Ask any of my friends what they think of plastic surgery and immediately you’ll get an eye roll followed by something like, “That’s ridiculous! Why can’t women just be beautiful they way they are? Besides it all looks so fake and where would I find the money anyhow?” It’s the (feminist) party line. And, really, all good points. It is what I myself always say when I see a celebrity with a newly corrected “deviated septum” or a sudden growth of grapefruits in the chestal area.
Until the other day when Gym Buddy Lisseth said, “What if money wasn’t an issue? There’s nothing you’d get fixed?” I was about to reply when she pointed to her chest. “Because I’d get my boobs done. Nothing crazy, just get them put back to where they were before I had kids, you know?”
I do know. Just that day I’d been admiring my own pregnancy-endowed rack in the gym mirror and wondering if there was any way to get the boobs without the accompanying belly. If there has been one thing severely damaged by my pregnancies other than my stomach, it’s my chest. And the damage is cumulative. With each child, they get smaller and droopier. (As a teen I used to console myself that being small-chested meant that at least I’d never sag. Not true, sisters, not true.) I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me. Like Lisseth, I don’t want the Pamela Lee Special. I’d just like to be restored to what I used to have.
Lisseth elbowed me, “Admit it. You would.”
“I might,” I conceded. Except that even with money out of the way there are plenty of other things for a control freak like me to worry over. For instance, I just finished reading a book – If I am Missing or Dead (great read, btw! Thanks Turbo Jennie!) – where a surgeon accidentally detaches a woman’s pectoral muscles during routine implant surgery. The results made her a lifelong freak show.
“My boobs are fine,” another Gym Buddy piped up, “but I’d definitely get some tummy/love handle lipo.” Pause. “You know, if it were free.”
Lisseth added, “And I’d get my stretch marks lasered off.”
From there the conversation devolved into a melee of everything we’d change about ourselves. Arm fat! Thighs that touch! Muffin top! 12 toes! Oh, wait. And while we were ostensibly talking about plastic surgery, what we really meant was a magic wand. What if you could just go to sleep and wake up a few hours later with lifted and filled-out breasts (okay, and some soreness)?
There was a time when women used to age. There were no surgeries to take out cancerous tumors much less something cosmetic like a tummy tuck. They aged because it was inevitable and so I like to think that they didn’t worry about it overly much. Sure everyone laments the loss of youthful beauty and vitality but when there isn’t anything to do about it, the practical get on with the business of living, right?
But these days the choice is not so clear cut. We’ve seen, courtesy of stars, how plastic surgery can go terribly wrong (I will not invoke the late Michael Jackson’s name. Must think of someone else. Can’t. But I don’t want to appear insensitive. And yet. Seriously.) but also how it can help so very much (Helloooo Demi Moore!). There’s also a host of options in between aging gracefully and surgery, including everything from anti-aging drugstore lotions to botox to fillers to in-office procedures.
In addition to all of these Frankenstein-esque procedures, we have a litany of “natural” cures for aging ranging from exercise and a healthy diet to antioxidant supplements, detoxing drinks and other homeopathic options. (Side note: I have heard many, usually male, fitness professionals say that if you do the proper exercise and nutrition, obtaining a low enough percentage of bodyfat, that anyone can lose their tummy. I’m telling you from personal experience that that is a lie. Stretched out skin, in my case from 5 pregnancies, while it can be helped by diet and exercise, is not cured by it.)
I daresay that everyone these days does something – whether it be as simple as taking fish oil supplements because you’ve heard they’ll help your skin stay supple or as complicated as a face lift – to try and look more youthful. Even the youth themselves have jumped on the anti-aging bandwagon with “wrinkle prevention” skin creams targeted as young as the tween demographic. A recent magazine article I read actually said that if you hadn’t started using a retinoid face cream by 20 then you were doomed to premature aging and deep wrinkles. 20!!
One of the quirks about pregnancy is that many chemicals become off-limits to you the second that pregnancy test turns positive. Because any face containing anything harsher than plain soap is verboten, I had to give up my daily application of anti-wrinkle face lotion and wash. It worried me, I admit it. And I’m only 31.
Whether it’s the relentlessly practical Minnesotan in me or my fear of unnecessary surgery, I’m pretty sure I’ll stay away from anything involving a scalpel. (At least as long as Victoria’s Secret keeps making their amazing padded bras, anyhow!) At this point I’d say I’d avoid injections too. But creams, supplements, and makeup all attract me. And definitely count me in for healthy eating and exercise. I’d like to say that this mindset won’t shift over the years but if there’s one thing I learned from my conversation with the Gym Buddies it’s that the issue is not so simple.
Take my handy-dandy poll below or leave me a comment: Where do you fall on the spectrum? Would you ever get plastic surgery? Anyone else worry about the effect on the little girl of filming the above video clip? (I know it’s a joke and all but still…)