Humans don’t come with interchangeable parts. Sure, we can switch things up, like that nose and chin that came with your original birthday suit. But, if you opt for more deluxe models or major tweaks to the basic prototype, you’re into more uncharted territory. In the wild, wild west of plastic options, you can put in your order for bigger, better or just different. Or, you can choose to keep the original factory settings. It’s up to you.
Some adjustments may be necessary, some even a blessing. Replacing what breast cancer takes away bestows critical self-confidence to women already devastated by a take-no-prisoners disease. When terrible accidents play havoc with faces, skin or other critical pieces of our being, plastic surgery is a miracle. But, reconstructive surgeries aside, which get my 100% vote, some serious re-thinking is in order.
While we weren’t looking, our society seems to have ascribed to an if-it-ain’t broke/STILL-fix-it society. When The Graduate’s Benjamin Braddock was told “There is a great future in plastics”, maybe he should have listened. Though I’m certain cosmetic surgery wasn’t what his father’s friend had in mind, it was nifty advice.
Every year, more than 18 million people spend billions of dollars on cosmetic surgery. Billions. Think about it. To be sure, I’ve had my OMG mirror moments. You know those times when you lift your chin back where it used to be before gravity took over and it looks oh, so much better? Yup. Unfortunately, my bathroom mirror’s Broadway backstage lighting are a bit too Lon Chaney to be inviting. Still, I’d be lying if I didn’t say firmer skin, and erasing those little WTF lines between my eyebrows don’t annoy the heck out of me.
We are each our own worst beauty enemy.
Every one of us would prefer not to see that proverbial picture of Dorian Grey looking back accusingly in a mirror. Then again, it’s also a glaring reminder that no one escapes aging’s gleeful romp – without some cosmetic intervention. A lil’ liposuction, tummy tuck, eyelid lift, body sculpting and, of course, pumping up the girls. All that and more in a plastic surgeon’s bag of tricks promise to turn back the clock – or does it?
When Mrs. Potato Head was invented in 1949, she arrived sans plastic body; only neatly packaged parts you stuck in an actual ol’ potato. No matter how lumpy, lopsided the veggie, it was after all, merely a canvas for the imagination. Beauty was in the potato eyes of the beholder — and we all want to feel beautiful. From Botox to fillers and chemical peels (ouch), we yearn to feel like the best version of ourselves. But unlike easily swapping Mrs. Potato Head’s lips and noses, cosmetic surgery changes usually aren’t reversible. As often as people are happy with their mirror ‘after’ results, others are left with regret and no way to fix it. Oops.
I’m semi-embarrassed to admit I’ve never been drunk in my life, although there were one or two times I MAY have been pleasantly buzzed. One such night, I assured my BFF that, despite the happy wine-tinged demeanor, “I was me – just ‘better”. That explanation became a sound byte we still laugh about, but, the sentiment may also hold a ring of truth where modern age plastic is concerned.
I’m highly doubtful cosmetic procedures will ever be on my to-do list, but if it’s a game changer for others, go for it. While it’s not my jam, it might be someone else’s silver bullet. Still, you can’t miss the modern paradox. We’ve never had so many positive messages about #loveyourself, not being fat-shamed, not judging on appearance. We are walking banners for beauty is only skin deep and positive self esteem. Getting past the ‘blondes have more fun’ mentality is a lifelong uphill fight. (I’m blonde and that would not be my epitaph)
We seem to be hard-wired toward beauty which might explain the constant parade of models and movie stars projecting often impossible aesthetic standards. Even as a graphic designer, who totally gets photoshopping and filtered images, flawless skin, minus undereye circles or laugh lines still reels me in. Yet, plastic surgery has never been more popular. Aging stars have difficulty getting primo film roles. Mixed messages about getting better, not older still hasn’t yet transformed the job market for older women or the dating market of older men’s choice of women 20 years their junior.
There are many ways to improve Mrs. Potato Head and many, valid reasons why. The danger is in the messaging. We can spout positive mottos until we’re blue in our sagging faces but, if we are focused on fixing instead of accepting, our kids will miss the message – to devastating affect.
When America’s Got Talent’s phenom Susan Boyle stunned the audience with her powerful voice, few missed an underlying message. The voice that poured out of a frumpy, frizzy-haired middle age ‘cat lady’ seemed incongruous to society’s paragon of success and beauty. Though a poster child for age and appearance prejudice, the Scottish singer is now a household name and proof that you ‘can’t judge a book by its cover’. Since her momentous debut, she has indeed had a bit of nip and tuck, but it hasn’t changed either her reclusive nature or her talent. Susan Boyle is, and always will be, who she ‘Was Born to Be”.
Would we all love to have our best, youngest self back, the one without cellulite, wrinkles, or turkey neck? Damn right. Does cosmetic surgery help or increase body dysmorphia? I don’t know. With rapidly evolving technology, most procedures have become safer, and more dependable. Lasers and other non-surgical procedures have come to the forefront. Today’s cosmetic surgery magicians promise health benefit perks for problems like migraines, Bell’s palsy and back problems. Cool. But, also remember, as all good marketing does, that surgeries gone wrong take an invisible back seat to valid psychological and medical improvements.
Even on the back end of youth, where your ‘back end’ is no longer perky, I’m still a plastic surgery skeptic. In fact, I’m a complete wimp, and a cheap one at that. As tempted as I might be by plastic possibilities, I’d probably settle instead for those neat, DIY Snapchat filters. If my angst already includes falling off a curb and breaking a bone, I’m not exactly the best candidate for any elective surgery.
The bottom line (and not YOUR bottom) is to #loveyourself and go from there. If you still feel a need to smooth, shrink, or tuck a facet of Mother Nature’s creation, have at it. Just think carefully, do your homework, examine your desires and for God’s sake, know when to stop. If you can’t move your face, wink or are scarily unrecognizable, gulp, you’ve gone too far.
Every human on the planet yearns, more than anything, to be told we’re loved. We want to be loved for who we are, not where we come from, how old we are or what we look like. We want it reflected in the faces of our dearest friends, our families and of course, our significant other. As I write this, I feel, even more acutely, the loss of the guy who mirrored to me that despite a (rare) absence of make up or a wet seal head – he loved me beyond.
Mrs. Potato head is still cherished in the hands of kids who couldn’t care less that her body is not the stuff of mini-skirts. At 69, some might think she could use a facelift. But she’s made it this far with her own individual personality. She’s totally herself and, with a bunch of cool accessories, she can be anything from Princess Leia to a Super Hero – or not.
After all, Mrs. Potato Head is loved just the way she is.