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Music

The Man Who Received Plastic Surgery to Look Like Justin Bieber Is More Sane Than Justin Bieber

Toby Sheldon spent £60,000 to have Justin Bieber's face and bangs.

The cover of Toby Sheldon's new single, Justified (featuring Adam Barta).

Toby Sheldon spent $100,000 (just over £60,000) on plastic surgery to look like Justin Bieber, but the smart and articulate 33-year-old is, despite what you may have read, not crazy. He's a songwriter on a mission to destroy the stigmas surrounding plastic surgery. Oh. And did I mention he's also not crazy?

Toby's story is the stuff New York Post editors dreams about – a man who, via cosmetic procedures, transformed his appearance to resemble that of his presumed idol Justin Bieber. The thing is, he doesn't idolise Justin. While he doesn't actively dislike Justin's oeuvre, he describes himself as more of a fan of “really obscure 80s music that people probably haven't heard of.” His status as an unknown, German-born songwriter who loves the spotlight and has an all-press-is-good-press attitude, however, has made him prime fodder for the sensationalistic wasteland that is modern news.

Annoncering

To Google Toby is to inundate oneself with dozens of articles about his “obsession” with Justin and “addiction” to plastic surgery. It doesn’t matter which one you read – they all essentially say, “Get a load of this weirdo.” Independent of this, Toby has little online presence. The only digital traces of him I could find – the only clues about the man behind the $100,000 mask – were a Whitney Houston tribute song he uploaded to YouTube in 2012, a MySpace page with three demos, and a Facebook profile. As someone trying to make it in the entertainment industry, you would think he'd have his own website or, at the very least, a LinkedIn profile. Along with the aforementioned mountains of overwhelmingly judgmental press, this made me assume he was the byproduct of a celebrity-obsessed culture – your industry-standard, insane famewhore. Once I actually spoke to him, however, I quickly learned this was not the case.

Toby’s songwriting career began in Germany. He sent demos around to various labels.  “[Some labels] liked my songs, but I guess found it hard to market me as a newcomer,” he said. “I got contacted by the publishing subsidy of Sony, and it just went from there. It was more about the songs than about them trying to market me as a brand-new artist.” (Sony’s representative was unable to confirm if Toby had a deal with the company.)

According to Toby, the label wasn’t exactly forthcoming about why they chose his songs over him, but it didn’t matter. “At the time, the market over there was pretty saturated,” Toby recalled. “I'm not the best singer in the world either, so maybe that had something to do with it, too. I think I write better than I sing anyway, so it wasn't a huge blow to me.”

Annoncering

After establishing himself as a successful songwriter in his native Germany, Toby moved to Los Angeles, the city of his childhood dreams, in 2001. He and his co-writer made their living ghostwriting songs for European artists – hence Toby’s lack of an online presence. (Toby claimed to have used his ghostwriting job to fund his surgeries.) Although Toby would like to place songs with American artists, he acknowledged the implausibility of this dream: “I'm not really into the whole R&B and rap scenes, which are more popular in the US,” he said, “which is probably why I'm more successful in Europe, because I don't write that kind of stuff.”

Toby’s career as a songwriter kept him out of the spotlight – nevertheless, his looks still troubled him. In his early 20s, he started losing his hair; a series of unsuccessful hair transplants followed. Nearly a decade before Justin was wetting prepubescent panties with his signature hairdo, Toby had a vague vision of himself with bangs. “But I don't think I would have known exactly what I wanted if I hadn't seen him,” Toby said. “[When Justin] hit the scene, it just kinda sparked my interest again in actually looking younger.” Envious of Justin’s youthful good looks, Toby’s hair obsession was reignited. In the interest of finding someone who would give him “those Bieber bangs,” he did a lot of research, ultimately finding a doctor in New York City who, after two transplants, gave him the rich mane he has today. The hair, of course, was the tip of the iceberg.

Annoncering

“I was looking at Justin's picture,” he recalled, “and I noticed differences. I was like, Why don't I look young, too? I have the hair. I went to different dermatologists, and they did Botox, and laser procedures, and injectables, and there was a difference – I looked a little bit younger, but still not to the point where people approached me and said, ‘Hey, you look so great,’ so I tried to find out where celebrities go for their treatments. I found a dermatologist in Brentwood. When she injected me, it was just night and day from all those other dozens of surgeons I had gone to before. She really understood the aesthetics and what makes a face youthful. I told her about my desire to look more like Justin – even younger – and she referred me to my lip surgeon.” That doctor, in turn, referred him to his eye surgeon, and so on.

It took a team of surgeons to create Toby’s new look. After myriad lifts, injections and eye surgeries, Toby has finally achieved his dream of everlasting youth – pending, of course, touch-ups every ten years. “I get told a lot that I should be a model, that I should be on TV,” Toby said. “Friends of mine who saw me before the surgeries, and know me now, say I look so much hotter.”

Angie Espinosa, a friend of Toby’s, concurs. She initially had her reservations about Toby’s surgeries because, in her opinion, he was “already good looking.” Ultimately, though, she considers them a success. Whenever Toby goes clubbing with her, he gets carded – which is exactly what he wanted.

Annoncering

Of course, at age 33, Toby isn’t old. Why, then, is he so obsessed with looking young? “When you're in your late 20s and early 30s,” he explained, “you notice the changes. You notice that some things don't look right anymore, and my opinion is that if you wait till you're 40 or 50 to get a facelift, your facial framing and everything has already changed.”

Like most tabloid heroes, Toby is a reflection of our culture. We live in a world obsessed with youth and appearance – from makeup to workout videos, we spend billions trying to give good face. Unlike Toby, however, none of us actually want to own up to it; to admit one’s obsession with one’s looks is considered vain and narcissistic. The only thing that makes Toby odd, then – not weird, odd – is his candour and willingness to not only admit but unapologetically embrace his vanity.

Toby is, obviously, a proponent for plastic surgery; perhaps his biggest long-term goal is to become an advocate for people who want to go under the knife. Toby believes the secrecy and stigmas that surround plastic surgery have created a world of misinformation that puts people at risk – as someone who has received six failed hair transplants, he knows what he’s talking about.

“Everyone has to be so hush-hush, and no one can really say anything, even though everyone does it,” Toby said. “But there are so many crooks out there, and they'll take your money, and they'll mess you up. I just hope I can serve as a sort of a public speaker, an advocate for plastic surgery, to make people understand that it's OK to want to look younger, and to make them think, Where should I go, and what should I watch out for? Because it happened to me before, too."

Annoncering

Toby hopes his story will silence plastic surgeries’ opponents, because he finds nothing wrong with what he’s done.  “[They] might spend [their] money on mansions and cars and drugs,” he said, “and that's all basically OK, but if I wanna look younger, suddenly [they’ve] got a problem.” Toby has a point: Is his plastic surgery really worse than the actual Justin squandering millions on weed and Lamborghinis?

Toby’s advocacy goals are already coming true. “I've gotten so many emails,” he marveled, “messages from people who ask me, ‘Who's your doctor? I went to so-and-so and they messed me up; I have such a big scar, or my lips are crooked or whatever. Can you help me?’ It's really sad.”

While Toby is only fascinated with Justin on a surface level, he doesn’t care if the press presents him as a deranged fan. “It's OK,” he said, “because I did this for myself. I'm surprised, honestly, that it became as big as it did, but I'm fine with it, because hopefully this whole thing can shed a little more light on surgeries.”

The press release for Toby’s new single, “Justified (featuring Adam Barta),” describes Justin as “his idol,” but the single exists so he can work the system to his advantage. According to Toby, “If they want to portray me as this obsessed stalker of Justin Bieber, it's fine with me, because I guess it gets people to say, ‘Hey, what's going on with that guy?’ And then if they really start listening to me, they'll realize that's really not the case. I mean, I like his looks. That's basically it. I have no problem with being portrayed as crazy or outrageous. I know I'm not, and that's all that matters.”

@BornFeral