The price of beauty

14 Feb

I don’t consider myself’a vain person.  But in the last two years, I’ve spent more than $20,000 on physical ‘enhancements’ – medical procedures to make myself look better.  What have I spent the money on?  Laser eye surgery, and dental braces.  My family keep asking me ‘What’s next?  A boob job?”.  To which I sniff ‘Of course not’.  In my view – people who undergo boob jobs, nose jobs, facelifts and botox are in an entirely different category.  Until now, I have judged those people badly.  I have judged them as being vain.  Am I a hypocrite?  After all, have I not suffered physical pain and paid inordinate amounts of money in search of physical attractiveness?  Perhaps it is a double standard.  I am still unsure.

My procedures were entirely voluntary.  Strictly speaking, there were no medical reasons to undertake them.  Purely and simply, I got my teeth straightened because they had become so crooked they were making me self-conscious.  You could argue that straighter teeth are easier to clean and therefore less susceptible to gum disease – but – who am I kidding?  That’s not why I got them.  I go them because my teeth were getting to the point where I felt I had to cover my mouth when I smiled.  And I smile, a lot.  As for getting my eyes lasered, there are many more reasons – my dislike of the ‘look’ of glasses was certainly one them.  But it was also about the hassle of glasses – having my baby grab them off my face, not being able to lay my head on my husband’s chest without having the frames dig into my head, red marks on my nose, seeing the world through a ‘frame’.  I could go on.  Even though I wore them every day for 16 years, I never considered myself ‘the girl with glasses’.  I took them off in every photo.  I’m sure in the future my children probably won’t believe I wore glasses – the photo evidence won’t be there to prove it.  So the chance to rid myself of the ‘four eyes’ tag – and start really living as I saw myself – was ultimately very attractive. In my view I did these things to boost my self confidence.  There certainly was pain involved.  The braces cut my tongue and gums – and the soreness of the teeth being pulled in new directions was bad at times.  The laser eye surgery also caused short term, but quite intense discomfort.

I can imagine the reasons that people have plastic surgery might be very similar.  They, like I, would claim it’s not about impressing other peoplem, it’s about feeling better about yourself.  But I think that’s a convenient explanation.  It denies the truth.  And the truth is this.  Beauty lies only in the eye of the beholder.  So, if you’re trying to make yourself look more pretty, it can only for the benefit of other people – after all, you spend more time with people, than you do in front of the mirror (I hope!).  Funnily enough, since having my ‘procedures’, very few people have actually noticed my teeth or my eyes.  Is that disappointing?  No.  I do feel better about myself.  I do feel that I have changed the way people see me – albeit in a subtle way.  It’s also changed the way I see people who go under the knife.  It’s certainly not for me.  I still think injecting foreign substances into your body or taking to it with a scalpel is more extreme than what I’ve done.  But I can see the similarities between myself, and the plastic surgery camp – have we not both paid a price to improve our looks? 



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