Plastic surgery has legitimate uses. Nobody is denying the great good that organizations like Operation Smile do. But somehow I think fixing actual physical deformities - and I'm not talking a "deviated septum" Ashley Tisdale - is a very small percentage of the billions of dollars of plastic surgery done in the US every year. The NY Magazine article, "The New New Face" examines the art of facial fluffery but leaves this one important question unanswered: Who should have plastic surgery done? Or rather, who shouldn't have it?
A 15-year-old had prophylactic surgery to prevent an eating disorder. (Yes, I know you're all now thinking of condoms but "prophylactic" actually means any medical procedure or practice done to prevent a disease or a condition. You'll thank me someday.) In this piece on The View, via Jezebel, the girl and her mother talk about how no matter how well they eat or exercise, they still have a "tummy pocket" of fat. (Note to girl: that's what's called being a woman. Ignore your mother, we all have it.) The mother says she was worried that her daughter would develop an eating disorder trying to lose the "pocket" and so she took her in for a breast reduction and tummy lipo.
My thinking is that if you are going to remove something to prevent an eating disorder, you'd better do a lobotomy. All this surgery does is reinforce to the poor girl that society's standard of beauty trumps her own and that she'd better conform or they'll cut her open again.
But the money quote of the segment goes to her plastic surgeon, the good doctor Ivan DaDollars
"I think the reality is that standards are set for how people look. By people, by the media, by TV shows and magazines. And not everyone is blessed with the right looks. [...] And for something that's easy to change. Well, it avoids a lot of difficulty at school. [...] My greatest role as a plastic surgeon is to level the playing field. To give those children who are disadvantaged a chance to look better."
I don't know about you but when I think of physically disadvantaged children, I think of fixing cleft palates not shrinking Cheerleader Barbie from a 0 to a 00 so her tummy won't bulge after a big lunch. I'm not trying to be hard on the girl (which is why I'm not using her name here) as she seems to obviously be a product of her environment and really is quite brave for being so honest about it all. But she screams "advantaged" in every way. She was a petite, pretty, rich girl with a flat stomach before the surgery and now she is a petite, pretty, slightly-less-rich girl with a flatter stomach.
Also, I'm not sure how everyone else seems to have missed the life-is-not-fair lesson, as I got it etched into my brain firmly by middle school, but there is no such thing as a "level playing field." The doctor isn't leveling a playing field, he's lining his pockets.
Take-home moral: Rather than change the effed up standard that is making teen girls feel badly about their bodies, change the girls! Brilliant!
How to combat this insanity? Here's one way I loved.