I just finished reading an article in the New York Times that has given me resolve to never wish for cosmetic surgery again. “Is the ‘Mom Job’ really necessary?” by Natasha Singer. I feel like screaming, but I’ll try to keep my voice down.
Even before I had children, I did not love the look or shape of my body. Since I was 13, I’ve always had a poochy belly, huge saggy breasts, oddly square hips, and slightly lumpy thighs. I’ve always felt self conscious about these things, though not enough to do particularly much about it. I’ve been a runner on and off, and have kept my weight just at the top of “normal” on those ridiculous charts they used to have in the doctor’s office that tell you “if you are this tall, then you should weigh this much.”
After I had my three children, and my breasts grew from cantaloupe size to honeydew size, and then shrunk back again, and my poochy belly was a saggy, poochy belly with purple stripes, I was only a tiny bit more self conscious, but my husband kept reassuring me that what I had was still beautiful, just not the same. Like how a sunset is beautiful, and a mango is beautiful, but they are different beautiful things. At the same time, I always thought it would be nice to get breast reduction surgery when I was done nursing babies. I would finally feel normal. I would not distract every male in a 2 mile radius (OK, that’s my cute, jealous husband talking. I never really notice people staring, except in Latin countries). And the lower back pain would stop. And the neck pain that happens when I practice the piano or organ.
I never thought this surgery was a big deal, except for the miraculous change I imagined in my self image. Then I became a feminist. And by feminist, I mean a person who thinks females are good, smart, worthy, capable, and undeserving of societal stigmas that demean or prevent accomplishment. One such societal stigma is the idea that the female shape should ideally be long, gaunt, and bony, and if a female does not fit this shape, she is somehow lazy, stupid, unproductive, or there’s simply something wrong with her. Or even that she is a victim, having the “ultimate indignity” of saggy breasts thrust upon her as a result of her choice to create a child.
I have long resented magazines, television, and other pervasive media that perpetuate the idea that unhealthy bodies are beautiful. The sheer volume of TV shows with anorexic-looking stars infiltrates our minds and implants this notion that we, too, should look like those tiny girls. Yet, even as I know intellectually that I’m being manipulated, I fantasize about being so skinny that my thighs don’t touch when my feet are together, or having a concave abdomen to mount a cute navel-ring, even to have a flat chest like so many boy-shaped actresses.
And to prey on my poor self image, plastic surgeons are now marketing “the mommy job,” a package deal which includes a tummy tuck, a breast lift with or without implants, and liposuction. As Ms. Singer called it in her article, it is a “surgical cure for the ravages of motherhood.” The idea that bearing children causes deformity in the mother is so absurd, and the prospect of a “cure” for this aberration makes me want to move with my little girl to a different planet. Do I require a cure? Am I so defective that I need to be cut open and reconfigured?
I just read the article an hour ago, and have only just begun to boil about it.
Here’s some more.