Recently I read a blog post in which the author openly described the process of her considering plastic surgery on her nose so to improve her looks. My reaction? A blog post-worthy comment. I was so inspired because I have had my own troubles relating to my nose and to other parts of my body. This post is a further exploration of my thoughts and feelings.
I cheer for everyone who chose to not use plastic surgery but to accept themselves as they are instead. Or to at least aim to learn to accept themselves. Getting to self-acceptance takes a lot of practice, I acknowledge that.
I cheer for this because the positive effects of plastic surgery are so little. I would almost say that they are insignificant to the unwanted side-effects. The only positive thing about it is the change in looks, really. The other effects include: physical stress or damage, financial costs, negative side-effects that are associated to making the surgery happen (e.g. carbon emissions, involved money flows). Then there’s the psychological effects of the change in looks. Let’s explore how positive these are.
The desire to look differently than you do, is a symptom of the notion that you are not good enough as you are. It is a symptom of our culture in which especially women are being cultivated to be in constant competition with each other. It is a symptom of a culture in which women are taught that their looks are their most important asset and that these looks are never good enough.
How I see it, by physically altering your body through plastic surgery only for your looks, you reinforce these un-truths of our culture, and you thereby maintain the need for others to have surgery too. And you maintain this need as perceived by yourself.
We tend to think that something is wrong with us and we look for a quick fix.
There is no quick fix. We can alter our bodies all we want, figuratively speaking, but it won’t fix us. It won’t make us happy. The only thing it does is allow for a shift in our focus: is the nose fixed? What about the other parts that aren’t good enough?
Here is my story:
I used to have trouble accepting my nose as it is. I perceived a responsibility to look a certain way and my nose looked different. I felt responsible for my nose looking different. I expected others to hold me responsible for it, as if I had chosen it and I had chosen wrongly. I felt like apologising for it, like telling others that I agreed with them and did not like my nose either. As if liking my nose would mean that I had bad taste. I was pressured by our cultural idea of beauty to dislike my nose.
Now I find these experiences very shocking. Thinking about it makes me feel so much love and compassion towards myself and my nose. Clearly my nose was underappreciated all along. My nose functions perfectly and I am so thankful for that. I do not have to apologise in any way for my physical looks. People can look at me and think all they want, but I am not apologising. I love my body.
I like how our bodies and faces have different looks. I like how this has a great social function: it helps us to tell each other apart. I love how we can recognise each other so easily. I love how others can recognise me by my distinct facial features. Also, I love observing people, especially faces, and seeing what makes them themselves. It is one of my favourite things to do, actually. Our different looks are somehow expressions of our different personalities and qualities. On top of that, each of our bodies is amazing in itself.
Our diversity shows us the way to acceptance of all there is. If we are triggered by something we see, this trigger can be seen as an invitation for us to learn to appreciate the thing we are triggered by. If we judge a certain nose as ugly, which is the example in this post, this can be an invitation for us to learn to appreciate this nose. This new-found appreciation can help us to appreciate all other noses. It goes even further. If we can learn to appreciate one nose we did not like before, this means we can also learn to appreciate other things we do not like. It can be a gateway to a more loving life.
As mentioned before, using the ‘quick fix’ of changing the physical part of yourself that you do not like to ‘more accepted features’, actually strengthens the thought patterns that make you dislike parts of yourself and others.(more…)