Why It’s Okay to Get Plastic Surgery
Ever been in a room full of strangers, lying on a bed peeing, trying to figure out what happened to your underwear?
That’s what happened to me after waking up from a three-hour breast reduction. I should note that I didn’t actually piss myself; while I was unconsciousness, some lucky person got to take off my undies and shove a catheter up me.
I had a breast reduction at 19, and it was one of the best choices I’ve made so far. I’ve never been one to keep my life overly private, especially when it comes to matters that excite me. And getting a boob job was, to me, about as exciting as it got.
I expected people to be a little bit shocked by my choice to reduce an area of the body that is lusted upon and generally approached with a “bigger is better” attitude. But what I didn’t expect was criticism and straight-up outrage.
“Oh my god! Why?” asked a friend.
“How dare you do such a thing!” slammed another.
“I won’t allow it – it’s unnatural,” declared a friend’s boyfriend, as if he had the authority to deny me the right to change my body to a type that didn’t conform to his standards.
You’re allowed to get plastic surgery. You’re also allowed to not get plastic surgery, because what you do to your body is your decision and shouldn’t affect anyone else. But what you aren’t allowed to do is shame people about their appearance, “natural” or not.
In a world where the standard of beauty is changing from long legs, big boobs and a size 6 waist to curves and wild hair, we’re still not getting any better at imposing standards of beauty on women. What we’ve done is merely switch from one ideal of what’s attractive to another.
Companies such as Dove and H & M release campaigns that promote natural beauty. But though they may think they’re being inclusive by showing what they call “real” and “diverse” types of bodies, they’re still promoting a specific standard, and by doing so, are ousting women who are naturally thin or who have chosen to alter their bodies through plastic surgery.
There are even those who now prefer to use the term “cosmetic surgery” to try and shy away from the negative connotations attached to plastic surgery: that of Barbies, overblown lips and fake proportions. But I’m gonna embrace the fake and hopefully the term into one with positive connotation.
In the US, breast augmentation is the most popular procedure, followed by liposuction and then nose reshaping. In 2015, over a quarter of a million women in the States went out and paid someone to make the lumps of fat on their chests larger. I paid someone to make my fat lumps smaller. Both circumstances are technically unnatural, but also totally acceptable and conditional to the individual.
Before I had my surgery, I was 5’1″ and weighed no more than 55kg. With size 8G boobs, they stood out more than a dancing banana in an olive farm. I found them particularly annoying when trying to do any exercise. As a dancer, I dreaded getting any costume that was strapless and backless and offered little room to hide the bra that I needed to wear for support. Any sort of acrobatic move would require one hell of an expensive, uncomfortable, giant sport bra and even then, there was no guarantee that my boobs wouldn’t pop out at any second.
For me, my choice to undergo surgery wasn’t purely based on appearance. Don’t get me wrong: I’d be lying if I said that looks had no factor in my decision. I’m young, so I want youthful, perky boobs and to be able to wear cute, sexy bras – not have saggy granny tits encased in the most unappealing, nude encasing.
I was fortunate enough that my parents forked the hefty bill for my breast reduction. But I know that’s not the case for a lot of people, and in Australia you’re looking to spend as much as over $10,000 for a boob job.
My cousin missed out on the big boob gene, with every female in our family displaying watermelons, she was left with grapes. We both wanted to alter our bodies but for her it meant she would have to pick up a cheap deal and hop on a plane and travel from a developed country to a developing one where she would be able to score breast implants in Thailand for roughly $4000 (give or take depending on how clean and sterilised the hospital is.) But with the smaller price comes the bigger risks, such as having a higher chance of getting an infection from abroad surgery.
From my own experiences, I found paying the extra price to undertake surgery in my hometown in a culture I knew and with my family there to support me to be worth it. But with roughly 15,000 Australians flying overseas to get plastic surgery spending $300m a year on medical tourism, clearly a lot of people disagree with me. Medical tourism may be a riskier route, but it’s also a more financially accessible one that makes it possible for everyday civilians who aren’t loaded to partake in what should be a mundane activity.
Though plastic surgery has picked up in popularity in the last few decades, it is not exactly a new concept. Surgery for aesthetic reasons has been undertaken from as long ago as the 1880s. Over 130 years: that’s how long there’s been a stigma against plastic surgery, and that needs to stop.
There needs to be an end to the constant judgement and criticism of other people’s appearances. Plastic surgery is not the villain; the real evil is our concept of what’s attractive. I can agree with natural beauty as a form of feeling beautiful in your own skin, but it shouldn’t make a difference if that skin just so happens to have been cut and altered. Because, for me, plastic is just as fantastic.
Photo by Kris Krug