She peers into a hand held mirror to freshen up her pale peach lipstick. She squints her eyes and suddenly a frown appears where a smile had been just seconds before. “I need an eye lift… and while he’s at it, maybe I should get my boobs done again, I hate them.” This girl, my friend, who I had often admired for her smooth, thin legs and flat stomach, who’s natural beauty seemed effortless… was talking about herself as if she was disgusted. Rewind time to me and three girlfriends having drinks down town and the conversation shifts to BOTOX. “I need more than my doctor will give me” says one friend. Another leans into me and touches my forehead gently saying, “They could make this completely go away”. My friends agreed in chorus. Until that moment, I hadn’t put much thought into what I now call the “lobotomy scar” across my forehead, but right then, I was acutely aware that these women felt that I needed to modify the way I look to be pretty. They weren’t being mean to me, she was offering genuine “beauty” advice. It stung, though. I immediately felt indignant. Screaming “Fuck that! I don’t NEED that shit!”in my head, of course. In real life I remarked that BOTOX wasn’t for me. For months following that evening, I became more aware of my wrinkles. I had never paid much attention before and now I noticed each fine line and crevice that seemed to appear over night, on my round face. Speaking of round… Remember that time I posted about being The Fattest Girl in the Room? Well, I was then and I still am. The thoughts of cutting the extra fat away from my body were pretty regular from adolescence to adulthood. Not that I would have attempted such a thing, but day dreams of just being able to shave it away like carving an Easter ham were real. As an adult, the idea of liposuction to remove the fat from my flabby arms and wave goodbye to the “bingo wings”, has definitely been a reoccurring thought. As violent and expensive as that procedure would be, it MUST be better than having these giant arms, right? Man… Right now, in this moment, I am so glad that I’ve never had the money or drive to deeply consider and possibly even act on that notion. I want to be ultra clear here, I am not bashing women who have had elective surgery. I mean, we all have hang ups and I don’t want to pretend that I can understand each woman’s struggle for beauty. I ask this, though… who has decided what we should be striving for and when will we begin to question their decision?
Where do we draw the line? When does the modification of our appearance go from “normal” to extreme? I mean, I wear makeup every day. Like, I don’t leave the house without it and I feel prettier with it on. I color my hair, paint my nails and genuinely care about the way I look. In fact, although it goes against the grain of how we women should perceive ourselves, but I think I’m kinda hot! Dare I say, beautiful?!?! Gasp! The audacity of this fat girl! But… what makes my daily makeupping better than a boob lift or fillers injected in the lips? Nothing really. I suppose one could argue that makeup washes off and hair color grows out. Boobs and rhinoplasty are certainly more extreme and the modification is permanent, but we are, in both cases, still succumbing to the societal pressures of what beauty IS. It begs the question, “Oh, western culture! What are we doing to our daughters?!?!” An estimated 64,000 teen girls elect to have cosmetic surgery each year. Teen! They aren’t even done growing and cannot legally buy a car or enter into a binding contract without parental consent, yet… 64,000 are being trusted to know that they want to permanently modify their bodies. My first thought is, “Holy fuck, parents! Why????” But I know why. We remember. We can still feel the sting of getting undressed in gym next to our fully developed friends, or the pain in our stomach when we found out the boy we liked thought we were fat. We want to protect our babies from that. But, at what cost? Navigating those shity feelings is part of life! Hell, they made me strong! We can’t, nor should we want to, make all of those things go away. We have to make our precious girls understand that diversity IS beauty! Embrace your differences. The Kim’s and Kylie’s of the world are the exception not the norm! Lauren Hutton HATED her tooth gap as a child and adolescent. Had she changed it, she may never have been revered as one of the most beautiful women in the industry in her time. Likewise, Jennifer Grey was our beloved girl next door in Dirty Dancing. Her nose made her real. She was beautiful in a way that wasn’t conventional. She, like so many others, gave in to the idea that she was not good enough and, as a result, effectively ruined her career. Our culture has made it socially acceptable for girls and young women to seek plastic surgery by selling the idea that, if you are perfectly beautiful, you will be rich and famous and adored. Instead, we should be teaching our girls to push themselves academically and to practice self love. Teach them that there are times in life that they will be best served by being their own biggest fan! Love yourselves and love your fellow women! We are all in this together!
Women, ladies, girls, bitches… you are amazing. You are worthy. You are special. You are loved.
Swearing Mom out.