Friday, June 5, 2009

Eye of the beholder?

Let me tell you right now, this post is all over the place. You are forewarned.

Ah, plastic surgery. I used to say "I'd never". Now I say, "I can see why". To an extent. I have spent the majority of my youth (pre kids) being within normal range in weight. I have never had large boobs (with the exception being pregnancy and nursing - and I was never too impressed), in fact was teased for having nothing on top. But I like it. Embrace it. It fits my shape (or lack there of). And I have never been a Buns of Steel kind of gal but I do a good job of eating well and being in relatively good shape. But even in my prime, I never had a tush like Audrina, of Hill's fame. I always had saddle-y baggage (but I would love to have that 20 year old backside that I shunned back compared to what I have now!).

I am now 32. Having fluctuated by 60-75 lbs three separate times in 5 years has not done me any favors. Nursing three hungry babies has contributed. And while I am back down to pre-children weight, I will never have a taut tush. Gravity has taken its toll and the saddle bags are blending with the seat. I don't know if my stomach will ever be rockin' like it once was and I marvel that my boobs can be so small and yet be flabby and empty. I want my perky back. The problem? I don't want size, just my old friends, where they used to sit and I want them to point the same direction without me manually correcting them. Although I have no plans for surgery, I cannot honestly rule it out. And although I will be the one to decide and my husband somehow is still wildly attracted to me, he would not deter me from adding some trinkets to the top shelf, if you know what I mean. And if I wanted to reshape the backside because it would make me feel better about myself, he would not be disgruntled.

Back to the plastic. Would the post have had a different effect/reaction on/from you if it had been written by a woman? I mean, PS did focus on women and the parts of us that are widely sexualized by both genders. He brought up some interesting points. I could be wrong but I don't think that PS ever said that if you are heavy or flabby bypass healthy options like eating well and exercising and head straight to the nearest doc. I am all for people being comfortable with their bodies. But I also think that if they have something they would like to "improve" with surgery when all else has failed or there is no hope of your ideal shape returning, more power to you. And, duh, it should be a personal choice, done for yourself but frankly, if you are doing something to make you look better aren't you going to feel better and feel sexy? What is wrong with that? And although we all have different types we are attracted to, you have to admit that a great personality can only get a possible suitor so far. You have to be to physically attracted to someone, even a little bit, for a long-lasting relationship to happen. And yes, after a while, it all kind of melds together - the physical and the mental relationship - but repulsion or indifference does not a merry couple make.

And let me say this now. I'm ok with plastic surgery for anyone who wants it. It does scare me when you have those that do it to fit the mold that they feel society has pressured them in to. Or do it for some sort of attention or to feel accepted. And I think that is what some of you readers were referring to. Then there are those who have become addicted to it. Who is that woman who has over 50 surgeries? The human Barbie doll. Pamela Anderson. Michael Jackson. Carrot Top. Not ok with me.

And do we have a double standard? I have a friend who is a size 2 or less and had size quintupled D sized bazoombas. I say had because she had them reduced. Not because they were hurting her but because she was self-conscience of her appearance. Not one of her friends tsk tsked her or thought she was vain but isn't it the exact same thing as being self-conscience of your appearance when you feel your chest is lacking? And then enhancing them? And even though a reduction (or at least hers at the time) did not leave her boobs looking beautiful sans clothing(scarring), she was more confident in her appearance and it showed in how she acted. Good for her.

Then there is my friend who had a nose job when she was 20. Those who knew her then said that they could barely tell the difference between the old nose and the new nose, but she felt better about it.

And what about men who decide to have lipo? Or pec implants? Or those calf implants that Dove loves? Society would probably raise an eye to such stuff but not the kind of scrutiny that women receive (from both sexes!) when they choose plastic surgery. And studies show men are quickly becoming front runners in plastic surgery procedures. But mostly we judge the women. We are all guilty of it.

And so what if it is vain. Would you buy the pair of jeans that make you look like you have mom butt over the pair that compliments your derriere? Do you wear makeup? Even lip gloss? Have you ever had your hair colored? Have you ever picked the insanely uncomfortable high heels over the flats because you knew that your legs looked amazing in the heels? Pedicure? Feels good but makes those toesies look pretty. Vanity. I know that it is a bit different from a medical procedure but an a smaller scale it is peacocking at its finest. And to be honest, I usually dress for the women anyway. Dave thinks I am pretty hot, but rarely digs my style. The women in the room are the ones that notice. Vanity. I own it.


Amanda of Through the Looking Glass fame and who has contributed over here with this post and this post is a finalist in a spa contest. Go here and leave a comment on her post and it will give her a vote. Please. If you read through all the finalists, you will see she is clearly the winner.

speaking of peacocking - you'll be the prettiest with a Miss Ruby Sue adorning your person, remember to enter the giveaway! Or just go do something nice for someone anyway.

and head on over to christy's home at a lil' welsh rare bit, she has got a great giveaway


Christy said...

You know what, I am sure my own reaction would have been very different if a woman had written that first piece. Hearing your perspective makes total sense to me. It's hearing some guy say that if you're getting a tummy tuck, why not ask the dr for a boob lift too that really irks me.

If you want it, get it - and hopefully you LOVE the results, because it is YOUR body after all! I suppose I own up to my vanity too each time I put on lip gloss and wear my pretty but blister-inducing shoes...

And true story - my sister in law is an o.r. nurse who has worked on many implant surgeries for men. In the 'ahem' nether regions. Seriously - old, young, fit, fat men getting bigger down there!

Great post - so glad you wrote it.

Nicole said...

I ditto everything you said. I really feel that if you have tried to exercise and eat right and things just aren't working for you that you shouldn't be exhiled for choosing surgery (when it's tasteful and in good judgement, of course)

Through the Looking Glass said...

Yep, I agree, but you know what? I don't even care if women get plastic surgery without working out first or dieting. Feminism at its finest, I say. Have an ear sewn to your clavicle, have a third breast added, have nipples surgically adhered to every surface of your body...

But do what you want, for the reasons you believe will bring you joy. And while we all agree we live in a highly sexualized society, I don't think I can name one woman or man who isn't complicit in perpetuating that environment to some degree. No one wants to be unattractive to the opposite (or same) sex to which they're attracted.. You may wish said sex would find your natural beauty more appealing than he or she does, but in the end, we all do our best to bring our A game.

Women are the harshest critics of women - men get to sit back and laugh as we knock each other over because her boobs are bigger than mine, because she Botoxed her forehead and I didn't. In the end, I think nothing brings us closer to emancipation than supporting each other and allowing each other the right to look however we want.

And for the record, how I want to look is an awesome but small-ish rack, a tight a**, a flat stomach and rockin' legs. Some of that will come with time and effort, some may come with thousands of dollars, and let's face it - some ain't happening at all, despite all the money in the world.

Anonymous said...

My issue with PS's article is not that he is in favor of plastic surgery, but that he 1) tries to equate a birth defect with the natural progression a body makes (all people sag whether they had children or not and lots of people have stretch marks on all different parts of their body), 2) that he says what he finds attractive ie flat stomach and perky boobs are totally physiological and not societal (HELLO! ever heard of any culture or time period besides 2009 USA? There are cultures right now that find beauty in stretch marks and fat, mothers who force feed their daughters so someone will marry them, places without bras and naturally hanging breasts that some might call saggy, cultures who stretch their necks and ear lobes to absurd lengths in the name of beauty, places in Asia where the new fad is to break your legs in an effort to extend them, have eyelid surgery, and bleach your skin all to have a more American look, there are cultures where men wear make up instead of women, where scars are seen as marks of beauty and people regularly cut themselves for the effect. There have been cultures in the past that broke and bound girls feet so that they could have the sexy small feet so in style (no matter they could barely walk), where women wore corsets to have unnaturally small waists and hoop skirts to have unnaturally large hips. In America in the 1920's it was the most attractive for women to have no shape and to bind their breasts down. In the 1980's we word huge shoulder pads . The examples are endless.) and 3) that he tries to promote plastic surgery as a way to become closer to having the perfect body that God has designed for us. This is propaganda in the worst form. How does he know what God sees as the perfect body? If there was one look that was perfect why are we all so different? Are we all going to be resurrected with blond hair, blue eyes and white skin too? As far as I know Jesus had scars on his perfect resurrected body. There were no details about a fab tan, tight skin, and hard pecs. Don't try to spread the idea that God inspired plastic surgery so we could pay a lot of money and go through risky and unnecessary surgery to become more like he intended us to be. This nonsense only adds to women questioning their inherent worth and value. An aging and changing body is what God intended us to have in my opinion.
If people want to have plastic surgery, that is their choice, even if it means going to extremes. I personally am encouraged and uplifted when I see other women with natural bodies. They might not fit a particular mold that is currently seen as perfect, but I see in them beauty anyway and this helps me to believe that I can be beautiful naturally too.

Christy said...

anonymous - my email address is on my profile. Email me your blog address, if you have one. I'd like to read it, I'm sure.

mavis said...

I love the conversations that this is sparking but have a really hard time with anonymous comments - sorry. Not that I want to discourage anybody from commenting but to me, it just seems like you are hiding behind a large curtain, like the Wizard of Oz.

On that note:
I doubt I will ever have surgery. We have all agreed it is, in the context we are speaking about, elective. But I am all for choice. The societal quests for beauty that anonymous has cited are all true, and yes it still happens today but in this context we are talking about ELECTIVE, OF OUR OWN CHOICE surgery. Don't even get me started on what happens to women in other countries. Every society has their version of beautiful. Some are terrible and inhumane, but not all. Women in burkas, who we see as oppressed, have been noted as saying they feel pretty under their burkas - it is their way of life. Of course, not all women in this culture feel this way and of course, we as American women find it oppressing, but it is what it is. I agree that we have seen and heard of some seriously barbaric notions of what makes a woman beautiful that is encouraged (or maybe even demanded) in some cultures - horrible. But again, we are talking about here, in America, during this time. You are right, we have gone through fads - the 20's, the terribly gaudy 70's, the somewhat granola and sexless 90's, minus that herion chic that played out.
IF someone wants to go and pay money to have someone add or subtract things from themselves - more power to them. There are always extreme cases, we could argue this for hours. I think we are pretty dang lucky to live in a time where my best friends are all different shapes and sizes and society can love us or hate us for it. We should all be supportive of one another, be each other's champions (like Amanda said above), but if one of my friends decides she wants her love handles calgon'd away, that is her choice. And frankly, we all have sexualized ourselves - it is our society. WE do it when we get dressed in the morning or preen before going on a date. We all have our own limits and lines we won't cross. I have a woman I know and admire who has saved billions by not buying hair products, lotions, makeup or even updated clothing for that matter and it is just as comfortable in her own skin as I am in my matchstick jeans from J.Crew.
Also, it is my belief that Jesus has the scars on His resurrected body to remind us of the sacrifice he made for all of us. Once again, not to go into religion, but my opinion. And I don't think that we are going to all end up in the hereafter looking like clones, we will all have our own kind of beautiful and perfection. But of course, we all have our different beliefs and opinions. I'm glad that we can share it here.

PagerStalker said...

I thought this was interesting - just to echo what the famous Anonymous said (she is famous - I have seen her posts on many other blogs as well) - that is that what is beheld as beautiful certainly has societal influences. Check it out yo!

Anonymous said...

I'm commenting anonymously because (unfortunately) I have family who read this blog who would be extremely judgmental if they knew I had plastic surgery. That's right, my surgery fits my body so perfectly that I look absolutely natural, just the way I love it. Nobody but my husband ever had to see just how flat-chested I was, or the-literally-concave left breast that was a result of a rather large lumpectomy (thank you padded bras, for all your years of friendship!) I never felt self-conscious, not even in a bikini. Really, I was that flat that no-one noticed. And I would NEVER want surgery! But, oh, ladies (and gents) how much of a difference it has made in my life, when I finally decided to do it! (another story in itself) the confidence and newfound joy of feeling so WOMANLY! Even breastfeeding I only achieved a small A. So small and inadequate that I had to supplement. I never knew what I was missing; I thought I was content, but am now even moreso! Kind of like people who decide to have kids, and find out how fulfilling they are. Fine without them, sure, but so much happier with them. Who knew I would feel MORE sexual and improve our sex life by so much? And in turn our marriage as a whole! I would have done it sooner, had I known I would benefit in so many ways, more than I wish to number here. It's too bad my family would not understand, or be happy for me, regardless of their opinions.

It seems that everyone on this blog agrees that it's a personal choice; if you want it, go for it! Why all the drama over anything else? None of us share an exact same opinion about ANYTHING. not exact: that's what makes us unique. Any subject can be debated, blah, blah, blah. I listened to opinions for a long time. I'm glad I finally reached beyond my comfort zone to find, surprise: something even more comfortable than before!