I’m at odds with the world of plastic surgery. I wrote a piece in 2011 focused on the dilemma a British woman found herself in after botched work . (She never got the £54 million she thought she deserved, though.) I’m generally appalled by the lengths to which some women will go to look fitter, younger, more mutant or less ethnic. (It affects guys, too. I mean, what the hell, Kenny Rogers? What the merry flipping Ken doll hell?) Some people are addicted to plastic surgery and are never satisfied with their latest run under the knife. Bigger butts, shorter toes, changing the shape of the chin or nose or jaw or cheeks… Facelifts and vagina lifts.. I don’t think there’s an area of the body immune to one’s notion of “room for improvement.”
Earlier this month I got a kick out of story regarding a new television series set in Miami in 1959 and the hellish time the casting people had finding women who didn’t have boob jobs.
Producers discovered many women of South Florida have been surgically enhanced beyond anything natural to the late 1950s.
“I’ve actually had better luck finding synchronized swimming groups than I did finding real boobs,” said Bill Marinella, local extras casting director. “We did a lot of research and reached out to burlesque clubs and just finding people on the beach and literally walking up to them on the street and saying, ‘Hey, you look like you’re right out of The Great Gatsby.’ ”
I suppose it’d be impossible to separate the sense of self worth from the judgement of one’s looks (or at least the suspicion that looks are being judged). I know there are women who claim boob jobs made them more confident, or made people take them more seriously. Hell, older successful women can’t even walk out the door sans makeup without some media outlet making a story out of it. Small wonder people will hurry to a doctor to erase the signs of aging. Every minor physical “flaw” is a reason to pick on someone…
It boosts my mood to see young girls taking popular magazines to task for their portrayals of women. Like 14 year old Julia Bluhm and her protest against Seventeen:
Julia’s journey from smalltown Maine to midtown Manhattan began less than two weeks ago, when she took her cause to Change.org, an activist forum, and set up her petition online. She was joined by six other teen girls and young women affiliated as she is with SPARK, a national organization that pushes back against sexualized images of girls in the media.
Julia made her case in detail at the top of her online petition, saying unrealistic images “can lead to eating disorders, dieting, depression, and low self esteem”:
“To girls today, the word ‘pretty’ means skinny and blemish-free. Why is that, when so few girls actually fit into such a narrow category? It’s because the media tells us that ‘pretty’ girls are impossibly thin with perfect skin.”
Those who run the mag assured her that they do their best to portray their models as authentic as possible but other magazines can’t make the same claim. Any lady-aimed rags you look at while in line at the grocery store will either feature immaculate women on the cover or flaunt the worst possible pictures of other women in order to mock the cellulite or the lack of “put-together” while out running errands. It’s a constant bombardment and a constant reminder that women apparently only exist to be admired for their beauty or insulted when they don’t accentuate their beauty.
But getting back to the plastic surgery part of this now – there are good reasons to have properly trained plastic surgeons. There are legitimate reasons beyond pure vanity to hire them; skin grafts for burn victims and fixing cleft palates are two uses that come to mind. There are probably others. I’d never say there’s no need for them but I think needs should be weighed in terms beyond “I want to be prettier!” I’ll quote the Daily Mail article I linked to above:
Rightly, the judge decided this was an over-inflated amount. But even to have granted a ninth of that sum seems to me excessive. Who’s to say the company wouldn’t have failed anyway? After all, it seems to have survived for years after her cosmetic surgery — failing only in 2009, when we were in the grip of recession.
I wouldn’t wish Penny Johnson’s experience on anyone. She certainly deserves much sympathy. But what a shame that she’s not telling the world that she will give most of that money to a charity for facially deformed children.
If only she just rolled up her sleeves and went back to work, she could prove to us all that there really is more to life than just a pretty face.
Yeah, if only. Unfortunately, it’d take more than one person to pull that off. Everybody would have to make the effort and it’s hard to say if there’d be much in the way of incentives for trying.
“But getting back to the plastic surgery part of this now – there are good reasons to have properly trained plastic surgeons. There are legitimate reasons beyond pure vanity to hire them; skin grafts for burn victims and fixing cleft palates are two uses that come to mind. There are probably others.”
Thank you for this! Yes, I totally agree with you about this vanity surgery, and this focus on being beautiful in the “right” way. I am glad to say that I’ve seen, though, what legitimate plastic surgery can do.
My Sweetie was having a terrible time with hernias. He’d have the surgery, and in a couple of months there would be a new hernia. Over and over, repeated hernia repair surgeries. A surgeon finally tried to solve the problem by putting mesh in. That caused a miserable infection, and created an open wound that wouldn’t heal over. Sweetie had to have another operation, this one involving both a surgeon to remove the mesh and a plastic surgeon to go in like opening a can of sardines and totally rearranging Sweetie’s innards. Things were a mess in there, adhesions all over the place. Once the plastic surgeon did his thing, the repeated hernias stopped. Hooray for Dr. DeSantis.
And then, how long ago? three years? four? my Sweetie nearly lost his right arm. A clot came out of his heart, went into his shoulder and stopped blood flow to his arm. He was without blood for a long time. They loaded him onto a helicopter and rushed him to a big fat hospital two hours away by car. The vascular surgeon didn’t feel good about it at all, because after being without blood for over eight hours, almost nine, it was a really long shot to save the arm. And even if they could save the arm from amputation, there was no guarantee that the arm would work, no way to predict how much function could be regained. But he was able to restore blood flow, and then it was up to the plastic surgeon to do his magic. The plastic surgeon had to clean out dying tissue and put the remaining muscle in the proper places and then wrap up the wide open arm but not sew things shut yet. That would come some time the next day. He had to go in again and work with the muscles again and do skin grafting and all kinds of sewing up. It’s a real Frankenstein Arm now, with the scars. But those surgeons succeeded against all odds. Ol’ Sweetie regained the use of his arm and went on to play his music – he’s a drummer – again, as well as ever. Thank you, vascular surgeon Dr. Atnip and plastic surgeon Dr. Johnson.
I’m sorry that when people think of plastic surgery they think of stuff like Michael Jackson or weird facelifts and boob jobs and all this vanity stuph, and are unaware of all the things plastic surgeons actually do.
Thanks for sharing. I’m glad everything worked out for the best.
I don’t mean to be a devil’s advocate here — but I happen to think plastic surgery is not as bad as the writer indicates. What is so bad about wanting to enhance one’s looks? Why is it okay to get braces to straighten out a child’s teeth, but it’s considered “wrong” to want to change someone’s nose? When a child’s ears stick out, it’s considered “acceptable” to have them pinned back via plastic surgery. But when some woman wants to have an eye lift, the writer cries that we’re playing god. Do you see the hypocrisy here? They all have the same goal: to enhance one’s looks — and I personally feel it’s everyone’s right to want to enhance his/her looks in any way he/she wishes. God put plastic surgeons on this planet for a reason.
I don’t believe in god but if people want to adjust the shape of their nose or “fix” something else they think is “wrong” with how they look, fine, so be it, I suppose. It’s got nothing to do with me. I think it can go too far, though, and I don’t think you’d disagree with me there. I think it can become a colossal waste of money when people aren’t satisfied with one touch up here or a lift there. And there will always be the doctors who encourage people to over-identify ever little perceived imperfection and then charge a small fortune for each (likely unnecessary) adjustment.
Braces are a different kettle of fish. Crooked teeth impact the way people eat and use their jaws. Too much of an overbite or some other issue like teeth crowding can affect health down the road, too. I suppose some people put themselves through the pain of braces just for a “beautiful” smile later though, too.