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

September 21, 2010

Heidi Yourself? There’s an App for That.

This is just creepy. Plastic surgeon, Dr. Michale Salzhauer, launched a new app for iPhones allowing users to “Heidi” themselves by choosing from a menu of surgical treatments similar to the 10 procedures Heidi Montag endured while under the knife last year. This follows his previous app, iSurgeon, one of several do-it-yourself-first editing tools used by plastic surgeons to promote their services. Apparently, the plastic surgery industry has been hit by the recession and the ability to see what you might look like post-op is a way to strike up business.

In an age when younger women are seeking cosmetic surgery and the new horror show, Bridalplasty, the show that Jennifer L. Pozner calls “a headline-baiting reality show combining the desperation and body dysmorphia of Fox’s cosmetic surgery competition The Swan with the unbridled hyperconsumption hawked by wedding industrial complex series such as TLC Say Yes to the Dress, and WeTV’s Bridezillas and My Fair Wedding with David Tutera,” debuts on E! and even Heidi Montag has expressed regret about her procedures, the last thing we need is yet another way to bait women and profit off their insecurities.

Thanks to Karina O for bringing this to my attention.

December 14, 2008

Your happily ever after comes after the knife, baby

I’ve known for years that gyms are not health clubs.  As Lester Burnham declares in American Beauty, he works out “to look good naked.” And, that idea of “looking good” has become even less attainable without the “aid” of cosmetic surgery. Equinox Fitness is quite candid about it’s true aim with it’s tag line “It’s not fitness.  It’s life.”

The following ad makes a bold cultural statement about girls and women in the 21st century minus the insecurities, side effects, risks or money costs.

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.’