Have you ever jumped to criticism after seeing someone with plastic surgery or hearing of a friend or relative’s decision to alter their appearance? Or if you have had cosmetic surgery, have you ever faced judgment from others for your decision?
Truth be told, plastic surgery is a controversial subject, and such responses are typical. In a compelling article from the September/October issue of Spirituality & Health magazine, one poignant story stands out:
“I was at a pub one night where I liked to sing karaoke with my friends, about six weeks after having breast implants,” says Michelle, 55, of Nevada. “There was a group of very competitive ‘mean girls’ who would come in. When I got up to sing, one of them said, ‘Whoa! How do you spell plastic surgery?’”
Women, is this really how we want to be treating one another? Does one person’s decisions need to perfectly align with our own beliefs in order for us to treat them with respect? Before we condemn the perceived vanity that goes into a decision to receive plastic surgery, let’s try on the hat of compassion and take a look at some of the real reasons people – women in particular – opt for that course of action.
Nearly 40% of the U.S. population is 45 years old and above, and 14.2% of American women are 65 years and over. Many of the cosmetic concerns women face in later years – wrinkles, sun spots, greying or thinning hair, loss of pigmentation – can be attributed to age, which, after all, is one of the most natural processes human beings go through. There is nothing inherently shameful about aging, and if anything it should be a source of pride. As Oprah Winfrey wrote recently in an article for Huffington Post:
I’m well aware that trying to stay fresh and current can be a challenge, especially if you live a lot of your life in public view. Of course I want to look my best. I want to feel strong and vibrant. But I know for sure that the pathway to your best life isn’t the route of denial. It’s owning every moment. Staking a claim in right now. And, with gratitude, embracing the age you are.
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, by far the largest age group for both surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures is 35-50 years of age, with the 51-64 age group following as second largest for nonsurgical procedures. Nonsurgical includes Botox injections, chemical peels, microdermabrasion and the like.
That means a sizable amount of women past their 40’s are looking in the mirror, feeling uncomfortable with how they look, and undergoing cosmetic alterations to their appearance. But even nonsurgical procedures are not devoid of risk. Such procedures can cause burns, scarring, darkening or lightening of the skin, and other unwanted side effects.
That’s not to say these procedures shouldn’t exist, but it’s important to fully understand what you’re getting into and ask yourself a few questions before choosing that path. For one, does your interest in cosmetic surgery arise out of deep introspection and soul-searching, or is it born of fear, shame, or insecurity? If the latter, explore some other options for increasing happiness and self-esteem, first.
As Jane Ganahl writes in Spirituality & Health:
Cultivate inner happiness by giving of yourself. Volunteer at a senior center, organize a book club, audition for community theater. Doing for others keeps you from obsessing about those crow’s-feet.
Buck the cultural impediments to visibility. Walk tall, refuse to take a table by the kitchen, make your opinions known. Change the way you look at yourself, and the world will change too.
What are your thoughts and experiences with cosmetic surgery? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Spirituality & Health is a magazine for people who want to explore the spiritual journey and wake up to our capacity for self-healing, vitality, and resiliency. Read the entire article on plastic surgery in the September/October edition of Spirituality & Health, on newsstands now! Get your first issue FREE here.
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