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Plastic Surgery and the Velveteen Rabbit

So wow. Ali Wentworth posts a video about her decision to get plastic surgery on her eyes and BOOM, we’ve got ourselves a nice little conversation over here. Which is exactly what Ali was trying to generate a conversation especially in light of how hard she found it to generate any chatter on the topic while making her decision.

But for what it’s worth, I don’t think that people are reluctant to talk about it. Again, we’ve been all over this thing here on Babble Voices with posts addressing cosmetic surgery here, here, here and here (to name but a few). Though I would be the first to admit the following: Bloggers might be more prone to tackling such a topic because, well, we’re bloggers.

Regardless, no one can argue with this: The topic is a taboo one. And opinions run the entire gamut. Some consider a little Botox here and there to be one thing, but a boob job to be something else entirely. Others are willing to let a tummy tuck for a pregnancy-affected belly slide, but cast aspersions about a similar tightening of the face. And there are some who consider any and all procedures fair game and applaud the brave women who are willing to undergo them. But there are also those who believe taking a knife in the name of vanity to be among the worst message mothers could ever send to their daughters.

And no matter where you fall into that spectrum, odds are that you have a pretty strong opinion of it.

So, again, it’s not that I think that women are unwilling to talk about it. It’s just that it’s a hard thing to discuss. Let’s face it — it’s difficult to inject an easy-to-follow, linear thread of rationale into something that’s so emotionally and psychologically charged. And a smarter man than I would leave such a topic well enough alone.

This is the mandatory part of the post where I assure you that despite how that last sentence may have come off, I do, indeed, realize that men also get plastic surgery. (I’m looking at you, Carrot Top.) However, by and large, the arena of plastic surgery still belongs primarily to women. Which is exactly why a smarter man would leave this alone, because good luck speaking your mind either way, guys.

I mean, if you tell a woman who’s considering plastic surgery that you think she looks great the way she is, you’re probably about to hear something along the lines of: What the hell do you know? Your tits don’t look like a coupla grapefruits bungee jumping from your chest. And if you go the understanding/empathetic route by saying you do, indeed, understand why she’s contemplating plastic surgery, suddenly you’re a dick. And a superficial one at that.

So at the risk of all that comes with it, I chime in anyway, only I do so with a bit of a waffle — a bit of a “to-each-her-own” stance. I mean, hell, it’s your body and your money, so have at it, girl. But do yourself a favor and read Margery Williams’ timeless classic The Velveteen Rabbit before you make that consultation appointment.

You remember the book, right? It’s about a toy rabbit who desperately wants to keep a little boy’s love, ever insecure about the fancier, shinier toys with which he must compete — insecure, too, about the run-down condition the years of use have rendered. But, as the Skin Horse had tried to tell him time and time again, the rabbit had nothing to worry about, as evidenced by my favorite quote of the entire book:

Weeks passed, and the little Rabbit grew very old and shabby, but the Boy loved him just as much. He loved him so hard that he loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned grey, and his brown spots faded. He even began to lose his shape, and he scarcely looked like a rabbit any more, except to the Boy. To him he was always beautiful, and that was all that the little Rabbit cared about. He didn’t mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn’t matter.

The toy rabbit aged the way he aged for a reason. And I think we age the way we age for a reason, too, and that there’s real beauty in all of that. A more soulful and truer beauty, in fact, than wrinkle-free foreheads and gravity-defying ta-tas. So while I’m sympathetic to the myriad of issues (be they psychological, social, media-driven, etc…) which compel folks to seek plastic surgery, I’m not the biggest fan. Because the various things which folks tend to remedy? I don’t see them as flaws. I see them as evidence of a life well lived. Evidence of someone well-loved. Just like the Velveteen Rabbit was.

Look. I get it. Life isn’t a children’s book. And the issue of plastic surgery isn’t so simple. But how I wish that weren’t the case. Because sometimes we tend to over complicate things. And I think that’s a shame. Because it’s often the very simplest of things that are the most beautiful of them all.

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