You scroll on TikTok as much as you do — and have been for the past 45 minutes. When you stumbled across Kendall Jenner’s videos, you’ve watched over a dozen makeup tutorials, Love Island recaps, and videos of cats doing cat things.
But this isn’t a Keeping Up with the Kardashians cut, or even Kendall’s model on the runway. Surgeons are analyzing her face. You watch the doctor tell you what surgery she has or has not had. They’ll tell you she has fillers, Botox, and “secret” rhinoplasty (aka rhinoplasty) on her lips.
Click through to the doctor’s page and suddenly you’re in the world of celebrity plastic surgery videos. Over the past few months, a ton of these videos have popped up on my For You page. The #plasticsurgery hashtag had 13.3 billion views, while the #celebrityface hashtag had 1.6 billion views.
When I typed, “Has Kendall Jenner had plastic surgery?” in my search bar, hundreds of videos appeared. Some from beauty professionals, others from regular users, were tearing down her face. It’s no surprise that these videos mainly analyze women. Celebrities like Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Khloe Kardashian and Zendaya are also getting daily facials.
Even teens like Stranger Things’ 18-year-old Millie Bobby Brown are censored on TikTok — though an in-depth blog about her face allows for “the changes people nitpick may just be her growth” and better makeup.
So why are these clips so popular? It could be that celebrities don’t often reveal the work they do – leaving their fans guessing.
Few were surprised when supermodel Bella Hadid, 25, shared that she had a rhinoplasty at the age of 14. We’ve seen the “before and after” photos and know she has the money to pay for the surgery, so people aren’t shocked to hear the confirmation.
Yet guesswork around celebrity faces is often just that: guesswork.
Earlier this year, pop star Doja Cat publicly accused YouTuber Lorry Hillmade of creating a video claiming the singer had nose surgery. Hillmade has had plastic surgery herself and used her page to dissect celebrities’ faces to see if they’ve also gotten the job done.
But Doja Cat wasn’t happy about it, saying on Instagram Live. “I was upset because of the lies about me,” the singer said.
Dr Tunc Tiryaki, a consultant plastic surgeon at the Cadogan Clinic in London, doesn’t think the videos are the source of the problem. Instead, he took aim at those in the public eye who were dishonest about the work they did.
“I would say the problem is more with celebrity liposuction, for example, but claim to get these results through diet,” he said. “Or those celebrities who have had facelifts but say they’ve had facelifts— [which is] Similar to facelift, but less invasive and less expensive. “
By doing so, he said, celebrities were creating a huge false expectation that would allow their followers to compare themselves to someone with greater wealth whose face was the result of surgery worth thousands of pounds — — not more affordable tweaks, good makeup or basic genetics.
“Secondly, these videos undermine the accurate outcome of surgery, especially surgical interventions,” he said. “People came to me expecting huge results because a celebrity lied about the procedure they did.”
That’s dangerous, especially when it comes to fillers and Botox, because there are no age restrictions for these non-surgical procedures and the industry isn’t properly regulated, Dr. Tiryaki said.
“Complication rates for fillers are skyrocketing,” he said. “Part of that is because it’s easy to do, and fillers can be done not just by dermatologists and plastic surgeons, but by anyone.”
Many of these videos were made by my cosmetic surgeon, but even a surgeon can’t tell you whether a celebrity has done the job unless the professionals do it themselves, says Dr. Tiryaki, who cautions against trusting the opinions. “I think it needs to be looked into because it’s hard to fight disinformation,” he said.
While these videos have an audience, people continue to make them. So why does the public love these videos so much?
Many of the comments below this line underscore the relief some people feel when they find out that their favorite celebrity has a little filler. “So I’m not ugly, I’m just poor,” one user wrote. Given the online world and its perfect façade, perhaps these pages do serve their purpose by highlighting why we shouldn’t compare ourselves to celebrities.
Federica Rosso, a clinical psychologist at mental health group Therapethical, believes the content is popular because it can make people feel better about themselves — even if the effect is short-lived.
“People may start to think that perfection itself doesn’t exist. Even when they see themselves in the mirror as ‘imperfect’, they realize that an attractive celebrity does [the same] At some point and had surgery,” she said.
“It creates an escape option for their frightening feelings, in fact, it’s a coping mechanism.”
However, it can also encourage people to do work that may not be in their health or financial best interests. “The problem with these videos is that they reinforce a narrative that we can achieve similar results if we’re willing to risk it ourselves,” Rosso said.
“We may start to wonder if our faces are ugly or unattractive, or if certain parts of our bodies need repair. This can lead us down a dangerous path of physical deformities and eating disorders, both of which lead people to walk on an unhealthy path to self-harm and suicide.”
The videos can also trigger the celebrities they star in, and, whether or not they’ve had any surgery, can make them very self-critical about their appearance.
“Seeing yourself on these types of sites is like a slap in the face,” Rosso said. “They are constantly reminded of their flaws and failures, even if they are not real.”
This is nothing new. Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey, 62, has spoken openly about the rhinoplasty she underwent after the film’s huge success, which not only ruined her career, but became the dominant narrative in her life.
Meanwhile, in 2016, Renee Zellweger published an open letter in The Huffington Post, titled “We Can Do Better,” in response to claims she had undergone eye surgery.
“It’s no secret that women’s worth has historically been measured by their looks,” Zellweger, 52, wrote. “The double standards used to reduce our contributions still exist, and as a result of our daily Negative conversations of consciousness continue as snake entertainment.”
She added: “The resulting message is problematic for younger generations and the impressionable, and will undoubtedly raise countless follow-up questions about conformity, prejudice, equality, self-acceptance, bullying and health.”
So, should we keep clicking on these videos? The answer must lie in honestly telling yourself why you care about them. Yes, they serve as a reminder that the tweaked and filtered faces we see online every day are not real.
But let’s all remember that the people behind them are very.