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Posts Tagged ‘cosmetic surgery’

I want to take a minute (or two) to talk about plastic surgery. I know I’m probably a little late in the game to discuss this, but this weekend a copy of People landed in my mailbox (thanks to the previous tenant’s subscription), with Heidi Montag’s newly shaped face staring at me from the cover. I have never watched The Hills, and I do not follow all the Heidi/Spencer drama, and normally I wouldn’t even open up People magazine, but I just had to when I saw the headline: 10 Procedures in 1 day. I was SHOCKED when I began to read the article describing how unsatisfied this 23-year-old girl was with her body, that she felt that she needed to have it all re-done. I was even more shocked when I saw the picture of her before all the surgeries only to realize that she was already a beautiful girl – and her when she smiled, her chin definitely did not look elongated (her complaint) to me.  And even with a size DDD chest, she still wants more surgery to further augment her breasts. How is she going to stay balanced after that surgery?

To me, all this plastic surgery is just a cry for help. It is clear to me that there is clearly something mentally wrong with this girl if she feels that at 23 she needs procedures like liposuction and a brow lift. What’s troubling is that People does not seem to give credence to this argument – they just photograph her in sexy poses, seemingly reaffirming her decisions and suggesting that all women should be as bold as to alter their bodies in this way.

What angers me the most, however, is the fact that there are cosmetic surgeons out there who are actually willing to perform these procedures on a 23-year-old. I am not familiar with the AMA Code of Ethics, but I feel like there should be something in there that prevents this from happening. How could a doctor ever look at Heidi Montag, or any other similar girl, and think, oh yes, I definitely see why she would want to have these procedures done? It disgusts me to think that there are doctors out there that are so motivated by money and possible celebrity shout-outs that they would disregard the fact that this poor girl needs serious psychological help. Someone needs to call these doctors out and force them to change their practices, because in my opinion performing all these procedures should have been criminal.

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So obviously I’m way young to be making this decision for myself, but cosmetic surgery is  one of those feminist dilemmas that gets me thinking. Can I, as a feminist, support cosmetic surgery? On the one hand, I feel like the pressures that suggest that women even need to get botox injections or other types of cosmetic surgery are really awful. They suggest that there is no such thing as “aging gracefully” for women. And of course it just reinforces the idea that women are valued for their looks, and not for their intelligence or personalities. I fully support the idea that a person should be comfortable with the body that she has and not the one that she should or could have. On the other hand, I don’t think this is a problem unique to women. I feel like our society as a whole has an obssession with yoouth – that growing old is just not option. Think about all the lengths men go to to prevent balding. Even some men get facelifts and botox injections. While it’s true that men are definitely subject to less pressures about age, and it is much more acceptable for an older man to be with a younger woman than an older woman to be with a younger man, I think that we should maybe step back and look at how the obsession with youth affects everyone and not just women.

This whole discussion has been very prevalent in the media recently because of the proposed tax on people who opt to have cosmetic surgery. While I agree with the message, that perhaps we should not be encouraging people to be making these changes to their bodies. But, I just don’t think that adding a tax for cosmetic surgery is the most effective way to do this. People are still going to have cosmetic surgery despite the extra cost. And really, why shouldn’t they, if that’s what they really want to do? What we should be doing is having a national discussion about aging. It’s going to happen to all of us, after all. Judith Warner has an interesting op-ed in the Times about this issue.  I think she makes some really good points about the current state of the feminist movement and our looks-obssessed culture.

Also a great post about this issue on salon.com here.

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