Archive for the 'plastic surgery' Category

07
Dec
13

reclamation

reclamationWhy are we so obsessed with body image?  It doesn’t represent us, who we really are.  After all we don’t get to choose our bodies, mother nature does that for us.

There are men and women out there having dangerous surgeries or performing damaging self-treatments in order to obtain the “perfect body.”  In Korea and China painful leg-lengthening surgery, calf muscle removal and eye-lid surgeries are common.  In America breast implants, liposuction, facelifts, nose jobs, botox, chin implants, the list goes on and on.  All over the world women and men seek to alter their bodies so they reflect who?  Themselves?  Or some made up person airbrushed by an artist?

At the same time, there are men and women who are punishing their bodies with drugs, purging and self-mutilation because they don’t live up to that “perfect ideal body.”  Depression, self-deprivation and anxiety permeate the lives of people daily because of size, height, weight, color.  Will we ever be satisfied?  Will society ever accept nature?

We all conform in some way whether we’re aware of it or not.  The products we buy, where we live, the careers paths we choose –  most are strategically presented to us in order to  assimilate.  At the same time, ironically, it’s in fashion to be different.  We all want to be unique individuals and yet we are a society which does not celebrate those that do not look, speak or behave “normal.”

So how and when do we break free?  Maybe if we reclaim our bodies we’ll reclaim true selves.

 

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28
Oct
13

the prison for the mind

prison for the mindThe true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations which we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within us.   – Audre Lorde

Is oppression a case of mind over matter?  Or is it mind over the socially constructed self?  We know the truth, yet we continue to police ourselves to conform to the expectations of society.  Can we ever be truly free?

This quote was in the context of an article studying the internalization of inferiority of Asian American (specifically Korean and Vietnamese) women to white women.  According to Karen Pyke and Denise Johnson, authors of Asian American Women and Racialized Femininities: “Doing” Gender across Cultural Worlds, by adopting beliefs fed to us by the media which is predominantly controlled by white men, Asian American women tend to see themselves as the socially established stereotype.  As a result, they believe that the only way to achieve equality is through being something other than themselves.

This triggered a memory of a report I heard on the radio program “This American Life” which delved into the lives of some high school girls in South Korea.  What an English teaching American discovered was an infatuation with “beauty.”  This may not seem out of the ordinary for teenage girls, but the image of beauty originated from the West as girls were getting plastic surgery on their eyes and full length mirrors as well as scales were on every floor of the school to remind the girls to watch their weight.

No one is requiring or forcing women to aspire to these images of what is “normal” or “beautiful” and all women lie subject and victim to these oppressive standards.  Yet, society infiltrates the mind with suggestions until one unconsciously compares themselves to the established norm.  A prison for the mind where the warden is the individual themselves; could a plan for oppression have been better conceived or implemented?

Can we free ourselves from ourselves?  We hold the key.  We have only but to gather the strength to turn it and unlock the door to a new world.

To read the article “Asian American Women and Racialized Femininities: ‘Doing” gender across Cultural Worlds” by Karen Pyke and Denise Johnson visit:  http://irows.ucr.edu/cd/courses/232/pyke/femininities.pdf

To hear the radio program on “This American life” visit the following link:  http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/483/self-improvement-kick

21
Aug
13

Comparing or empowering?

comparing beautyYouth.  Through the years women have tried in a variety of ways (some drastic and dangerous) to maintain their youthful looks.  Why?  Could it be that society has deigned old age in women as unattractive?  Is it a reminder of better days gone by?  Does it remind one of the inevitability of death?  Perhaps all of the above.  The recent trend of holding onto the past is plastic surgery.

I personally have never been keen on plastic surgery, or any surgery for that matter.  Over the years I’ve had to a have a few surgeries, one which left a very prominent scar on my neck.  Ironically I’ve always thought it wasn’t that noticeable until I told a friend of some years what it was from and she said she’d wondered from the time we met but didn’t want to press.  Because of my experience associated with the scar, I have worn it as sort of a badge of courage, so I’ve never considered having plastic surgery.

Tonight as I walked my dog I bumped into a neighbor.  She was very friendly, had a lovely smile and long, beautiful blonde hair.  Upon noticing Sam’s missing leg, she asked about the surgery and I told her that tomorrow would be two weeks since the leg was removed.  Unashamedly, she replied by sharing that that was when she had her facelift.  I was a bit shocked by how casually she shared this information with me.  There were so many questions I wished to ask her.  Why did she choose to do it?  What prompted her to have it done?  Does she feel better about herself having done it?  Was it worth the risk?  Did she feel pressure from society to look a certain way at a certain age (she was middle aged)?  But all I could say was that she looked great.

All of my unanswered questions got me thinking…why do women feel pressure to take such lengths to prevent something that naturally occurs to everyone?  Why has society told women that they cannot grow old?  Or at least look old?  Why is age such a fearful and avoided subject for women?  Shouldn’t we celebrate the wisdom and battle scares, wrinkles and gray hairs we’ve earned over the years?  Then again, we should also celebrate that we have a choice and control over our bodies.  If someone feels better about themselves by having a face lift or any plastic surgery, that is their choice.

And I guess that is what it all comes down to: choice.  As long as women feel free from and not bullied by society to make choices which empower them, then that is what matters.  Women have the power to unite and give each other the support to look however we want, without judgment.  It starts with us.  Let’s stop comparing and start empowering!