Discussion: To Nip-and-tuck, or not to Nip-and-tuck…
“I just know no matter how good I feel about myself, if I see Christy Turlington, I just want to give up!” – Charlotte York, Sex and the City
When I was younger, I spent hours flipping through the pages of VOGUE, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. Fashion magazines were an escape from reality for me and countless other little girls. Probably some little boys, as well.
The supermodels in these magazines dated rock stars, swigged champagne, and notoriously didn’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day. By contrast, I was a bespectacled bookworm with a mouthful of braces and an unfortunate mushroom cut. Don’t blame me; I went to the salon with a photo of Linda Evangelista and left looking like Dorothy Hamill.
As I got older, the glasses were replaced by contacts, the braces came off, and I became acquainted with a very capable hairstylist. I came to terms with the fact that I was never going to look like a supermodel – at least not without a serious diet and some plastic surgery. I’m kidding, of course; but for many, surgery is a quick – if expensive – way to get the look they want.
In 2009, more than 12.5 million Americans had some type of cosmetic surgery, with breast augmentation being the most popular procedure, followed by liposuction, eye lifts, nose jobs, and tummy tucks (Source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons). Plastic surgery was once the exclusive domain of Hollywood starlets and trophy wives. Now everyone from housewives to teenagers goes under the knife – and it’s not always pretty.
For every tastefully done nose job, there’s a Heidi Montag lurking in the wings. Montag, who was a cute, blonde eighteen-year-old when we met her on The Hills, had ten cosmetic procedures in one day, earning her the nickname “Franken-Heidi.” Among other things, she got size F implants, which prevent her from jogging or hugging people, and she also had her back carved. What does that even mean???
Obviously, Montag is an extreme example. Not everyone who gets cosmetic surgery is insecure, superficial, or destined to look like Joan Rivers. I know plenty of women who have had work done and look great. Although plastic surgery seems out of the question at this point in my life, who knows how I’ll feel about the topic when I’m fifty, and gravity begins to take its toll? We can’t all age like Sophia Loren, you know.
But I’m a little concerned about a society in which going under the knife is the norm, as opposed to the exception. In the distant future, will we all look like Franken-Heidis? Will imperfect noses and small breasts become a thing of the past? Take Barbra Streisand, for example. I can imagine that if she were starting her career today, some music executive in a suit would tell her to “fix” her nose – which, in my opinion, is her best feature (excluding her voice, of course).
There’s just something really cool about someone who accepts his or her imperfections. Look at Spanish actress Rossy DePalma. With her exaggerated features, DePalma doesn’t exactly fit mainstream definitions of beauty. And yet, her ”Picasso-like” face was precisely the reason director Pedro Almodovar noticed here in a café. If she were just another pretty girl, he would have walked right past her.
And even if I could have waved a magic wand (or scalpel) and transformed my thirteen-year old self into a supermodel, I still wouldn’t have gotten what I really wanted, which was to feel beautiful. As I learned years later, that has nothing to do with the way you look to others, and everything to do with the way you look at yourself.
EDITOR’s NOTE: So what do you think? Is plastic surgery (for pure aesthetic reasons) ok or shallow? C’est la vie or just plain sad? Where do we draw the line? How do we teach our daughters to do the opposite of what Heidi Montag did? Leave a comment below or email us at girlsonthegrid AT gmail DOT com.