“The bitches are gonna judge, but I can’t control that. This is what I want.” She said it with conviction, and I knew her mind was made up.
We had been discussing cosmetic plastic surgery, my friend’s decision to have it, and the different surgeons she was considering. As I sat across from her listening, I couldn’t help the thoughts running through my head – She is beautiful. She doesn’t need plastic surgery. What is wrong with our culture that we can’t love and accept ourselves? Why don’t we respect our bodies and all our battle scars? When did ugly become so broad a term, and beautiful so narrow?
I think our culture has an illness – a psychological illness. We are obsessed with youth and the current standard of beauty – to the point of being disrespectful of the beauty of maturity, change, and individual uniqueness. Somewhere along the way, we’ve decided that a body that shows signs of aging is “disgusting” or “ugly”, and that “old” is synonymous with those two words. At the same time, a body that shows evidence of having given birth, or some other transformation – like large-scale weight gain or loss, is also “gross” or “shameful”. Additionally, when did we decide that everyone should look the same, and if you don’t fit the mold, you’re body is “unacceptable”?
This psychological sickness is robbing us of joy. With all the time, money, and energy spent focusing on how to change our imperfections and hide the signs of our experiences – there is nothing left to spend on celebrating all we have, all we’ve done, and all we’ve been given. There is so little celebration of the beauty and the respect that should exist for the bodies that allow us to live and love. Instead of amplifying our experiences by caring for and nurturing our bodies, we berate and belittle them with our words and actions. We abuse ourselves in every way imaginable. In doing so, we are sending our children all the wrong messages. We are the thieves of our own happiness and the destroyers of our own peace…and we are setting the stage for future generations to do the same.
Ah….but…I am digressing. This post isn’t meant to be about how I feel about our culture’s epidemic of vanity, or how consistently making decisions that reflect a lack of self-respect is making the world a harder place for our kids to grow up. This is meant to be a voicing of another realization I had while sitting at that table discussing boob jobs.
Judging someone else’s decision to have cosmetic plastic surgery is simply revealing your own insecurity and lack of self-respect – or worse, your own disillusioned sense of superiority.
This thought hit me like a ton of bricks when I looked across the table at a woman I love and respect – and couldn’t reconcile how to be supportive of my friend, and at the same time, be honest about how I feel about the vast majority of cosmetic surgery. Then I realized – one has nothing to do with the other.
We are experts on no one but ourselves – and even that is tainted by subjectivity. I cannot know what is best for someone else. I cannot make someone else feel comfortable in his/her own skin – something I believe everyone has the right to feel. If I have a problem with someone else making the decision to alter their body in any way, for any reason – what is that feeling really about? Stripped down to its most basic form, that feeling is really just a reflection of my own insecurity. How? Because it forces me to face these ideas: If I think she is beautiful, but she doesn’t, what does that make me? Am I in need of alteration too? OR If everyone else uses surgery to look perfect, my own flaws will be more evident. OR…any other ideas that run through the mind that are really just a knee-jerk reaction of insecurity disguised as moral high ground or faux-superior ideology.
Either you are comfortable in your own skin or you’re not. What other people do, think, or feel should have no effect.
I know that cosmetic plastic surgery, for me – at this point in my life – would not heal my insecurities. My issues – and I have plenty of them, live in my head. For me, cosmetic surgery would be about receiving external validation. It wouldn’t be about me – not really. It would be about other people – other people telling me I look good. This in all its forms – literally telling me (friends and family commenting), or more figuratively – for example, in they way clothes fit (the fashion industry telling me I look good). For me, none of this would make me love myself any more – because – for me, loving myself means accepting myself – my whole self – not just the way I look, and no one else can do or say anything that will make that happen for me. I have to find it by myself for myself. I also understand this is my take on what cosmetic surgery would do for me – and not what it would do or mean for anyone else.
So, I’m burying the cosmetic plastic surgery hatchet. To all of my friends, family, and the world at large – I hope and pray we all find contentment, peace, and joy within our own skin. It makes no difference to me how you go about finding it. Moreover, my opinion, and anyone else’s should make no difference whatsoever.
In conclusion, I have to agree with my friend – The bitches are gonna judge. There is nothing you can do about that. Do what you want.