June 26, 2011

Happy Graduation, Honey–Europe or Lipo?

“Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea,

You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!” – Dr. Seuss

Graduation gifts used to include things like jewelry, a hi-tech gadget, a trip abroad, or maybe even a new car if that’s in the budget.  These days, the question is, new breasts or a nose job, and which one is more appropriate as a graduation gift. When I was growing up, I was relentlessly teased, called every anti-Semitic name imaginable and even dreamed of having my nose reshaped into something less Jewish and more American. At the time, “Ethnic Rhinoplasty” wasn’t in vogue, and my delusional dream quickly lost its luster. A lot has changed over the years—these days it’s common to surgically refine or remove one’s ethnicity with plastic surgery. In some cultures, it’s even considered a rite of passage. The desire for teens to alter their looks isn’t new, though: In 2005, the NY Times wrote about the surge in Botox treatments among young adults. At that time, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS),

People from ages 19 to 34 had 427,368 botox procedures; 100,793 laser resurfacing treatments; 128,779 injections of hyaluronic acid (Restylane or Hylaform); 29,160 eyelid surgeries; and 1,094 face-lifts.

Though recent studies show a drop in procedures, there is a still a desire to be wrinkle-free in an effort to defy the inevitability of aging. In fact, a new survey by ASAPS shows “more than half of all Americans regardless of income approve of plastic surgery.” As disturbing as it is, this trend of parents giving their grads the gift of surgical “enhancement,” is really part and parcel to this growing shift toward homogenization.

Certainly, for some teens, plastic surgery can be positively life-changing. For example: a child who’s subject to excessive teasing because of an severely misshapen ears may positively benefit from otoplasty; a burn victim can return to relative normalcy with appropriate plastic surgery; a breast reduction can allow a young girl to exercise without neck and back pain. On the other hand, what lies beyond what’s necessary for some is the skewed perceptions of beauty and perceived normalcy inadvertently thrust upon teens through social and mainstream media.  The innate dissatisfaction with how we look contributes to how we meet the world. To really illustrate this, we can look at the recent uproar that came about when a mother defended her decision to give her 8-year-old daughter Botox injections. Makes you wonder: What 8-year-old has wrinkles? Better yet, what 8-year-old is even aware of wrinkles?

Now, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS):

Statistics gathered over the last several years indicate a decrease in the overall number of cosmetic (aesthetic) surgeries of teenagers (those 18 and younger) having cosmetic surgery, with nonsurgical procedures including laser hair removal and chemical peels being the most popular in 2010.

These statistics are both good and bad. I mean, the fact that less invasive surgeries are on the decline is certainly positive, but I am concerned about the remaining high numbers of girls seeking these procedures.  We know teens are up against extraordinary pressure to look and be a certain way–some of it is normal adolescence–but when parents start giving their kids gift certificates for a new nose or new breasts, the lesson becomes less about self-esteem and more about trying to attain the pop-culture paradigm of perfection.

If we start by parenting our children with this idea that they aren’t enough, we end up sowing the seeds of self-hatred and dissatisfaction. Instead of laying a foundation of confidence and positive self-esteem, we end up paving a rocky road to negative behaviors, which inevitably contribute to disordered eating and eating disorders alike. This is a wonderful opportunity to look at what messages we are trying to give our kids. Growing up is tough; let’s not contribute to the social tyranny by fanning the fires of social awkwardness.

Bottom line? There are far more appropriate gifts for your teen than going under anesthesia and accumulating scars, no matter how small they are.

Originally posted at Visions Teen and revised for Feminist Fatale.

Image courtesy of Sarit Photography

December 9, 2008

Baby foreskins to keep you looking young and radiant.

I always marvel at the rituals women engage in to attain an unrealistic image of beauty from the expensive to the strange to the torturous. From the grueling workouts that can last hours (often several times a day), the diet pills that elevate the heart rate and, often, gift the woman with hemorrhoids, the laser facials, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, incisions, suctions and stitches.  From removing digits from one’s toes to fit into pointy toed high heels to anal bleaching to “vaginal rejuvenation,” women “voluntarily” pursue new ways to maintain their youth, size and beauty.

The recent article from the Mail Online introduces another option for women to employ in maintaining radiant, youthful skin: injecting skin cells from babies’ foreskins into the face.  It claims to be permanent and does not need “maintenance” fillings like Botox and Restylane.

I can’t help but flash on that scene in Fight Club where Tyler Durden recycles the fat liposuctioned from women’s fat and sells it back to them in soap. As the article points out, the baby foreskin is simply discarded so why not use it?  Blech.

I have no doubt that once women get wind of this option that they will pursue as part of their “beauty regimen.” After all, women are sent thousands of messages daily that they must maintain a youthful appearance or risk losing value in the culture.

The following quotes cited in the article speak volumes:

Certainly Karen Mollison is thrilled. ‘It has made a huge difference to me. I jumped at the chance to take part in the trial. I had the first treatment in May and the second in August.

‘I feel wonderful. After years of embarrassment, I feel free. I’m even dating again and I never thought that would happen.’

October 1, 2008

Judge claims that Sharon Stone wanted to Botox her 8-year-old son

Filed under: Body Image,Gender,Media — Tags: , , , — Melanie @ 11:43 am

Is your child plagued with foot odor?  Choose Botox.

Read here and here.

September 24, 2008

Virgin waxing and botox babies: the cash keeps flowing

Filed under: Body Image,Media — Tags: , , , , , — Melanie @ 11:50 am

The New York Times reported on the newly emerging phenomenon of young women seeking preventative measures for the inevitable impact of the aging process in 2005.

“Did you hear about the 19-year-old girl who had botox injections to stop the crinkling around the eyes when she smiled? Or the 26-year-old beauty editor with a porcelain complexion who went for laser treatments to prevent sagging skin and sun spots from appearing in the future? Or the woman in her 20’s who, alarmed at the incipient folds forming at the sides of her mouth, made the rounds of top Manhattan plastic surgeons until she found someone willing to give her a face-lift?

Welcome to the Freeze-Face generation. Its members may grow up, but they won’t grow old. These cryonic enthusiasts aim to put themselves on ice while they are still smooth, not when they are as creased as Walt Disney. Many of these cryon babies have boomer moms who sunned and smoked with abandon, who, if they thought at all about living past 30, imagined themselves looking gorgeously weather-beaten like Georgia O’Keeffe. For their daughters’ obsession, you can credit or blame those same boomer moms who ran screaming to the plastic surgeon when their faces turned out more Keith Richards than O’Keeffe.

You can also credit, or blame, the face doctors who lure women in with an ever-changing menu of sexy rejuvenating treatments. But whatever the reason, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, last year people from ages 19 to 34 had 427,368 botox procedures; 100,793 laser resurfacing treatments; 128,779 injections of hyaluronic acid (Restylane or Hylaform); 29,160 eyelid surgeries; and 1,094 face-lifts.”

Recently, Viktoria, turned my attention to the recent article in Marie Claire entitled, “Beginners Botox.”

“On the eve of my 29th birthday, I got Botox. Let’s just call it a present to myself ($250 is a lot cheaper than the latest Louboutins anyway), a sanity-saving panacea for the panic of seeing a new decade so close on the horizon. Wanting to stop time, I found myself on a recent morning sitting on the edge of a paper-covered examination chair (the business-class version of what you’d find at the dentist’s office), with dermatologist Dr. Francesca Fusco scrutinizing my forehead while she asked me questions about my job and family and told jokes to make me laugh – all so she could watch how my face naturally moved. Then, four quick pricks later, I was done…

“If you ask a 13-year-old when people get old, they’ll say 30,” says Pennsylvania psychologist and dermatologist Dr. Richard Fried. “We’re bombarded with unbelievably unattainable images of airbrushed models and celebrities, so we all look into a circus fun-house mirror whenever we see ourselves. The human tendency is to accentuate the negative and minimize the positive. We’ve been sold a very destructive philosophy that somehow when you’re past 30, you start deteriorating. Any thrill, passion, or excitement has fizzled, and you’re just biding time until you croak. Doing something as simple as Botox can be enormously liberating and help fight the negative messages.”

It’s no surprise I’m not alone in my quest for eternal youth. In 2007 almost 400,000 Botox procedures were done on patients ages 19 to 34, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Chapas estimates that 15 percent of her Botox patients are in their mid- to-late 20s. And Liz alone has convinced at least four other 20-somethings (not counting me) to submit to the needle.”

The author clearly acknowledges the impact of our cultural environment that designates 30 as “old” and cherishes youth at all costs.  So much so that younger and younger women decide to inject, pluck, pull and go under the knife earlier and earlier to avoid aging all together.

This trend of targeting younger and younger women and “educating” and training them to abide by the unrealistic and increasingly difficult measures outlined by the beauty ideal is evident in the trend of “virgin” waxing and other professional beauty services for prepubescent girls.

Jezebel reports:

“1. An eight-year-old receives a bikini wax.
2. A ten-year-old gets microdermabrasion.
3. Numerous children under ten get highlights.
Funny you should ask! This is not dystopian work of satirical science fiction. (Though there is a stylist who finds himself in a sort of Guy Montag type of role when a woman asks him to relax her 12-year-old’s “beautiful, wavy hair.”) (He now “hawks an all-natural product to moms who want to lighten their five-year-olds’ locks; applied daily, it brings out subtle highlights.”) No, this is a story in Philadelphia magazine, a place I used to work in a city I used to live, a city that always seemed disarmingly normal and unmaterialistic relative to my current place of business. So reading it was kind of personal for me, especially since I know its writer, Carrie Denny, and I have to say, it was weird reading sentiments of such earnest dismay as “Without the ugly years, when do you learn to accept yourself?” coming from her.”

To read more on “Pretty Babies,” click here.

Simply scan the internet and you will come across advertisements that provide services for pre-teens. Browse the themes for children’s birthday parties and you will come across numerous sites offering make-over and fashion parties.

Don’t get me wrong, I painted my nails and put on make-up as a young girl but the final product was much less serious.  I remember peeling the polish off the skin surrounding my nail bed.  It was role playing in good fun.  The stakes have dramatically increased and should not be taken lightly.

In the end, the only ones benefiting are the purveyors cashing in on the insecurities of younger and younger women.