In praise of the plastic surgeon’s knife …

It appears the season for perfection-bashing is upon us again, my friends. We are rising up against the need to be physically improved and are firing potshots at those who seek ways and means to achieve such. Oh good.

Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson has called for advertisers in magazines to come clean about images that have been digitally enhanced, namely those of female celebrities who aren’t in the first flush of youth having the tracks of their years airbrushed away. Jo wants to see it all; wrinkles, open pores, blood shot eyes … you name it. We don’t want to see blemish-free skin in our over-priced magazines …. we want acne-scarred reality! So all you Photoshop experts out there may find half your toolbox redundant shortly if Jo gets her way.

This suggestion has opened up the floodgate that spews forth periodically in this country on the subject of cosmetic surgery and the various procedures offered.

It’s barbaric. You should live with what nature granted you. Even if they do swing around your knees after breast-feeding. That crooked nose that was the cause of much playground teasing? Get over it.

The theory that supports this notion in a rather wobbly manner is that “enhancements” (be they invasive or not) perpetuate the need to be physically perfect, which in turn fuels the growth of conditions such as anorexia and the like.

So potentially if I were eighteen years old I might look at Andie MacDowell telling me “I’m worth it” in a magazine and think “oh my God she looks so great at forty-something and I look nothing like that” … and I’d rush off to part company with my lunch. Or it would affect me mentally to the point that my physical image became the only thing that mattered to me in life.

This is one subject that has wound me up like a watch spring for years, and here’s why.

When I was a child I ate every scrap of food my mother put in front of me. I was praised for it. I consequently became a plump little girl.

At the age of nine my mum announced I should be put on a diet.

In my late teens I had two bouts of anorexia that were not serious, but they involved restricting calories to four hundred and fifty per day. After a number of consultations with a psychologist it transpired that a rebellious phase I was going through with my Dad was to blame; the only control I felt I had over my life was to restrict my food intake. Couple this with the notion kicking around in the back of my head that I was a bit on the pudgy side, and you can see why I ended up where I did.

I had also been blessed with a less than perfect nose; it looked like it needed chiselling to smooth off a couple of bumps. Only twice did anyone comment on it, but I can tell you their names, what was said and the date they said it.

Whilst none of the above caused a total destruction of my self-esteem, they didn’t exactly nurture and cultivate it.

In my mid twenties I got into a conversation one day with a client (I had embarked upon a well-paid sales career by then) about her nose job. I thought “wow … I could do that …. I now have the money to change this damn-awful hooter ..” And so I did. I went to see my GP, he recommended a plastic surgeon of note who was local and I paid said surgeon to fix it.

Then around three years ago I paid another surgeon to fix my breasts. No implants, just an uplift.

This time I’d had just one comment about the offending body parts by an ex partner, after I had told him how much I had hated them since around the age of nineteen. He made a crass joke about them which in turn shattered what little sexual confidence I had at that time.

Now of course I know that I could have sought counselling for my obvious deficient self-image, but I chose not to. I instead opted for the permanent and non-equivocal solution of the surgeon’s knife.

Am I pleased with the results? You bet your life I’m pleased.

Am I now  “hooked on surgery” and selecting my next op from the extensive menu available? No!

My view is this … there were a couple of things I wasn’t happy with so I got them corrected. If I pranged my car I would take it to a reputable garage and get it put right; I don’t see the difference. My body is the vehicle I drive around in every day.

Yes it possibly does make me a little more self-obsessed than the next woman, but so what? Why do other women (predominantly it is women I find …) feel the need to lambast me and others like me? The only person I am hurting (temporarily) is me. Do I parade around after the event and tell women they are sub-standard because they can’t go bra-less? No!! I haven’t even talked about it publicly until today.

I feel no urge to tell them to rush to the hairdressers and get their roots done. I might think it, but I don’t say it because my philosophy is … and let live.

There is little I don’t know about the subject of poor self-esteem …I’ve had first-hand knowledge. I do think the time is right however to stop wailing on about the cosmetic surgery industry and to start instilling our young people with self-worth so that their image becomes secondary.

So if you’re looking to be perfect, that’s fine by me. If you’re looking to stay the way you are, that’s fine too. Now ….. please …. enough!

Let me end by making one last observation … the pre-op me would not have had the bottle to write anything like this.

And you can’t alter that, with a surgeon’s knife or otherwise.

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Filed under cosmetic surgery, middle age, photoshop, plastic surgery, relationships, sex, Women

12 responses to “In praise of the plastic surgeon’s knife …

  1. Hey you! You forgot to mention the informative session with the image consultant who coaxed you out of black and inspired you to go searching for your inner fox…joining together the dots to help you see the firecracker you could become!

    • debsylee

      Oh babe! I didn’t forget …. I was waiting for part deux, but you’ve beaten me to it 😉

      Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce Sharon Connolly, a woman ahead of her time in all things image-related.

      Sharon single-handedly persuaded me to ditch the dreary and take up the mantle of “sassy” …

  2. I read that Jo Swinson is the youngest MP at 28

    Let’s give her 22 years and ask her what she thinks then, shall we?

  3. Spacey

    Your post could just have proven the point (that our inner beauty is more important, if I understood it right)…I could only imagine what a 20 something woman with a few bad memories from her teens/pre-teens of some prick making a bad remark on her body part would do after reading this post! too bad, she would now be convinced that going under the knife is the only way out!

    cheers. ehh, keep up the good work.

    • debsylee

      Thanks for your comment Spacey.

      I hope that what she would do is to realise that there are options open to her. I don’t believe I actually advocated it for everybody; I merely stated that it had worked for me.

      I spent many years contemplating surgery, particularly the second time. I would recommend anyone else considering it to do the same rather than rush straight to the plastic surgeon’s consulting room.

      Forgive me, but I think you do not give young people the credit for working out for themselves what is the right option for them.


  4. What an honest, candid and refreshing post. You have certainly raised some interesting points here.

    There seem to be two themes to the post. Whether the media should be allowed to publish enhanced images, and whether an individual should have the choice to seek cosmetic surgery.

    To the first theme, I would say my preference would be to agree with Jo Swinson. Various studies have indicated that these images create a wholly unrealistic desire to achieve the same level of perfection. This is particularly true amongst teenage girls.

    To the second theme, of whether a person should be villified for having cosmetic surgery, I would say no. It is their choice. I would add a note of caution however. Cosmetic surgery, like any surgery, carries a certain amount of risk, and should not be taken lightly. There should also be psychological screening to assess if the person has other issues in their life for which the plastic surgery is being used to compensate. Plastic surgery is not necessarily the solution if the problem is a lack of self confidence.

    • debsylee

      Thanks for your comment Dom, and you too raise some interesting additional points for me (I sense a follow up post approaching …)

      In terms of the media’s unreleastic representations and how it affects young girls .. this undoubtedly does place more pressure to be physically perfect IF there is an absence of other aspirational examples .. Why do young girls think being gorgeous is the be all and end all? What are we doing as parents, as a society to demonstrate to them that how you look does not determine what you are?

      We live in a country that has appallingly low turnout rates come election time, and yet we’re obsessed with celebrity … what is going on?

      I think it extends way past a bit of airbrushing …

      Secondly a reputable and experienced plastic surgeon will assess potential clients when they come for an initial consultation to ensure they don’t have unreasonable expectations from the procedure.

      In my case it actually did result in a huge boost for my self-confidence, but pre-op my expectations were far lower and I don’t believe confidence was even a factor. What it did do was prove to me that if I wanted to make changes I had the power to do so. And it went on from there!

  5. Hey Debs
    A brave and honest post. Doin what feels good for you and leaving others to deal with their own responses…….if you’re happy with the results…..why should I be unhappy? Not my body, not my reasons, your choices! Keep them coming.

    Now, about that chocolate mousse! 😉


    • debsylee

      The strange thing is Alan that I’ve tended to find the ones who have a real problem with this are female ….

      Men definitely have more of a “live and let live” attitude.

      Thanks for your comments 😀

  6. Great post. I understand completely all the issues and again from a first hand position.


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