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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lifts and Tucks

Thanks to Rockstar's Wife and Cris for the lead...

I am amazed at how accessible extreme makers have become. Reading people's blogs gives me social insight to how women perceive themselves. Being a physician, I have access to previous surgical history, feelings shared with me behind closed doors, and I can see the surgical scars.
I tend to see the natural beauty in a person. I feel a loss when I see a natural beauty so unhappy with themselves and seeking bodily change. Am I immune from wanting to look good? Nope, I am not.

I have done these invasive things to my body:
Whitened teeth
Color hair
saline to my veins
shave/pluck hair (as little as I have) (Americans in general are turned off by hair)
pierced my ears ( I have two holes on each lobe)
tiny weeny bit of blush

Pretty modest compared to some. The most invasive thing I have done is a facial peel. I have a very special friend that I've spent time with on Dermatology rotations. She zapped some leg veins for me in our 20's with good results. Now I am very happy in long skirts (even tough the veins never returned).

About 6 years ago I went back to her practice to observe and learn. I had bad melasma (mask of pregnancy) at the time. After she did a facial peel on a woman, we started talking about my skin and voila she treated me and put the the chemicals on my face. The next day when it began to peel, I felt very ashamed of myself. I felt humiliated and disgustingly vain. I had to deal with this ugly facial burn and the public. I dind't want to go out. Mostly I stayed home. My face screamed vanity. I didn't feel like me. And when it healed my skin seemed far more sensitive to exposure and irritants than ever before... but I had less dark spots. Ever since than I have really thought about what's the price to pay for looks. It's all a trade off. Everything has risks and benefits.

Reminds me of an older leader in a community group I am in. Severe sun damaged skin (freckles and marks) but no wrinkles, no double chin, kyphotic back balance by an oddly kyphotic shaped chest. I doctor in me wondered what "bone disease" disease she had to look so mishapped. It finally came out that she has had everything lifted and tucked; face, chin, breasts, tummy, odd fat distribution, botox... at least that much. We don't even know what a female human body is suppose to look like. I couldn't figure out what's wrong with her till she shared her secret. On TV no model or anchor woman ever has a flaw perpetuating the myth of the female body. If we saw a female au natural we wouldn't recognize her.

Some questions to ask before comitting to a cosmetic procedure:

Is it for spiritual principles?
Is it for hygiene? Or health?
Do you need general anesthesia?
Does livelyhood depend on it?
Is it permanant?

The "right" answer won't be the same for everyone.

I've come to the conclusion: One of my limits is general anesthesia. I am fairly certain if it requires being put to sleep I don't want it unless it is truly necessary like eye lid droop blocks vision. (Yes, I know there is lunch hour laser for eyelids and chins, now.) I don't want the risk of being put to sleep, the missed productivity from my life, or the humility. Another boundry I think about is if it involves a toxin going into my body--Is it worth it?

After several discussions on beauty came up this week on-line and in person, I asked my husband, Aren't you glad, I am not the kind of wives who always needs to have something fixed on my body (He would hate the time away from work this pre-occupation/ recuperation would cost!). I couldn't believe his answer. "In ten years, you'll want it all, too!" I take it that he thinks I am beautiful now, but doesn't think I'll like who I am in 10 years.

As I answer these questions for myself, I can only hope I am always comfortable with my body and how I age. One thing I fear more than a double chin or sagging breasts or ass is being an old expressionless, lady who looks like plastic and deformed. The immediate results might be pleasing, but what about 10 years afterwards. Once you begin, can you stop? Do you have to maintain?

I do know that my healthy female body can nuture and mother. My brain learns, thinks, and works everyday. My heart is compassionate. Those are the functions of a woman. That is beauty to me!


fitncrafty said...

Well said. Being that you shared that, I have two sides of the story in my life, the reduction, which I have never regretted(mostly because my back hasn't hurt since I woke up). I wouldn't consider that vanity.
The other, after losing 100 lbs and having all the extra skin, I really used to want to have surgery to remove the extra skin. I really don't know where that would have gotten me anyway. I don't feel the same anymore, I am sort of relieved that I never had the surgery.
The relief comes from the fact that years later my skin is starting to shrink itself. I believe that whole healthy foods has a lot to do with all the signs of aging that we complain about. The skin is a powerful organ and we need to treat it as such.
With that said, no lifts and tucks for me either.

Wife to the Rockstar said...

Great and wise post.... you have me thinking about a second post now. I have so much I want to say on this subject.

Tam said...


mamamia said...

Thank you for saying what many, including myself, need to hear. I was watching an old rerun of "The Patridge Family" and found myself quite shocked at how yellow and crooked their teeth were. We don't even know what "normal" teeth look like anymore. Braces were once used for a bite that would affect dental hygiene and health. Now they are a rite of passage. We teach our children at a young age that their looks are inherently wrong. We want to improve on nature from the very beginning.

Permission to Mother should be studying said...

Thanks all for your brave responses. We woman are overwhelmed with only one side of the story.

Carrie-I'd consider pain a medical indication. I'm glad to hear that skin can heal itself. Loose skin hasn't been a problem for me.... I'm eating super crunchy.

WTTR- This is only the tip of the iceburg. I have so much more to say too!

Mamamia- You are right about teeth too. Not all cultures believe in straight white teeth. Some leave them, some put gold caps with letters over their teeth, some carve them. Some cultures see braces as torture. I never had them, so I don't know.

I do believe that your teeth need to be aligned to breath properly and get oxygen and eat properly. But do they need to be "perfect." Probably not. I'm not sure. I'm not in a rush, but where I stand now is that I will have my kids teeth evaluated by a dentist we trust one day.

When my kids ask me "What's that?" pointing to my double chin, I've told them that's my bag of wisdom.

fitncrafty said...

Bag of wisdom! Hummm.... I have one too.. Pannus.. Oh my stomach! I must have a LOT of wisdom! that's good I need it to get through school!!

Permission to Mother should be studying said...

Grandma Pauline use to say what a long thin neck I had(I was 18!). I once thought I'd never have bags of wisdom... I was wrong.

Would you go to a doctor that looked 18, probably not. I'll keep my wisdom!!

crispy said...

One thing that I have noticed is that beautiful isn't the same anymore. People think that it has to be thin, blond and big breasts. Beautiful should be confidence in who you are, a happy heart that pours out onto your smile and contentment.

I think that we all have things that we would like to change about our selves. But the older I get, I feel comfortable in who I am. We shouldn't be cookie cutter/carbon copies of each other.

Thanks for posting.

pearly1979 said...

The only thing I would consider is a breat reduction and it has nothign to do with looks!

Allana Martian said...

Nice blog! I was going to ask you if you could remove the wart on the end of my nose, but maybe you would think I'm vain? :-) I think it makes me look witchy. Could it be a ball of wisdom? I have been thinking about the braces thing, too. Rebecca has two teeth that protrude from the sides of her mouth like fangs. I feel badly that I can't afford braces for her as all her friends have them already and will have perfect, white teeth in a couple years. But, 100 years ago, this was unheard of! Now it's almost like you aren't taking good care of your kids if you don't get them in braces! It pains me. It's my current dilema.

Permission to Mother should be studying said...

Well Allana, since I don't need to put you to sleep, I don't even need to numb the wart, I could ethically remove the ugly wart from your nose.

To my list of questions to consider before a procedure, I will add:
"Will it fighten children if I leave it?"


Red said...

In summer of 2005 I had a breast reduction. I am 5'2", 135 pounds and wore a 34-I sized bra.

Now only a woman can begin to fathom those measurements. I was a tiny woman...not overweight and had massive breasts. I hated them.

Am not a pole dancer and have been married for 27 years now. This was for me, and no one else. My huaband never wanted me to get it done, but that's a mans point of view. Let them carry around 5 pound breasts...EACH, and then come to me.

They took 3 pounds total. The recovery was decent enough, and I would do it again in a heartbeat...hands down!

Wendy said...

What a great post. I find myself criticizing my own body all the time based completely on what society says is "beautiful." I don't want my daughter to feel this way. It's so sad.

I have bought my girl a rather wonderful book called "Body Drama" written by a former Miss America contestant. It has real (sometimes "graphic") pictures of women...all kinds, colors and shapes without any touchups or photo-magic. It also answers so called embarrassing questions, like why do my feet smell, stuff like that. It also shows what some women look like in real life and then after photoshop gets finished with them. Amazing. I recommend it. And thanks for the little push.

Anonymous said...

Yay! I agree. I have struggled with being overweight since childhood. It is amazing how "society" reacts to my female body with its extra weight. I even had a student blast me on rate my professor .com because I was overweight! Amazing right? In my professional capacity, I see hundreds of women, college age and older. I am constantly amazed at how beautiful they are, and how ugly they feel. The more shocking statistic is how many socially beautiful girls tell me that their husband, fiance', boyfriend, s. o. is cheating on them! The reason that I mention this is that I think the main reason people are so concerned with their appearance is to be attractive to the opposite sex. Yet, I most often hear from these attractive women that their men are sleeping around. ::shakes head:: I honestly believe that the media and advertising specifically have much to do with this. Did you know that women didn't shave their armpits and legs in America until the 1940's when Gillete decided to expand his marketing to women?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that was me. C and M

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