The words of a lawyer I trained once always play in the back of my head, “The most dangerous thing you could ever do is show up at the hospital for an elective surgery.”
I am starting to wonder which part is more dangerous, the actual surgery or the events that led up to the elective surgery, or a particular kind of elective surgery. Wikipedia defines elective surgery as “surgery that is scheduled in advance because it does not involve a medical emergency.” My knee surgery, achilles surgery and hysterectomy were all elective surgeries. But the elective surgery that has me on edge today is one that is steadily on the rise. It’s the “it’s really not broken but I want to fix it” (the Tasha definition) surgery. But without it, unfortunately, there are lots of people who do feel broken. And that brokenness is louder than it’s ever been.Cosmetic surgery.
My friends at Moguldom Studios (if you haven’t checked them out, you should. They are on the cutting edge of story telling for today’s modern pop culture) sent me a copy of their release titled, “Knifed Up: The Evolution of Cosmetic Surgery.“ It was forty-five minutes in Starbucks (I had tea. I’m still on my coffee fast.) of holding my breath, shaking my head “yes”, shaking my head “no”, picking my jaw up off the ground and seeing flashbacks of my own life. All I could think was, “Wow.”
I AM one of those personal trainers who used to be DEAD SET AGAINST plastic surgery. And I still am for a certain group of people, particularly lazy ones who don’t want to do the work and think plastic surgery is going to fix all of their life’s problems and they will never have to work out again to keep the same body they got from the doctor’s office. I am also against it for people who lie to themselves about getting it just to be “proportioned” when it’s really a deeper psychological issue. If you are infected with poor self-esteem, it’s going to take more than some fake breasts to create a lasting sense of self worth. What you’ll end up with is just a fake sense of self esteem. But I digress.
A lot of the conversation was about women who wanted bigger breasts and a bigger butt. This is a conversation that always does something to me because, for so many years of my life, I wanted the OPPOSITE. I came into the world with the gene to be large in these areas. The first comment I remember about my butt had to be when I was six. My mother and my aunt were laughing at how high my skirt was in the back and low in the front. I didn’t get it then. I started to “get it” when, at the age of twelve, a man tried to snatch me on my way home from summer camp and I was no longer allowed to wear some of the outfits some of the other girls my age were wearing. I was no longer allowed to play football with the boys because my own teammates were “tackling” me. Boys were looking at me differently and making comments. My parents were afraid for me to walk down the street by myself. See this body?
Yeah. I looked like that at twelve. With a C cup. Pleasurable to look at for men and hell on the mind of a child who just wanted to be thin like the other girls. The older I got, the worse it became. Dance costumes were a problem. My breasts got larger. And heavier. I covered up my butt A LOT. I had a Coke bottle figure but I was ashamed of it because I was tired of people looking at it. By the time I was 23 and life had caught up with me (that’s another blog), my breasts grew to a 42 DDD. I left them in the doctor’s office and never looked back. Sure, I’ve lost the rest of them since I started leading a more active lifestyle but I’ll put on a nice size A bra over these things and be done with it. But that’s me. As for my butt, it is STILL the topic of lots of discussion. And it was an internal struggle for me to accept ME. My body is what it is. But everyone can’t live with that. And that’s why cosmetic surgery is so popular.
In Knifed Up, one of the statistics that startled me the most was that MY age group (35-50) had the MOST procedures (almost half at 42%) done in 2013. Americans spent (wait for it) eleven BILLION dollars last year on face lifts, botox and breast augmentations. That doesn’t even count the money for tummy tucks and this new phenomenon of butt and hip injections (please don’t get me started on THAT one) or the black market. And it used to be in the African American community that if someone had plastic surgery, it was pretty hush hush or it was just something we didn’t do. And that’s not the case anymore. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, cosmetic surgery procedures for African Americans from 2005 to 2013 increased 56 percent. There is even a doctor who specializes in “ethnic cosmetic surgery.” Really?
Who’s the beauty standard? Who are we trying to look like? Who are we trying to impress? Are we still trying to compare ourselves to an image of perfection that really doesn’t exist?
I’ll be the FIRST to admit that this extra skin all around my stomach after being very overweight and having three children has made me want to pull out a hatchet and chop the excess skin off myself. When I sat down and thought of why, it was basically so I could show off my midsection to others. When I look down, I know what happened. And I had to get over proving how I good I could look to someone else. It makes for terrible pictures sometimes and I have been super ashamed of how people may think of me, especially as a trainer when they see all of my skin hanging. But it’s skin because I worked my BUTT off to lose the weight. It’s the same thing as having small breasts that don’t stand up. If that’s the price I have to pay for being healthy and active then I’ll take it. And I could fix it but as far as I’m concerned, I did fix it.
But I know it’s not that easy for everyone. Because the pressure is on. Social media has taken this thing to an entirely different level. But before you sign up to go under the knife, ask yourself, “Why?” I don’t mean the surface answer why. I mean the “come to Jesus type” of why. Somewhere deep down inside, did someone tell you you weren’t beautiful? Are you comparing yourself to an image? To someone you admire? Are you being pressured to look a certain way by a partner? For your career? Do you think you’ll feel better about yourself if you look better? Did you always just want big breasts?
In my opinion, the best fix is one to your confidence. A person who wears confidence in the uniform they were issued is THE most beautiful person on the planet. We can all be better in some way but whose idea of better are we aiming for and how far are we willing to go?
If no one has told you today, you’re amazingly beautiful, just the way you are.