for workers who have been forced to survive on reduced hours or take jobs they are well overqualified for, Mitchell says it's all about personal happiness.
"We can learn a lot from a society that places such a high value on self-care," he says. "Things don’t usually bring you happiness, and socking away the little money you have in a savings account probably won’t bring you much happiness. But if you can do something that makes you feel good about yourself, to give yourself a boost of confidence, everyone can benefit from that."