What Chrissy Teigen's armpit liposculpture remarks reveal about beauty standards
Chrissy Teigen raised more than a few eyebrows when she confessed to having had liposuction on her armpit. Teigen, who is not just a beloved model, but a bona fide social media presence, made the admission at the launch of her new partnership with makeup brand Becca.
"I had an armpit sucked out, which was one of the best things," Teigen told the audience.
"It's a big secret, but I don't care. It was nine years ago or so. And I had two inches (5cm) to my armpit. Now it's back though, so now I've gotta pay for [liposuction] again."
So, to recap: Chrissy Teigen, stunning model with lean limbs, not only had liposuction once, but she's going to do it again? Oh, she did just have a baby (Luna, 1) with singer John Legend, so she may want a tune-up. Wait. Did I just say "tune-up"? What is wrong with us!
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"It doesn't surprise me at all that models have these procedures done," says Dr Meaghan Heckenberg, a liposculpture surgeon who runs her own practice in Sydney.
(Liposculpture, by the way, is a specialised version of liposuction, where fat is not just sucked, but gently removed, giving the area a smoother appearance, hence the "sculpture".)
"They are human like everyone else. Genetics have a large role in where one carries excess fat and the arms are one of those areas," she says.
It's interesting that Teigen refers to only one armpit. Perhaps they were uneven. We may never uncover this.
Although, the Sports Illustrated model, who is known – and adored – for her own brand of sassy honesty, has still torn down the fourth wall of celebrity upkeep. By admitting to "having something done" she has disobeyed the first commandment of unrelenting celebrity beauty standards. Thou Shalt Not Admit.
On the one hand, it's alarming: even the women who closely adhere to what the popular culture demands of their body – who, in fact, profit from these stringent demands – are dissatisfied with their looks. Teigen is 31 and says she had it nine years ago. So, a 22-year-old model is having this procedure? Really?
But, in a way, it's almost perversely reassuring: it proves that the "perfect" body does not exist in nature. Put simply, only a precious few are born that way.
But this is something we've known for a while: we know photos are air-brushed and we know about injectables. We understand that as standards of beauty narrow to the width of a hair, minor procedures will only increase in popularity.
But the idea of liposuction seems like something only Mamma June gets, and only because she's desperate. Yet, Teigen's admission, one that seemed to tumble out of her mouth, like a verbal shrug, turns that idea on its head. Particularly too, because Teigen, who has more than 5 million followers on Twitter, does not appear to have a problem with self-confidence.
"It was so easy," is how she explained it. "It made me feel better in dresses."
"It may seem inconsequential but in fact, it's very rewarding for both and patient and practitioner," says Heckenberg, who estimates that such a procedure would take about four hours under local anaesthesia. In other words, it's day surgery. The cost? Roughly $7555. (A$7000).
"The armpit area [Teigen is referring to] is the area underneath the arm and also includes the front part, just above the breasts and next to the arm. I call this area and anterior axillary area or 'axillary puffs'. Women [who undergo the procedure] hate having fat here because it pops over the top of strapless dresses or to the side of singlet or sleeveless tops.
"The arm doesn't change shape but … patients feel comfortable revealing their arms and love the new definition. They can finally see their muscles. Before treating them, no amount of weights or arm exercises would allow for fat loss in this area."
It doesn't seem like Teigen would have a problem with "batwings" though. But a quick look over the last decade's overzealous retouching of celebrities and models and a pattern quickly emerges: already svelte limbs get shaved down, often to half of what they were. Who could forget the time in 2014 when Lena Dunham had her entire arm erased from a Vogue photospread? Or more recently, when Kendall Jenner accidentally removed her own arm in an Instagram post.
So perhaps the final word goes to Teigen, who, unlike us mortals, must inhabit this world, and, as Refinery29 put it, doesn't care what we think. "I felt more confident [after liposuction]. It was the dumbest, stupidest thing I've ever done. The dumbest, but I like it, whatever. I have no regrets, honestly."
- Sydney Morning Herald