My Body, My Self
A Plastic State of Mind
To augment, or not to augment? That was my question…
A year ago, I left my sheltered existence writing in the English countryside to take a job working for two wonderful, down-to-earth plastic surgeons in Beverly Hills. I’ve never been the skinniest filly in the stable, but I’ve always had relatively solid self-esteem, positive body image, and a healthy awareness of my place in the female universe.
And then I moved to LA.
In my work building, a hop, skip and a jump from the Hustler store, and not two miles from the Playboy Mansion, I quickly discovered I was the only female employee who had not had plastic surgery. The only one. Women passed through our operating room in a revolving door of neuroses: this one undergoing her third surgery in 18 months because she couldn’t get the boobs just right; that one going in for the full Swan-style Bionic overhaul (lipo of thighs, stomach, flanks and knees; tummy tuck; boob job number two; cheek implants; and revision rhinoplasty); one of our very own employees obsessing that her quite lovely C-cup breasts were ugly and awful and needed to be redone (read: made bigger and perkier) immediately.
So then there’s me. I’m a AA cup on a good day (we’re talking microscopic, nipples-slapped-on-taut-skin, couldn’t-fake-cleavage-if-I-tried, prepubescent moundlettes of flesh here, people) and have been cursed/blessed with what might optimistically be called a JLo booty and Beyonce thighs. The term “pear shaped” was coined to describe women with bodies like mine, but, of course, variety is the spice of life, no? We come in all shapes and sizes, and women are not One-Size-Fits-All Barbies, and screw any man who passes me over because I don’t look like Suzi the Porn Star who lives next door! (This is LA, mind you. Porn stars do, indeed, live next door.)
But the truth is, seeing all these women fretting over their gorgeous bodies did a number on me. If they weren’t happy when they looked in the mirror, what kind of grotesque, misshapen, lumpy ogre must I be? I’d thought about surgery in passing before, looking at my naked body as I stepped out of the shower and imagining what it would be like to have slim, colt-like legs and glorious B or C-cup breasts-you know, breasts that were normal. Breasts that didn’t invite comparisons to the chests of 12-year-old boys.
Working in this funhouse, however, my passing, not-at-all-serious surgical thoughts suddenly became a reality. An opportunity clunked into my lap, and before I knew it, I had the doctor, the anesthesiologist and the nurse all agreeing to work on me…for free. “Do it, do it!” they chanted in the hallway as I passed them, expressing my latent misgivings. “You’ll be so much happier!” they chorused, shrugging off concerns that I would no longer feel like me.
The surgery date approached, and I began having trouble sleeping. One day, a week before I was scheduled to go under the knife for the Hollywood-approved body of my dreams, I had an epiphany. Someday, were I blessed enough, I would be mother to a child, perhaps a daughter. I would love this daughter no matter what, and would work tirelessly to bolster her self-esteem, raise her strong and proud, and make her fearless and confident in this nutso world. What would happen the first time playground or middle-school mean girls taunted my little girl about some imagined flaw, and I cheered, “You’re beautiful, just as you are. Not a thing needs to change.” Would she then look at me and say innocently, “But, Mommy…didn’t you have plastic surgery? Why did you need to change?”
It’s corny, to be sure, but it was a real stab of truth through my heart. I went to bed resolved to cancel the surgery first thing in the morning and slept well for the first time in weeks. And now, when I stroll down Sunset Boulevard for lunch, passing the scantily-clad Amazon mannequins in the Hustler Store window, I breathe a mental sigh of relief that I managed to escape that beauty hamster-wheel of perpetual unrest.
Surgery works for some people: I have plenty of family members and friends who had one small issue that bothered them their entire life, and they fixed it, and they moved on. They’ve never given it a second glance, and I truly believe, in that small way, they’re happier for it.
As for me, however, I’m okay, LA-be-damned. What I see in the mirror isn’t objectively perfect, but it’s me, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Just maybe, my future daughter would be proud.
Nadine Haobsh is a former beauty editor, having worked at Lucky, Ladies’ Home Journal, FHM and Jane. She is the author of Beauty Confidential and Confessions of a Beauty Addict, and keeps the internationally popular beauty blog, Jolie Nadine.