May 13, 2022

"I don’t think that the women who are staunchly against plastic surgery are worried about women’s health or self-esteem..."

"... I think they are motivated by fear that their pretty privilege — the benefits they get to enjoy for meeting those standards without the help of a doctor — is at risk. If beauty becomes democratized by more people simply paying surgeons for it, the proverbial finish line gets pushed further away. But upholding a limited body ideal and rewarding the cluster of folks closest to it isn’t the solution. Embracing autonomy and a variety of body aesthetics is. The notion of beauty is fueled, in part, by exclusivity. Those relatively few who have it are revered.... People with marginalized bodies are acutely aware of the consequences of not meeting the standards of physical beauty.... Fatphobia, transphobia and ableism are part of our daily realities, especially for women of color.... A 'natural body' movement that doesn’t include all of us is the real danger. We need to make room for weave, highlight and contour alongside wheelchairs, fatness and full 360 liposuction with Brazilian butt lifts."

From "What Women Who Criticize Plastic Surgery Don’t See/The 'natural' body movement is unfairly exclusive" by Sesali Bowen (NYT). 

This was published March 4, 2020. I'm blogging it this morning because of this earlier post, about black women getting Brazilian butt lifts. I wanted to add something about what I believed was the conventional wisdom — that surveys show that black women are generally happier with their bodies than white women are. 

I stumbled into this essay, and I wanted to make it a separate post, mainly because it's critical of the position I tend to take and I wanted to discuss it separately. I think people who want to look better ought to adopt wholesome, healthy habits and pursue physical and mental health, and feel free to express themselves individualistically. Don't spend money and go under the knife and strive to look more like some lady who has provoked your envy!

37 comments:

What's emanating from your penumbra said...

"People with marginalized bodies ... especially for women of color"

Life is bad. And it's especially bad for the people who complain the most.

Jersey Fled said...

I hate it when they add "privilege" or "justice" to normal everyday words.

wendybar said...

I am happy to look like me, and not the joker. It's one thing to get a little tuck...but when you change your looks so that you look 30 years younger than you are...it IS laughable. I think Betty White looked wonderful....joker looking actresses like Priscilla Presley...RUINED her looks. I hope it was worth it.

Birches said...

I guess I'm an anti-plastic surgery woman and the biggest issue for me is that I don't want my daughters to think they're defective. I want them to be happy in their own skin and if their mother isn't, and is actively changing the appearance they both share, what hope is there for a healthy perception?

Sydney said...

I agree with you. The underlying motivation for most cosmetic surgery is envy. Modern society is very good at stirring up that vice, probably since the invention of photography. A good portrait painter could make you look better than you actually looked, and a bad or mediocre portrait painter made everyone look the same. You can see the latter in portraits of the middle class from the 18th century, especially American portraits. The people all look the same. These days everyone can make themselves look stunning with filters, etc, but reality disappoints. If only butt were firmer, my nose smaller, my lips fuller, my cheekbones higher- everyone would love me and I would at long last be happy. Or even worse, I am such an ugly girl I should be a boy!

Christopher B said...

I'm sure I won't be the only one to notice the obvious contrast between this opinion of what people are supposed to do when they're uncomfortable with how society views any unaesthetic body and what they're to do when their body doesn't match what they want to do with their naughty bits, and how society in general is supposed to view both reactions.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

All of this falls in line with the ""you're all not good enough" crap that is sold to you by Hollywood and the press.

Jonathan said...

Don't spend money and go under the knife and strive to look more like some lady who has provoked your envy!

Do whatever you (legally and morally) prefer to do. If you want the power than comes with hotness and are able to pay for it with your own earnings, that may well be the best use of your money. Don't mind the scolds. Work your own problem.

M Jordan said...

Here’s my advice on how to be happy with yourself: Don’t be. And don’t be unhappy either.

All talk about the self is self-destructive. Fact-check: True.

Mark said...

So now nature = privilege.

PatHMV said...

“I’ve come here to help you. I have what you need. And my prices are low. And I work at great speed. And my work is one hundred per cent guaranteed.”

Sebastian said...

"I think people who want to look better ought to adopt wholesome, healthy habits and pursue physical and mental health, and feel free to express themselves individualistically."

Yes, but missing the prog point. Your ought is a form of white supremacy, and your individualism undermines the imposition of prog standards. The issue is not whether people can express themselves; it is whether progs can force the rest of us to conform to their body norms--e.g., approving of fatness and self-mutilation.

Lurker21 said...

So is it a class struggle between those born with "pretty privilege" and those who seek to attain it through body alteration? It doesn't sound like either side wants to dismantle the pretty privilege system.

Bruce Hayden said...

It actually makes sense. The subject of plastic surgery came up a couple of days ago - a bit in response to Ann’s post on breast reductions. We have really good plastic surgeons next door in Scottsdale. I told her that we could afford whatever she wanted done: face lift, tummy tuck, breast reduction. Nope. Her sister might need a face lift someday with her bowling ball face, but she had those high cheekbones, so would never need such. Etc.

Females of our species have been competing for male attention for eons. Tight clothes. Revealing clothes. Makeup. Lipstick. Push-up bras. Not all females, but a substantial proportion of them. In parts of this country a lot of Jewish girls apparently get nose surgery as a graduation present from HS. Others actually get breast surgery at that age.

rcocean said...

I really get tired of this sort of discourse and see it more and more in the liberal/left media and comments. To whit:

1) Proclaiming someone's stated motivation is a lie.
2) THen proclaiming, based on slim evidence, that their REAL motivation is X
3) THen attacking them for having motivation X.

For example, someone opposes aid to Ukraine based on fear of WW III. Liberal MSM then proclaims their REAL motivation is Love of Putin, being a Russian agent. then attack them based on that.

Now, this mode of discussion has even seeped into talking about women's surgery. The concern over health is fake. Its REALLY about status and exclusivity. All that is irrelevant. Are the benefits worth the risk? That's the only real question.

TheDopeFromHope said...

It's always the fatties, always the fatties.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't think it's good for people to be constantly on their phones seeing images of people in entertainment. It warps people's idea of what others look like. "Gosh, I'm pretty ugly." No, you look fine, maybe even great. Look around--what do people who are physically around you look like? It's no good having everyone compare himself to the tiny fraction of people who have to look especially good for work.

Joe Smith said...

The whole 'phobia' thing has go to go.

Nobody is afraid of fat people, gays, etc.

Find another word, please.

'...especially for women of color.'

This is parody, right?

It's been going on for years, but since this recent Roe kerfuffle, I've been hearing 24/7 how women, and especially 'women of color,' seem to be fucking clueless and unable to organize their lives. It's like they're blobs in society with no agency of their own.

I'm not a woman or a woman of color, so I really don't care.

I only care about helping people in my 'community.' People like me.

Politicians explicitly run on this platform and it seems to be OK for them to do so.

These are the new rules.

Joe Smith said...

Btw, poor ugly women would be against it as well.

Rich ugly women can afford to get help...

PM said...

1. Wasn't this once called 'The lucky gene club'?
2. The downside, cf: Jocelyn Wildenstein

ALP said...

I have been saying for years that all plastic surgery should be free to everyone. Free! Once we are all surgically enhanced and as perfect as we can be, we'll have no choice but to rely on our personalities.

Lucien said...

For the Woke the obvious answer is to make pretty people uglier. It’s based on the same principle as socialism.
Bring on the Handicappers General!
Finally a job the women of “The View” are qualified for.

Joe Smith said...

'I have been saying for years that all plastic surgery should be free to everyone. Free! Once we are all surgically enhanced and as perfect as we can be, we'll have no choice but to rely on our personalities.'

Obligatory 'Twilight Zone' reference...

rcocean said...

I guess if women think this will make them prettier, go for it. I don't get the whole "Big Butt" thing, but I'm just Joe Sixpack.

walter said...

It begins with "makeup".

Ahouse Comments said...

Once we are all surgically enhanced and as perfect as we can be, we'll have no choice but to rely on our personalities.

It used to be that "on the internet nobody knows you are a dog"

But no more. Now we have more pictures that we should of everyone.

Hint: Just because you take a picture of yourself doesn't mean you have to post it to the web.

Maybe we need to go back to the days of text only.

John LGKTQ Henry

Real American said...

the never-ending list of -isms and -phobias to create a never-ending stream of victims. Clearly, the government needs to get involved or something. Isn't that the solution to everything?

stunned said...

I am Eastern European, and grew up around women in my family who were masters of taking care of their skin, hair and bodies. I absorbed all their beauty secrets, and, when feeling nostalgic, still make my own facial masks. They wished to emulate Parisian style, worried about being thin. There was some smoking happening, mostly at the parties. They played badminton, tennis, biked, swam in the lake during the summer and walked a lot during the colder months. Because of my lived experience, Botox and plastic surgery seem grotesque to me, but if you grow up in an environment where you see your mom and/or grandma getting plastic surgery (or your dad getting the implants that make you taller, as mentioned in one of your posts), maybe you start feeling this is not a big deal. Living in the US, I have met quite a few women who had different types of plastic surgery procedures done, unfortunately, the achieved result would not persuade me to get one myself. There are all sorts of privileges in the world: having good skin, knowing how to take care of yourself, being ok with your appearance even if it's not perfect, and, also, being able to choose a surgical procedure to correct a perceived flaw if you wish so. I think it depends on how one perceives beauty.

Mark said...

Pat is right. It's all a scam. Ideologically, economically, etc. From the "progressive" perspective, they say they want "progress," but in fact, they are never satisfied. They accomplish their radical fundamental transformation of America, and then they start bitching about what they themselves have created. Just one example: They tell girls/women to hate their boobs for being too small and they are in need of implants; then they turn around and tell girls/women to hate even having boobs and they are in need of binding followed by chopping them off.

It is just one circular system of stars-on and stars-off machines of grievance and dissatisfaction, going round and round. All of it being pushed by the Sylvester McMonkey McBean's of the world.

And the sad thing is that he was right -- people never will learn.

n.n said...

The war between women. #MeToo

Scotty, beam me up... said...

Women who feel they need plastic surgery every now and then because they are concerned about their looks and not something like a breast reconstruction following a mastectomy need to seek professional mental health help. Seriously. Just like the majority (and maybe all cases of gender dysphoria) of children who want to be surgically altered to be the other gender are mental health cases. Many plastic surgeries can’t be undone if something is removed and surgeries to fix botched surgeries can and do make things worse.

Mrs. Scott is very comfortable in her own skin and has been all of her life (she is middle aged) and definitely since I first met her when she was 21 years old. She hasn’t worn pierced earrings in over a quarter of a century and probably hasn’t worn make up and lipstick since then as well. That is one of many things that I love her for is her natural self.

Kate said...

I don't mind plastic surgery. Aging sucks. Do what you gotta do.

I'm seeing younger women, though, choose surgery to become more beautiful. All of these women start to look the same. Same nose, same eye shape, same plumped lips. When I see their before pictures, they were pretty. But they were pretty because they were unique. Makes me sad.

Jupiter said...

You know, I appreciate all you women knocking yourselves out to meet my exacting standards of physical beauty. But the harsh reality is that I'm already married. So maybe you should settle down and make the best of the situation. Find some soy-boy who can hold an erection long enough to knock you up, and have some abortions together. Abortions are cheap, anyone who can gut a fish can perform an abortion. Why drag a surgeon into this? Attention is attention.

Freeman Hunt said...

This is like the guy from the other post who was 5'7" and thought he was short. At 5'7"! That's in the 25th percentile of men's height in the United States, so he was taller than a quarter of men, but thought himself so short that he had his legs broken.

People are judging the world through screens instead of looking around.

Freeman Hunt said...

90% of women are shorter than 5'7".

Steve Pitment said...

Rosanne is the only person I can think of who absolutely looked better after a face job.

ALP said...

Disclosure: I had plastic surgery last year - blepharoplasty. I have deep set eyes and never had much in the way of eyelids. Over time - my eyes have receded even further behind sagging flesh. By the time I got to 60 - I looked like I was half asleep all the time. Subtle effect but worth every penny.