I recently spent a considerable amount of time with the Kardashian family. Unless you have been living under a rock, (or banging two together to make fire like her new beau), Kim Kardashian just got married to Kris Humphries, a dead ringer for Neanderthal man. Y'all, I am positively convinced that he is the modern genetic link between apes and humans. Here, draw your own conclusions.
Anyway, I watched several back to back episodes of the Kardashian wedding on E! one rainy afternoon and evening (it took about 6 hours with all of the child interruptions, natch), and the one thing that I took away from it (other than the fact that like 5 third world countries could be fed for a month, for the cost of a wedding that at best will last that long) was the scene in which Kim and Kris Humphries announced to Kim's Mom that they intended to get married in three months. When Kim's Mom inquired as to what the rush was, Kris Humphries (the Neanderthal, you following me?) replied, "because Kim wants to get married while she is at her PEAK."
This just struck me to my core. I think EVERY bride wants to look her best on her wedding day, but to actually evaluate yourself, and then declare that you are at your peak physically, so you want to get married right away, is a such a bizarre motivation to me. I mean, it is one thing to hear your biological clock ticking, because that is a medical FACT that it does tick, but beauty, in itself, I have always understood to be subjective, not only culturally, but for the individual. I mean, what one culture thinks is beautiful is very different than what another culture may find attractive. Also, one may THINK they are at their peak, but when they look back at that photo where their gigantic ass is squeezed into a Herve Leger dress, accentuated by their faux hawk and hooker pumps, they may not look at themselves admiringly, but instead with disgust or humiliation. For instance, look at this photo of my friend, Cristina. She is 7 months pregnant and she is the epitome of beauty to me.
So, you see, beauty is subjective. Or, at least it used to be, before everyone started looking like The Joker, that is. However, given the times and the pressure that women have, to not only reach their peak, but then retain their peak, is at the very least, a daunting task, and at it's worst, addictive.
I mean, when were you at your peak? I couldn't really tell you when I was at my peak, but I could DAMN sure tell you when I was not.
Okay, on the subject of peaking, let's examine the wonderful world of plastic surgery. Is that what everyone is trying to do? Get back to their peak? It's worth exploring. Recently, I sat down with Dr. Jeffrey Donaldson, who is a plastic surgeon in town, who also happens to specialize in the "Mommy Makeover". This, my friends, entails a breast augmentation, a breast lift, a tummy tuck, and liposuction. It is exactly what the doctor ordered, so to speak, when it comes to what my body needs.
But, first, let's back up. A few weeks ago, Marcy Fleisher, of Fleisher Communications Group (http://www.fleishercommunicationsgroup.com/), contacted me to pitch me a few of her clients. One of those clients is Dr. Donaldson. I have been fascinated with the whole plastic surgery movement since it began, and not unsurprisingly, I have a lot of opinions and a firestorm of questions.
I felt like this story was a great topic for a post or posts, but Marcy and I discussed how there were no guarantees, and that I felt and feel that I have a responsibility to continue to call it as I see it, so that you guys can believe that what I am writing is genuine. In essence, I don't want to be anybody's whore. Except Brad's, I guess. Okaaaaay, that felt weird.
So, here is what I like about Dr. Donaldson so far. He is Board Certified in Plastic Surgery. He is well-educated (Ivy League, y'all, Holla!), and I like that he has opinions about some of the bullshit that is happening in his industry and he is not afraid to speak out about it. Check out this link from Dr. Donaldson's website that describes the education and medical training that deserves the distinction of being Board Certified in Plastic Surgery.
Okay, here is what happened when I arrived. I was all harried and rushed, and for once I was not late, but of course, I arrived with blank paperwork and I had NO IDEA what I was going to write about and even less of a clue as to what was about to happen. The office assistant asks me to fill out the paperwork and tells me it will be $50 for a consultation.
I sat down to gather myself and was all WTF? I wonder if this is what journalists do. "Do you PAY now to write about people? Jesus, tabloids have just RUINED journalistic integrity entirely!" I thought to myself. I was miffed. I mean, if I haven't made it clear enough, I have no expense account, unless you count that change jar under the bathroom sink upstairs.
So ANYWAY, I discuss my point of view with the office assistant, and she goes and gets Dr. Donaldson. We have this awkward moment where I have to explain to him that I am not going to get anything done, and then we start this GREAT dialogue. My intention, it occurs to me on the spot, is to actually relay the experience of going to a plastic surgeon. I also think it is important to discuss the issues surrounding plastic surgery today. So, in essence, my mission is twofold, personal and professional.
I explain to Dr. Donaldson that I not only am a cynic of plastic surgery, in general, but that I, personally, have reservations about going under the knife or doing Botox because (a) I used to be in pharmaceutical sales and I saw a lot of products, including one that I was "pushing" yanked off of the market a year or so after FDA approval, when the actual patients were using the drug, and not just subjects in clinical trials, and (b) I have had three c-sections, the first of which, I hemorrhaged after, so I personally feel like my elective surgery dance card is full.
These two background circumstances uniquely qualify me to be a skeptic of this industry, but I also have many friends (most of them, really) who have engaged in either fillers, Botox, or elective surgery. Once again, I am the last virgin in my sorority house - the hold out. What I am saying is that there is an emotional element to all of this, of which Dr. Donaldson was nice enough to enlighten me on.
There was this sheet I was given to fill out, in which you are to check each box that applies to you, in terms of what you would like to get done. It is below:
|Don't worry. I, too, am continually amazed at how low tech this blog is!|
One of the issues that sticks in Dr. Donaldson's crawl (how descriptive is that, AND appropriate I might add) is the fact that you can go to Dental School and then "hang your shingle as a plastic surgeon" after one weekend seminar. Donaldson said that there is no governing body that polices this practice and that it is done all of the time.
Then, during these economic times, people are not only more desperate to make themselves more attractive (there have been a thousand studies on how attractive people are more successful and happy in general), but also maybe their economic circumstances do not afford them the opportunity to have something cosmetic done by the "best in the business".
These doctors may be legally protected to perform the procedures, but they do not necessarily have the medical background to anticipate or rectify complications that arise when these procedures or surgeries go awry. Then, because patients are vulnerable, they are easily taken advantage of, by certain physicians who capitalize on those vulnerabilities for their own gain. In my eyes, the risk/benefit analysis that normally is present in medical scenarios involving surgical procedures, no longer exists for elective surgery.
For instance, if a person needs, let's say, sinus surgery, a physician diagnoses the problem, recommends a specialist, who them performs the procedure. It is because there is a medical NEED. But if you take away the medical need, and you replace it with someone who is simply paying someone to tell them what is wrong with them, then, there are grey areas, that do not exist in a true medical scenario. Therefore, you need to not only seek out a professional that is certified and trained to do the elective surgery that you crave, but you must also need to trust that that physician will not take advantage of your insecurities for his own financial gain.
What I am getting at, is that a physician who performs elective surgery, or botox, or whatever, is in THE POWER POSITION, and you need to be aware of that. That is why I decided to take on this assignment with Dr. Donaldson. When I told him that I was clearly a "hot mess" that could benefit from any and all of the checklist he provided, he responded, "It is not MY job to tell you what you need. I treat people who come to me with something that they are willing to endure surgery to change about themselves in order to enhance their self-confidence and quality of life, in general." Let's be real. I am paraphrasing. I brought a notebook, but forgot to write anything down because I was so enthralled with our conversation.
He went on to sort of say, "Let's say you have a huge nose that inhibits you from getting a job, or having sexual relations, or a social life or whatever." I immediately internalize this statement and assume that he is talking about MY nose and I become self-conscious. "Or you have had several children, and you can't stand to look at your breasts...." I have stopped listening now because he is clearly talking about me.
But, he was NOT talking about me, I don't think, because (when I was able to swallow my paranoia and focus, again) he elaborated on how most of the women he sees are women who have had certain body characteristics all of their life, and then during a series of circumstances, be it pregnancy, thyroid, stress, age, or whatever, that body no longer exists and they want to try and get it back. They want to be at their PEAK, again, and it is worth the risk.
What I like about Dr. Donaldson is that he is obviously qualified to perform whatever I may want done, but he is NOT going to pressure me into making any decisions by preying on my obvious insecurities for his own financial gain. Just ask me if I had to pay the $50 dollars.
My mission through these next few posts is to get you to think about why you feel the way you do about your body, and to examine whether or not it is worth the consequences you might face if it does not turn out the way you thought it would.
I have an appointment next week with Dr. Donaldson, where I am going to "walk through" the entire experience of a consultation for the "Mommy Makeover". I promise that I will not hold anything back. I think you all know me better than that. I am already wondering if I can find matching underwear in my drawer. Would it be uncomfortable for him if I were to wear my Spanx? I know it is for me.
Stay tuned and wish me luck.