A number of us Babble Voices blogger types have been talking about plastic surgery over the past week — our feelings about getting it, or not getting it, or other people getting it, or dogs getting it. (We all agree: dogs should not get plastic surgery! Unless it’s those really wrinkly dogs with the big folds of skin all over their bodies. I mean, come on.)*
And the thing is, I’m really torn about this issue. I kind of wish it were a simpler time when NOBODY got botox or nose jobs or facelifts or tummy tucks or other procedures for purely cosmetic purposes (I don’t include post-trauma plastic surgery), so we were all on an level playing field. You know?
We’d all be forced to work with low-tech, affordable tools like makeup and hair dye and girdles and the like to attempt to beautify ourselves, and we’d all get saggy and baggy together, and it wouldn’t be a big deal. And, yes, maybe some of us would go through life hating our crooked teeth or large noses or the circles under our eyes or the things that childbirth did to our midsections. But the idea of “fixing” it wouldn’t even be on the table.
Accordingly, we wouldn’t be bombarded by images of movie stars and other celebrities looking impossibly — imPOSSibly – smooth and lifted for their age. Or even witness “regular” people around us looking suddenly more nipped and tucked, while the rest of us — the un-tampered with — continue to let nature have its way.
In this sort of utopia, the idea of getting a certain “fix” that I consider having at some point down the road wouldn’t even enter my consciousness.
Here’s the thing: I’ve never been a huge fan of my chin / neck. Which have a habit of being interconnected. I suspect this flaw will only worsen as I get older, eventually devolving into a full-fledged wattle. Or Jabba-like chin/neck. A chneck, if you will.
It is on account of this feature that, if I’m in a group photo, I always try to be one of the people sort of half-crouching in front, so my head is sort of craning forward, and all you can see is the shape of face, which is perfectly fine. (though it will, inevitably, become jowly as the years pass.)
Believe me, I’ve got other less-than-perfect features that I could “improve” with surgery: flabby, post-twins tummy. Very small (also thanks to twin pregancy / nursing) boobs. Plus the usual little signs of aging: wrinkles developing around my eyes and mouth. But these things have never bothered me so much that I’ve seriously thought about surgery or botox for them.
The chneck thing, though. Yeah.
But could I justify dropping a few thousand bucks (and it’s not like we have piles of money just sitting around) for a cosmetic procedure? Would I want to send the message to my daughters that if you don’t feel 100% happy about your appearance, you should go under the knife? And do I want to give in to the pressures of our youth-and-beauty obsessed culture (particularly where women are concerned) to the extent of going under general anesthesia and having my face cut with sharp tools, with all the risks that this entails?
How, then, do I come to peace with this thing I don’t like about my body? Or the creeping (well, drooping) physical realities of growing older? And, yes, I know, I’m not even 40 yet, but it’s all relative, right? There will always be someone older than me thinking, “Ha! But you’re just a spring chicken! Just wait!” To which I say: exactly!! I know it’s only going to get worse!
Look, I’m not a person with low self-esteem. I feel good about who I am and even what I look like, for the most part. I’m not conventionally beautiful — heads rarely turn when I walk by, and never have, unless they’re the heads of drunk or deranged people. But I’m no shlub, either.
But, man. I never knew how shitty this getting older thing would feel sometimes. I hate looking in the mirror and seeing my face starting to drop, and my chneck starting to get chneckier. There are days when I start trolling the internet for before-and-after images of people who have had various surgeries, or pinch and pull my face in the mirror, trying to imagine what I might look like after some “improvements.”
And then, a whole other question: if I did have “work” done, would I admit it to anyone besides my closest friends? Would I want them to know I’m that vain? (Of course, I’ve just admitted to all of YOU how vain I am. Heh.)
I should add that I truly don’t think there’s anything *wrong* with people having cosmetic surgery or other procedures (botox, etc.) if it’s something that’s really important to them. Several Babble Voices bloggers — including Ali Wentworth, Rene Syler, and Ana Flores — have had (or are having, in the case of Ali) work done. Do I think that makes them any less smart, interesting, empowered, etc.? No. I say go for it, girls.
But, again, I’d prefer my old timey utopia, where NOBODY gets surgery, so I wouldn’t even have to think about it. Instead, I have to be all self-reflective and thoughtful and tortured about it. Which is really stupid. There are better things I could be doing with my time and energy. (But at least I can tell comfort in the fact that a lot of other women I respect have similar struggles.)
So I just need to let it go, right? Embrace my inner chneckinstein? Tell myself that lines and sags are beautiful in their own way, because they speak of wisdom and experience, and stuff about my inner beauty shining through and all the rest? F*@k the patriarchy, right? (Or the beautiarchy, or whatever you want to call it….)
I’m trying. Believe me, I’m trying.
And what about you? Have you ever thought about (or had) botox or plastic surgery? Would you? Would you tell people? Do you think it’s OK for other people to do it, or vain / greedy / or none of your damned business? Finally, would you like to join my old-timey, au naturel utopia? Note: you might also have to churn your own butter. But it’s great for those sagging triceps.
*A discussion about plastic surgery on dogs may or may not have actually taken place.
My book: DOUBLE TIME, my memoir of parenting twins, battling depression and chasing that ever-elusive work/home balance.
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Photo: Lisby1 (Flickr)