How It Took Working at RealSelf For Me to Use My Journalism Degree

Elisabeth Kramer, Web Content Writer

Elisabeth Kramer, Web Content Writer

There’s a look people get when I tell them what I do for a living. It’s like they’ve swallowed something sour or bitten into a mushy apple. “Plastic surgery, huh?” they say. “So fake boobs and butts, right?”

Not quite. I keep myself from saying this to the doubters because I used to be like them. Before joining the RealSelf team — and, to be honest, until I’d spent a couple weeks in the office — I thought what many people think about plastic surgery. Fake, weird-looking, and certainly nothing I’d ever do.

Like so much of RealSelf’s work, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Sure, you come to our site and see lots of naked people — typically women — and think, “That’s it. That’s all they do. Hawk plastic surgery.” Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll uncover what RealSelf is really about: Confidence.

That’s confidence about how you look, for sure, but also confidence in the choices you make. Whatever your stand on plastic surgery, I think we can all agree it’s not going away anytime soon; the latest research found 1 in 5 women plan to pursue cosmetic surgery of some form. That’s a lot of mothers, daughters, and sisters, not to mention husbands, sons, and brothers seeking out cosmetic procedures. Don’t they deserve the best information available?

I went to journalism school because I like telling stories. Best of all, I like telling true stories. Since I graduated in 2012, I’ve realized that accomplishing that first goal is easy. The second? Not so much.

Before joining RealSelf, my career required I do things I was either never taught to do in journalism school or, in some cases, explicitly taught not to do. Use Twitter as a source? Sure. Scrap other websites and regurgitate their news? Have at it. Original interviewing? As if. This, I found, was by and large the norm for the realm of journalism I found myself in. That isn’t to say it’s the standard for all media outlets but it was common practice for much of what I did and saw others do.

So who would have thunk it would take joining a plastic surgery-focused website to actually do what I was trained to? In the six months I’ve worked at RealSelf, I’ve interviewed more real-life people (not their Twitter accounts) and written more in-depth stories — stories I pitched, researched, and wrote — than I did during the previous two years combined.

The RealSelf community has shared some of the most inspiring stories of my career. I’ve spoken with a woman whose parents forced her to get a hymenoplasty to “prove” she’s a virgin. I’ve interviewed a doctor who was hit by a semi at 25, had 18 reconstructive facial surgeries, and lived to give others the gift she’d been given. I’ve talked to a man who was born physically female but, thanks to plastic surgery, can now live as he was always meant to — and be a father to boot. When we spoke, he planned to have his eggs extracted and fertilized by donor sperm so his wife could carry their child.

So yeah, I write about plastic surgery. What do you do?

– Elisabeth Kramer, Web Content Writer

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