I knew a woman who underwent plastic surgery in middle age. She’d been married to a local attorney until she’d surprised him with his secretary in flagrante delicto, as it were, in his office.
It was the eyes, mostly. For a couple of months afterward, she looked like a raccoon, which was mildly disconcerting, but she was a raccoon with class. I liked her before and I liked her after, although I haven’t seen her in close to twenty years.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why she did it. Still, if I’d had a vote, I’d’ve voted no.
I’ve written before about beauty and women’s faces. I think I posted it. I understand that my culture has conferred the beauty award on several specific archetypes. That’s cool; cultures always do that sort of thing. There are or have been cultures which prize enormous lips or asses, or even earlobes. Go figure.
But beauty, really, doesn’t have much to do with these archetypes. If you’re in love with a woman, she is flat-out beautiful, especially when she smiles. The beauty in her which shines through is powerful enough to transform what she shows you.
There are plenty of women, too, with culturally ‘perfect’ features who are not beautiful. They are not happy. Without radiance, it doesn’t mean anything.
Nine days ago, a San Francisco woman named Kerry Campbell told a national television audience on “Good Morning America” that she had injected her 8-year-old daughter, Britney, with Botox, to make her more competitive in beauty pageants.
Campbell and Britney appeared on the show. The photograph in the Chronicle has mom smiling and gazing in admiration at the puffy-cheeked but unlined Britney.
Turns out that Campbell, a recent resident of Birmingham, England, had told the British press about it in March, and stories had included photographs of the mother injecting the drug into her daughter’s forehead. Other photos showed Britney with ice packs on her face after getting the shots.
In keeping with the high standards of American television journalism, “Good Morning America” had her repeat the injection demonstration in its program.
Campbell says that she is a trained esthetician and that the use of Botox is becoming common in children’s beauty pageants –– which pageant officials deny.
I am saying that there is a direct connection between the cosmetic surgery my friend chose and the injection of botulinum toxin into the forehead of an eight year-old child, and you’re saying that I’m exaggerating wildly to make a point. Let’s see how wild.
First, please don’t misunderstand. I have nothing against plastic surgery. It’s a fantastic thing to be able to ‘correct’ deformities. But in this culture, to an alarming degree, not being ‘beautiful’ is to be deformed. You know what I’m talking about.
The objectification of women is old news, of course, but in recent years the sexual component has crept below adolescence. Nine year old girls are being taught that their human value depends on how flirty they can act and how soon their breasts develop. If that isn’t sick, what is?
More and more, we are seeing a confluence of accessories and pharmaceuticals; each is assigned a critical role in creating attraction and desirability. There are rules for looks and behavior, most especially for females, and we’ve got the products to help you. Pills and cuttings, the tools which rescue the ordinary.
If that is not so, then why are adolescent girls –– far more so than boys of the same age –– cutting and otherwise disfiguring themselves?
I’m old enough to remember a time when some of the more obvious sex role idiocies were on the run. Turned out that the culture was not going to back down. Instead of change, we got pervasive (and entirely fictitious) tales of ‘bra burning’; we got dyke jokes and a few more women elevated in politics and business, now lie down and shut up. We could not even get the Equal Rights Amendment, whose failure of passage is impossible to rationally justify.
Okay, I get it that sex roles have always existed, and that oppression arises from them, and that it ain’t just America. But until quite recently, the kids’ version has focused on a “little girls’ curls” sort of deal, maybe not terrific but at least not vicious. Today, kids have been sexualized to the extent that an 8-year-old girl gets forehead injections and has to be packed in ice to kill the pain, while her mother brags about it and demonstrates it to a national TV audience.
Look at me torture my daughter!
I’ve always hated beauty pageants because they celebrate and promote a commercial substitute for beauty. In the early ‘seventies, more than one Miss America contest was disrupted by feminists. I remember especially a woman clothing herself solely in cuts of beef, a vivid and on-the-money satire which scandalized the media.
Today, although many among the young resist it, there remains a stubbornly-held list of physical requirements if you want to be popular in America, and a fake ‘beauty’ is one of these. And so we get cosmetic surgery of all kinds, faces and necks, breasts and asses and bellies, anything which might lead to the right husband, or to corporate success, even to stardom, another witless ‘dream’ pimped by ‘American Idol’ and other circuses.
Beauty pageants for children border on child abuse, and they are on the increase. With them, the logic that if adults can have their features ‘improved’ so can children. The reasons are, after all, the same.