Saturday, February 7, 2015

Plastic Surgery: An issue of insecurity or patriarchy

Surgery Junkies by Victoria Pitts-Taylor uncovers perspectives on plastic surgery that I have either not been exposed to, or were framed in a way that made me think differently. The reading also forced me to ask myself a lot of personal questions on where I stand with plastic surgery; as a woman, as a feminist, as a young woman who can sometimes feel insecure about her body.

Before this class I never really thought about plastic surgery. It was for rich women in California who wanted to change their bodies in order to be more sexually appealing. Yea, I didn't like my nose or I thought my boobs were too big but it was never something I thought about. The first personal experience I had with someone considering plastic surgery was my best friend freshman year. We shared similar problems about finding stylish clothes that fit our boobs, problems with running, and problems with feeling fatter. One day she revealed to me that she was considering getting breast reduction surgery and I was shocked. Just because we didn't particularly like our boobs didn't mean we should change our bodies... should it? At the time I thought it was maybe unfeminist of her to not accept her body and to let society tell her what it should like.

This class has forced me to think a lot more about body modification and why some things are culturally accepted and others not. Why can't I think of plastic surgery as simple body modification that simply enhances one's body. After reading the book, I asked a couple friends that if they were given an opportunity to have free plastic (and maybe forced) what would they have done. It made me think what I would have done and if it was a free (and perhaps a painless process) if I would engage in plastic surgery to fix my insecurities, to modify my body to be more beautiful. Surprisingly I found that the answer might be yes.

However, I think I have a problem with plastic surgery because what it says about society rather than the people who get plastic surgery. The percentage of women who get plastic surgery is grossly disproportionate to men and I think that says a lot about beauty standards and pressures for women. We live in a a patriarchal system that  constantly tells women that their worth is based on their appearance and what is considered modern and culturally "sexy." I dream of a world where plastic surgery has a minimal existence, not because I think it is a bad or inappropriate practice but I hope that we can live in a society where all bodies are appreciated as is.

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