www.cosmeticsupport.com went live online on the 1st January 2000. Twelve years ago, broadband had not yet arrived. Dial up was the only way to get online. Communities cried out to be heard and I set up a way to reach them. It was as essential for me as it was for them. I had no idea what would happen when the site was launched live in 2000 but it was a huge success and the ‘hit’ counter was in the high thousands.
I have been a life long sufferer of dysmorphia. I had just completed a post dip in existential psychotherapy and my (then) husband is a Phd in Psychology. I needed to meet other people who had a passionate interest in the subject of plastic surgery. It would not be healthy to talk about this subject to my partner or family. My ex-partner (a Phd in Psychology) realised this and had the technical ability to create a website for me. The site was launched live online on 1st January 2000 and was there to help me every bit as much as it was there to help anyone who had managed to make their way through the maze of setting up dial up internet. Not easy!
A typical visitor to the site is/was someone who had been fed mis-information and is/was in danger of becoming confused by believing that advertising is information. The risk of confusion from mis-information can be costly both physically as well as emotionally. I wanted to help prevent that wherever possible. I ran the site voluntarily, with no advertising for 12 years. It was and still is my passion. It is an educational tool pointing patients to BAAPS surgeons. The strap line is: Bringing Awareness About Plastic Surgery.
Although its pretty common now, back in 2000, Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms with qualified people hosting them was a unique situation of which I am very proud to have been a co-creator.
When my marriage broke down, I had nobody to do the technical side of the website for me anymore so I paid someone to update it. Unfortunately, this person took my money and took my site offline and lost everything that I had worked so hard to achieve. I suffered a terrible sense of loss as well as feeling I had let all the ‘visitors’ down. The site was offline and I had no money to pay anyone else and no skills to fix the problem. I had been online before Google and the rankings I lost as a result of this ‘robbery’ were priceless. I am not sure if I have recovered from that loss emotionally but we move on. A passion is a passion is a passion.
It took me a further two years to save the money necessary to find the right person to help me re-develop the site to reflect new ways of doing things involving You Tube, Facebook and Twitter as well as adding my own blog: Dysmorphicdiscussions (http://dysmorphicconfessions.blogspot.co.uk) The site, www.cosmeticsupport.com is now back online in a new format and we (the site and I) enter into this competition seeking the recognition we could not have before as my levels of dysmorphia in the past would have not allowed me to enter a competition like this. Dysmorphia is still very misunderstood. My ex-partner and I have written a paper on it which is on the site.
In January of this year, I was called to the Palaces of Westminster to be an expert witness alongside the President of BAAPS and Susie Orbach as well as someone who has been helped via my website. Being recognised for the work I do helps me to move on from a life time of dysmorphic anxiety and if I can help to do the same for others, I am a better person for that. The reality is that plastic surgery is often the only cure even if the ‘ugliness’ is imagined as opposed to medical.
I hope this competition entry reflects the aims and goals of the site as well as the reasons that it came into existence. Unlike other sites, cosmeticsupport is not there to sell plastic surgery but to help educate and inform about the decisions involved in finding a good surgeon. The emotional aspects taking equal stage with the physical aspects.
Right from the start cosmeticsupport.com got thousands of ‘hits’ per day. Those who knew the site from the beginning know that it is one of the original websites offering information and support throughout the plastic surgery decision making process and can testify that we do not sell surgery but support patients making their way through the maze of information to a safer surgery.
Although I paid him, I need to thank Darren for having the patience to help redesign my site. His understanding and patient attention is fantastic.