legsI didn’t have many Barbies growing up. The ones I did have were gifts from friends at birthday parties because my mother was never especially keen on Barbie’s exaggerated, oversexed proportions (part of my parents larger plan to do their darndest to teach me to fill my head more than my closet).   As a mother of all boys, (none of whom have recieved them as birthday gifts) I’ll admit it’s been a while since I’ve had much time with Barbie.  A few months ago, while chatting with a friend and picked up two of the Barbies, bereft of clothing, which had been strewn across the floor by her house full of daughters.  I eyed the two denuded Barbies.  One was traditional Barbie, the Barbie of my youth, and the second was Barbie plus… Barbie plus Dr. 90210 that is.

Pairing the two for closer inspection it was obvious Barbie plus had been nipped and augmented at every curve from her decidedly Brazilian derriere to her obviously silicone “amendments”. Her calves and ankles were skinnier,  her brows lifted.  Normal Barbie has always been freakishly disproportionate, but this doll had no resemblance to normal womanly features. No supple, subtle gracious curves like those of  the nude marble Greek sculptures I used to draw in my art musuem classes, simply an awkward conglomeration of classically fake “plastic surgery” features.  Don’t get me wrong plastic surgeons can do amazing things.  I have witnessed first hand over 1000 reconstructive plastics procedures on medical missions.  I’ve sat with a 17 year old boy as he looked in a mirror for the first time following a cleft lip repair and cried with relief because he said someone would marry him now. I’ve seen it at it’s height of  transformativeness and it excessive lows of shallow vanity. 

Over vacation, I watched an old Sinatra flick, Pal Joey, with my sister.  I stared at the curvaceous women, a stark reminder of where we’ve come in our lean idealization of the female form, no more glory for the Rubens-esque. My sister then commented on her recent observance of Linda Carter’s very womanly Wonder Woman physique.  Wow, my legs would’ve fit right in, I could’ve made it in a late 50’s nightclub or better yet as a lassoing superheroine.  Still today as a decidely confident woman, I feel some apologetic twinges of self consciousness as I peel down at the beach.

At Barnes and Noble one night,  I ran across a magazine on all the latest advances in aesthetic beauty. This glossy mag was half as thick as a phone book. Pages on improving your eyelashes– seriously eyelashes (no not mascara) we’re talking growth stimalulators, lash transplants (I do know that there are good reasons for this post burns/chemo, but that was not the target audience).  Half a ream on every type of laser treatment, injectable fillers, and body contouring.  I was grotesquely fascinated.  I couldn’t believe there was a  magazine devoted to this.  Side columns filled with humanizing profiles of the top docs for each body “trouble spot”.  No woman could look through that magazine without thinking that nature had dealt her a nasty hand, and finding flaws in her body she had never even before contemplated.

We do these things because we can. In our advanced society we have the technology, we have the money, we have the leisurely lifestyles that let us sit around and worry about our eyelashes and minor wrinkles. What is it to be a girl who grows up where your perceived normal is not natural? It’s all been sucked, tightened, and plumped to the tune of thousands of dollars.  What is it to look around in a crowd thinking “that” is natural and you must be aberrant? What are the deeper implications of all this on women and girls, body image, and sexuality? Is it just part of our times and as natural, as getting new furniture or renovating a room?

 Here were Elder Jeffrey R Holland thoughts from October 2005:

In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children. At some point the problem becomes what the Book of Mormon called “vain imaginations.”  And in secular society both vanity and imagination run wild.   

Still aesthetic procedures are on the rise. It’s becoming part of our culture and where does it fit in LDS culture? I hear alot of thoughts from women. Some say it’s in attempts to keep their husbands happy.  A current popular one among moms is “restored to my former glory” line. “I sacrificed to  have kids and I deserve to be back to the way it was before”.  Or “It’s just always bugged me”. While I try to understand these, I also try to keep a certain perspective, I feel pretty grateful to have a body that for the most part works well, claim those few inches that tag along unwantedly around my waist as battle scars for getting 3 boys into this world, and want to be known for who I am and what I do – not how I fill out a sweater.  I want to accept age and change graciously. How would I tell a daughter who inherited “imperfect” features that she’d better start saving 10 grand to look “normal?”  Maybe these beliefs antiquated, conservative– am I the last of the lead pencil club (or rather non-plastics club)?

Tell me your thoughts? Is there an intersection of beauty and faith; our bodies, our money, our stewardship? Is there a moral /spiritual dimension to beautifying? To nipping and tucking? Where does it begin and end? When does it cross the line into destructive or vain? What do the “before and after shots”  of this phenomenon on our society reveal? 

And all our men readers, I’d love to hear from you also…

(P.S. Lest I get Barbie flack I am cool with her, no need to defend)

Leslie

(Art Director) In her pre-diapering days, Leslie earned an MS in Marriage and Family Studies from BYU. This entitled her to mold the minds of impressionable college students in rambling six-hour lecture courses and travel the world as child life specialist. She now passes the seasons in a quaint Massachusetts town with her husband, Allen, and three young sons. She spends her days encouraging play, championing global causes, and whipping up a mean R2D2 cake. She savors her nights, stealing away to her studio to paint.

158 Comments

  1. Jennie

    September 1, 2009

    I’m a very, very happy recipient of plastic surgery (facial). My kids have no idea I’ve had it done (they were very,very young at the time). As my oldest daughter grows into her teenage years I see her develop the same facial characteristics that I hated so much. She doesn’t seem to mind, though. Or even notice. I’m so happy about that. When I was her age I was begging my parents for plastic surgery.

    I don’t plan on telling her what work I had done unless she brings it up. But I can say one thing: if she ever wants to change her face like I did, I would pay for it in a second.

    I obsessed about my face for years. Now that I’ve had plastic surgery, though, I rarely think about it. So I would have to say that having plastic surgery has made me less preoccupied with my looks that I was before.

    I will admit that I’m vain, and I’d loooove to have a flat stomach one day. The over the top stuff with giant boobs is too crazy for me, though. I’d only want work done if I could pass it off as natural.

  2. Kay

    September 1, 2009

    I have never even considered any plastic surgery. It is just not for me. Partly because I am sqeamish at the thought. Financially we have more important things to spend our money on.

    My body is no longer the amazing one I had when I was younger. I asked my husband the other day if he remembered how it used to be before children, he said yes. I asked him if he minded the changes and he said no and meant it too. I may not be ultra slim any more, I do have wobbly bits. I honestly do not recognise my arms as ever belonging to me. I am happy with me though. I look like this because I am older and I have had 3 children. This is the real me and I am proud of it.

    Saying that if someone wishes to make permanent chhanges to their body it is not for me to judge. I wear make up every day and highlight my hair. They have just gone further down the road on their quest to feel and look good. We have a stewardship to look after our bodies which are our temples. How we achieve that is personal.

  3. Sara

    September 1, 2009

    I think it’s funny that when my Mom was growing up she hated how thin she was. It wasn’t in style and she wanted curves so she would try to eat as many milkshakes as she could. Now thin is in style and she says it’s unfair she wasn’t able to fully enjoy it since she has to actually be careful about her weight now 🙂

  4. Lee

    September 1, 2009

    AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! I love this! I absolutely love this. It is so sad to me to see so many women getting plastic surgery. For one, I feel that our Heavenly Father created us perfect in His image. He knew what our bodies would do when we were pregnant, He knew the changes we would go through, and this is how our bodies are made. I feel when we are doing these types of things just to “be like we were before” we are in essence slapping Him in the face, saying You didn’t do it right, I need it better.
    For two, I never ever want my daughter to feel like she needs to do this to be beautiful. Never ever. I want her to know she is beautiful for who she is. For what she is. And not for her bra cup size.
    Three. I believe that embracing our bodies is part of something we need to do. It is overcoming the Natural Man to be a certain way. Satan is throwing everything at us so we don’t feel like we are of worth. And he is showing us how to feel of worth. Is $5000 on boobs going to help us grow closer to our Heavenly Father. Nope. And they have to be redone. That amount on a family vacation.. we will draw closer together.. and we better be able to do at least two stellar vacations.
    Thank you Les for you insight and understanding of our bodies. They have changed having children. But they have changed for the better. Maybe our after having children body is our perfect state?

  5. Laura

    September 1, 2009

    This is a very touchy subject for me. For YEARS I wanted plastic surgery, not quite as much as Barbie, but I liked the idea of enhancing certain areas.
    I’m over that…there was a talk by Holland about 4 or 5 years ago that really struck me, and the fact that my husband is against the idea of it helped change my mind.
    But I LOVED what Kay said, “it’s a personal decision”. I have several friends and family members who have made the choice to change things, in a very tasteful way….they are good, smart, confident women. We shouldn’t judge their choice….most of us change our hair color and other things to enhance their looks, and that isn’t viewed as wrong.
    So you see, I’m torn. Not something I would do, but I try not to judge others for making the choice to do it.

  6. jenny

    September 1, 2009

    Do any of you remember that speech/song by Baz Luhrmann? In it he says:
    “Do not read beauty magazines they will only make you feel ugly!”
    Truth?
    Sadly, I think there is alot of truth to that.
    (I still end up reading them, though…)

    Like other commenters, I cannot judge another’s decision to enhance or restructure, there are many women in my life whom I love and admire that have chosen to do so.
    But,Leslie, I completely agree with you that society has drastically changed the “norm” of the female body. And that that “norm” is becoming virtually unattainable without a surgical procedure.
    I half-joke with my husband that I wonder if any of our four sons will marry women who are “all natural.”

    It’s kind of a sad and sobering thought{–not that they would marry someone who had had surgery, simply meaning from a statistical perspective, the escalated percentages of people who have had cosmetic procedures…}.

    Good insights and great post.

  7. Sarah

    September 1, 2009

    Great topic. I’m very torn on this subject. I’m mid-30’s, have never had children, and am generally happy with my body. Sure, I’d love perkier boobs and have plenty of fat and cellulite I could stand to lose, but plastic surgery isn’t something I’ve ever considered, or wanted.

    My gut reaction is to be completely repulsed by the idea of plastic surgery. When did we decide it was okay to undergo surgery or change our basic looks in the name of vanity? Or to keep (or snag) a man? The idea is incredibly pathetic to me (and makes me embarrassed sometimes to be female… not that men don’t deal with these issues, but I think it is on a MUCH smaller scale). And I think it is nothing short of tragic that young women grow up watching women (and especially their mothers) get plastic surgery where it is not needed. Of course it sends the message that women need to look better than they do. That they are not sufficient the way God made them. That if they do not get themselves a better body than the one they have, they are not sufficiently valuable. How could it send any other message?

    That said, I also recognize that plastic surgery is an extension of what we all already do to look better (color our hair, whiten our teeth, wear push-up bras). And I know that it can be a life-saver (self-esteem builder) for a small portion of society who struggle all their lives with certain physical features or defects. So I’m not judging any individuals; just talking in generalities. And generally speaking, I think we are screwing our daughters up.

    I don’t know where we draw the line on the slippery slope.

  8. dalene

    September 1, 2009

    interesting topic, leslie. i’ve been wanting to write about this as well and share the stories of two friends who did have had plastic surgery. to be honest, i’ve been a little afraid to go forward with it. i know some people feel very strongly about this and i would hate to see anyone–especially people i love–be personally attacked in the comments section.

    i have always been in the “not for me” camp and i used to find it easy to say “not for anyone.” then i found out one of my best friends had had plastic surgery (i had known her for years and i had never even noticed) and i asked her about her experience and it touched my heart.

    so, while i am still in the “not for me” camp, seeing a little more clearly someone else’s personal experience has allowed me to step out of the “not for anyone” camp to the point i can say, as has been said before, it is a very personal decision.

  9. Leslie

    September 1, 2009

    I do alot of work with people with visible differences dealing with the psychosocial implications of their experience. So yes, it is difficult to understand the experience of walking in someone elses shoes or face or body as is the case. These decisions are personal and individual.

    jenny-I never thought of that- by statistics you’re right with 3 boys… hmm slightly disturbing in my opinion.

    Lee- powerful thoughts! You daughter has a mom who will help her always feel powerful!

    I have this question though, by engaging more in aesthetic procedures (although it’s our own individual choices) are we at all responsible in some part for collectively placing psychological pressure on other women and girls by presenting the altered norm? Are there class implications in this as well as “means” are required for these procedures? I am troubled by the ads for easy payment plans for comestic surgery.

    Dalene- I think this is why I posed alot of questions. While I tend to side my self a bit right of “totally neutral” I am curious to hear other peoples perspectives and experiences. It is a sensitive topic but as whole what are the trends and their implications for women?

  10. Sarah

    September 1, 2009

    I just re-read my comment, and it sounds a bit harsh. Just want to reiterate my thoughts/concerns that while plastic surgery may be a good decision for certain individuals, I think altering the norm, and promoting it as a means of gaining greater value/self-worth is an awful (!!!) message to send to young women.

  11. Strollerblader

    September 1, 2009

    My husband and I both noted the last time we were in Utah driving along the Wasatch Front that almost all of the billboards were either for housing developments or some sort of body alterations. Honestly, we don’t know how that compares to other places, since almost every billboard around here is advertising a casino.

    I am in the camp of “if it is needed for medical reasons, then it’s good.”

  12. julie

    September 1, 2009

    I absolutely hate the trend. However, I am all about live and let live…if you want to have surgery who I am I to tell you not to? I am not going to judge someone if they want a boob job. Its your body and your money (and your kids who will get the message that boobs need to be bigger). I might feel sorry for you though.

    My one issue, is that when it comes to Mormons I do not understand why it is seen as acceptable. Tattoos, piercings, and tank tops are HUGE no-no’s because your body is a temple – but cutting yourself up to fit some arbitrary ideal of appearance is a-ok? Its a HUGE cultural hypocrisy. If you can go under a knife to have bigger boobs or a smaller nose or whatever, I don’t see why you shouldn’t be ok having a second pair of earrings or a tattoo on your back. Seems pretty paltry in comparison.

    “Are there class implications in this as well as “means” are required for these procedures?”
    Of course. Beauty is for the rich – always has been.

  13. Laura

    September 1, 2009

    Julie, I agree 100% with everything you said. Thank you

  14. Just V.

    September 1, 2009

    “I am not going to judge someone if they want a boob job. Its your body and your money (and your kids who will get the message that boobs need to be bigger). I might feel sorry for you though.”

    Really? You don’t see this statement as judgmental?

    “Beauty is for the rich- always has been.”

    I bet there are some beautiful poor people out there that might disagree with you.

  15. wendy

    September 1, 2009

    As I was sorting through a bag of grapes last night, casually tossing those that had any sign of agedness, though they were probably just as delicious as the flawless grapes, I thought about this topic and the sometimes desperate search for all forms of perfection. I don’t like that it’s such an obsession, whether it be unrealistic expectations of our bodies, or what our families should look like, or our homes or our callings or what have you.

    That said, I don’t think everybody who gets plastic surgery is obsessed with having that perfect body, so I really try to stay on the “not for me” side of things. Sometimes it’s hard for me to stay there, because I don’t understand a lot of it, but I try. I know it’s not my place to condemn.

    I grew up in a family of weird bodied people, even at our thinnest points. Even when way too thin, I had bulgey love handles and a ponch. I was so thrilled when I finally got something that resembled a butt in 11th grade.

    I strongly believe we need to learn to be happy with the bodies God has given us and let go of trying to meet the media’s vision of perfection, but I still don’t think we can know what is in the heart of another person.

  16. Jennie

    September 1, 2009

    My plastic surgeon was also my stake president. During my pre-surgery consultation I told him how superficial I felt having plastic surgery, even though I’d dreamed of it for years. He just said simply, “if it makes you feel better about yourself then what’s wrong with that?” I’d have to agree.

  17. Andrea R.

    September 1, 2009

    I go back and forth about this a lot. I have a scar on my face, 3 c-section scars, scars from old fencing wounds in my arm and leg, and scars from an appendectomy and a hernia repair. Also, in addition to having droopy post-baby breasts, I have a six-inch scar on “leftie” from a breast abscess that happened after pumping breast milk for my oldest. Sometimes I think that I love my scars and that they tell the story of my life. I think that I should embrace my jiggly belly and droopy breasts as a celebration of the 3 wonderful children that I have brought into the world.

    Then, sometimes I see myself naked in the mirror and think, “Wow, I’d really love it if my boobs looked better.” I’m considering a boob job when I turn 40. Still going back and forth though.

    I think, as has been said before, that plastic surgery, bariatric surgery, or any other cosmetic procedure, be it botox or simply dyeing your hair is definitely a matter of personal choice. If a woman needs to have something like that done to make her feel better about herself, GO FOR IT! There are enough negative messages that women get about their bodies. Feel good about yourself — that’s the most important thing. (Just shop around and find a good, reputable, skilled plastic surgeon — I have seen a lot of botched boob jobs and other procedures. Get it done right.)

  18. Mindy

    September 1, 2009

    I think it all comes down to your reasons for doing it. If you’re doing it because you care about what other people think or you feel like you have to do it to catch or keep a man, I think all the cosmetic surgery in the world is not going to help you. I think some people just honestly feel deformed and it detracts from their quality of life. If they can have the procedure done and be happy and move on, it might not be such a horrible thing.

    I have spent so much of my life self-conscious about my big chest. I can never find bras, shirts, or swimsuits that fit. My back hurts all the time and I just hate the way they look. Most of the people around me think it would be wonderful, but it’s miserable. As soon as I’m done having kids I fully intend to get a reduction. It will leave me with some ugly scars and cost a ton, but everyone I know who has had it says it’s the best thing they’ve ever done.

    But it’s still so hard not to judge. When I see women who have obviously had boob jobs, or botox, or facelifts and such I roll my eyes. I do this when I see women who obviously spend hours on their hair and put on a pound a make-up a day. I do this when I see women wearing jeans that cost $200…. you get the idea. Why can’t we all be more happy with who we are? Why do we try to create a plastic image of ourselves? On the same hand, maybe if we stopped judging each other so much for our imperfections or attempts to look/feel better, maybe we’d all be happier and see the real beauty around and within ourselves. I know that sounds cliche, but I really believe it.

  19. Kay

    September 1, 2009

    I commented earlier that it is not for me and is a personal choice. I had completely forgotten that my daughter (now 11) had an operation at age 8 to pin back her ears. She asked for it because she was miserable about the constant teasing at school. Children can be very cruel. Several times a week she would be crying on her bed not wanting to go to school. It happened despite intervention from school teachers. To be honest her ears were awful and no one wants to go through life being known as elf ears. The doctors decided to go ahead with it because of the emotional needs involved. The primary factor was to help her feel better rather than look better. Sadly the aftercare from the hospital with dressings etc was not good enough and it all went horribly wrong. She was off school for weeks recovering from infections and horrific scarring. For my daughter it was a dream to look normal, sadly this did not happen.

  20. Gilgamesh

    September 1, 2009

    I can’t believe I am the first man to post.

    For the record, I am against enhancement surgery (not plastic surgery). In my opinion, enhancement surgeries are like accepting a gift from God, then exchanging it for something else. It teaches children that looks are more important than character.

    I also like the fact that as my hair thins and my gut grows, my wife is changing as well. We are both different than we were when we married, and will be more different in 20, 40 and 60 years from now. Body changes are a part of life.

    I had a discussion with a friend that asked about resurrection and returning to our prime. We both laughed when he said, maybe our prime is 50 years old with wrinkles, no hair and a gut.Who knows, but those who are trying to hold onto their “prime” may be pretty surpised when all the plastic is removed in their resurrected body.

  21. jendoop

    September 1, 2009

    Usually when I comment on Segullah I try to be as inoffensive as possible but today I am so shocked by the rationalizing going on.

    When we say that we hate this societal trend but then say we wouldn’t want to make that decision for someone else, it is contradictory. Every dollar you spend is a vote for something, in this case a vote for vanity. Who sees your plastic surgery? You see it about 10 minutes a day when you’re looking in the mirror or getting dressed. The remaining 23 hours and 50 minutes of your day your plastic surgery is for everyone else. It is your outward projection of yourself. We are told to be neat and comely but this is going far over the line.

    I want to help others to decide not to have plastic surgery, vote with your money to say that your body IS beautiful, just the way it is. Plastic surgery (unless medically necessary) is a perversion of the glorious gift God has given us.

    I agree with Julie: “Tattoos, piercings, and tank tops are HUGE no-no’s because your body is a temple – but cutting yourself up to fit some arbitrary ideal of appearance is a-ok? Its a HUGE cultural hypocrisy.”

    There have been dear friends in my life whose families and lives were in turmoil because of plastic surgery they had. They didn’t have good answers to give their children about why they did it. In the end it solved no problems but created more.

    Anybody read Isaiah 3 recently?

  22. Ginger

    September 1, 2009

    “my mother was never especially keen on Barbie’s exaggerated, oversexed proportions”

    Am I the only one that takes exception with this statement, and the one about filling your head and not your closet? Before I had kids I was 5’8″, and a perfect size 6 with a great hourglass figure. Still, I managed to get my university degree without sleeping with any professors.

    I’m not sure why one couldn’t have a good body, wear make-up, do her hair, dress cute, AND be smart. It seems to be a theme I have heard more than once here at Segullah.

    At the moment I don’t foresee myself getting plastic surgery, but I have learned to not judge, and never say never.

  23. Darlene

    September 1, 2009

    I spent a couple of years sick. This mysterious illness came on right after I had sinus surgery, and I believe that my body had a bad reaction to the surgery itself and just couldn’t recover easily. Since then, I can’t imagine ever choosing to have surgery, to subject my body to that risk and stress, without need.

    Also, all those days I lay on my bed thinking about how much I just wanted to be able to walk around with strength again–they left me with a different view of what a body is for, and what we should seek after in terms of our bodies. Our bodies are for caring for and using in health and joy. The other stuff doesn’t really matter.

  24. Leslie

    September 1, 2009

    Ginger- I very much believe you can be smart and pretty but as to Barbie’s over sexed proportions 39-21-33 is not normal, it’s not even near a 36-24-36 standard hourglass. Yes my mother honestly did state she didn’t like Barbies’s alot because they portrayed unrealistic body image and I am glad that even as a child that discussion was part of my growing up.

    gilamesh- laughing at your check your plastic at the gate idea…

    kay- interesting story about the ears- I actually read a fascinating study once on the emotional effects of prominent ears and yes, it’s very sad (even more impact than say someone with a large thing like a port wine stain on their face- suprising)

  25. Josi

    September 1, 2009

    Just like most things, it’s certainly what’s inside that counts the most, but I see no problem with making adaptations so that the outside looks and feels good. Can it get carried away? Absolutely, but if one person’s idea of being neat and comely involves some surgical help, I don’t see that as a problem. Braces are cosmetic–so is getting a cavity filled, lasix, acne treatments, etc. I think anyone that makes that choice needs to take a lot of time reviewing why they want it–since it won’t solve life’s greatest problems, but it might just solve one of them. However, we need to teach our children to love their bodies as well, and take care of themselves and spent more time on their inside development then they do their outside. I think it’s possible to do that–and be willing to make some adjustments within reason. I know people who had work done and regretted it, I also know people that had work done and began dressing in a way that showed it off (which I regretted for them), and I know people that had work done simply to feel good about an aspect of their body that eating right and taking care of their bodies could not fix.

    I think it’s good to have an opinion and be willing to share it and defend it and in the end hug the other person and hope things go well for them.

  26. m&m

    September 1, 2009

    Jennie,

    I’m glad you shared your experience. It’s good to hear from someone who did a one-time thing that ended up feeling good and right.

    I don’t know enough about the stats with this, but I did want to respond to what the SP said.

    “If it makes you feel better about yourself then what’s wrong with that?” I think that seems to have been the right answer for you — one change and you have forgotten and moved on. But I fear there are many situations where the changes become obsessive, and the “I *need* this to feel better about myself” takes over.

    There are people who give plastic surgery as the token, regular high school grad gift.

    My friend interviewed a plastic surgery company, that said the ideal age to begin is 12!!!! (TWELVE!)

    I think too much of this is rooted in the almighty dollar and false notions of beauty that are very damaging to us as a society.

    Again, I am glad someone shared her experience. I think that there are placed and times, exceptions if you will when surgery might be something to help a woman in some way. A personal spiritual journey to accept one’s self is so very personal.

    But I tend to think they should be exceptions, not the rule. I think if (as?) it becomes the rule, it’s a disservice to us all and distorts reality and truth.

  27. anonymous

    September 1, 2009

    I have no experience with anyone who has had plastic surgery (at least to my knowledge), and if you’d just asked me about plastic surgery without this article, offhand I probably would have said that for people with a knowledge of the gospel, it (purely cosmetic procedures) are vain, hypocritical and ungrateful.

    However, the more I think about it now, the more I think I’d have to be in the not-for-me camp. It’s easy for me to say that it’s not for me, because I’m young and happy with my body – skinnier than before my first child – and healthier than I’ve ever been. But who am I to say that I’ll continue to feel the same once that all goes away? Once it gets harder to love my body?

    My experience with an eating disorder in college taught me that when we treat our bodies badly, our spiritual health suffers. When we treat them well, our spiritual health improves. It can be hard to treat your body well if you feel that you and it are constant enemies. I think that part of treating our bodies well is in the camp of, as has been mentioned, no tattoos or piercings and what have you… I think there is also the camp of, cultivating an attitude of appreciation and love for and taking a sense of pride in our bodies. It’s like the Don’ts and the Do’s. Plastic surgery falls under both. It can be ungrateful, it can cause more harm than good… but it can probably also open up a lot of doors for people’s emotional health. I grew up not fat, but not skinny and definitely not beautiful and popular… just plain. This was enhanced by my complete lack of confidence. I remember thinking to myself as a teenager that while I’d always been told that beauty grows from the inside out, it sure seemed to me that if my outside looked better, I could stop worrying about it and spend time focusing on my “inside”. And I have to say, that one of the side effects of my eating disorder experience (it was mild and it only took a couple years to put it behind me) is that I’ve been able to remain (a healthy) much skinnier than before. With this came confidence and an improved ability to develop relationships with other people. Relinquishing my worries about my outside has led to lots of progress on my inside. That emotional turning point in my life led to who I am now: a person much more able to focus on service, develop friendships, look outside myself and have a healthy life.

    So, I have to say that I think the emotional element of plastic surgery decisions is key to deciding how I feel about its appropriate place in our culture. If I wanted the tiniest little change and it was purely vain, I hope I would rethink. If I were facing a physical hurdle that was preventing my emotional and spiritual progress, then I wouldn’t judge myself for considering it. And what level of physical “problem” can prevent progress varies for each of us I am sure. Heavenly Father knows the state of our hearts. I think if each person seriously considers the spiritual aspects of their decision, then what they do is not for any of us to judge. I would hope that discussions of the appropriateness of plastic surgery are only to raise awareness for those who hadn’t bothered to consider or didn’t understand that there may be spiritual ramifications for oneself and one’s family. There is definitely a spiritual element of this decision.

    Okay I’m done now 🙂

  28. Fairchild

    September 1, 2009

    There was a girl in my stake growing up who got a nose job right after high school. I did not blame her one bit. I always felt bad for her as her nose was distracting. So, sometimes I think it can be a good thing.

    I am very flat chested (even pregnant and nursing I never get higher than a B) but I am not interested in a boob job. My sister says they are very popular in her Vegas ward now. I keep hearing more about LDS women getting more work done. I too was surprised on my trip to UT this summer by all the lipo billboards all over UT County. I don’t remember those being there on previous trips or when I lived there 8 years ago. It made me sad that women can’t accept that their post-baby bodies will look different and just strive to be healthy and in good shape. Women are supposed to be soft! That’s where our hormones are stored, in our fat!

    My mom also hated Barbie dolls and I had to beg for one for a long time before she gave in. Only after I was grown did I understand why! Part of why I will not get a boob job is because of my daughters. What if they are flat like me? I don’t want them to think there is anything wrong with being that way. My DH doesn’t care and I nursed my babies just fine. Besides, I’d rather be too small than too big. I don’t blame women for getting reductions!

  29. bekah

    September 1, 2009

    The issue of plastic surgery has been on my mind a lot lately, but not because I am considering it for myself. Like Strollerblader, on a recent trip to Utah, my husband and I noticed an abundance of billboards advertising plastic surgery and other image-enhancing procedures. We spent a fair amount of our 6 hour drive home talking about society’s obsession with youth and beauty and how much time, effort, and money it consumes. Then last week, the two oldest children of our neighbor were in a horrific car accident. Neither one of them had life-threatening injuries, but both sustained massive facial damage and have had extensive reconstructive surgeries, and will require more in the future.

    As I thought about these kids, I imagined how I would have felt, as a single 19-year-old girl, to have massive facial injuries. And I felt very grateful that plastic surgeons have developed the skills to give her back her face and her confidence. I think that plastic surgery, like almost all advances in technology, can be used for both good and evil. It is up to us to make the judgement call on whether our use of it is going to edify our lives and bring us closer to our best selves and the Savior, or cause us to waste our time and be self-centered.

    I also had the same thought as Gilgamesh–when we are resurrected, what form will our bodies take? I am personally hoping for my body to be more like it was before I had four kids, but I also realize that I need to be happy with my body as it is now, and appreciate it for all that it can do even if it is not as physically attractive as it once was. And if people are so uncomfortable with their appearance that they feel the need to alter their bodies through surgery, how will they feel if their bodies revert to an unaltered state after this life?

    Personally, I have trouble with the idea of intentionally going through the pain of surgery for cosmetic purposes alone. I’m kind of a wuss that way. But if I ever need to have a hysterectomy, I may just take a page out of my mother-in-law’s book and have them do a small tummy-tuck “while they’re already in there” to get rid of some of that flabby skin that is never going away on its own.

  30. Leslie

    September 1, 2009

    I appreciate people’s very personal real dissatisfaction with their bodies, but I am curious whether this is usually innate or stemming from the cultural messages they are sent. If it’s cultural then there should be ways to help more people feel happy about their bodies without all that money, work, and risk?

    I have to think it is also in response to the increased commoditization of sex over the last half a century.

  31. Sweet Em

    September 1, 2009

    Face it, I’m naive. I just found out last year that it is a cultural norm in among certain Mormon groups to have plastic surgery after you’ve finished having kids. I was SHOCKED to find this out, having grown up in Utah when it was sort of a back water mountain state (not that long ago). Shocked, as in, walked around for three weeks thinking “What? The MORMONS are doing this?” and asking every Mormon woman in my social circle if they were aware of this.

    I’m not so much shocked that an individual woman would decide to do it, but that it is a cultural norm. In a years time I could never succinctly voice the reason for my surprise, but Julie’s comment (#12) pins it down perfectly, it just seems so “un-Mormon” to get bigger boobs!

    I actually think that even orthodontic braces, for non-health reasons is taking it too far, but perhaps my seven years of unhappy brace wearing has colored my opinion.

    BUT OF COURSE, I have my own hypocracies. I pretty much hate my nose and have told my husband that if I’m ever in an accident where I’ll need facial reconstructive surgery that they are NOT to give me back my exact nose. I even sometime think of elective surgery – but it is the nose my mom has and I wouldn’t want to make her feel like I thought she was unattractive. (She’s beautiful. I look just like her. I don’t feel beautiful. Explain that, Society)

    And finally, my 2 year old daughter had a huge umbilical hernia as an infant and her belly button is adorably grotesque. I love it and will never say a thing to her but I am planning to let her have plastic surgery if she ever brings it up.

  32. Mary P.

    September 1, 2009

    I just hope that any woman who considers plastic surgery (I wouldn’t. I dislike permanent changes, even when it comes to dyeing my hair!) would remember to look to the future as well as the past.

    Fads change. Popular body images change. Do you wish to be different because that’s what you like? Or is it because that’s the perception of beauty in the current decade?

    Gradually, through the popularity of ladies like Audrey Hepburn and Twiggy, Thin has become In. But! Will it last?

    I honestly don’t know.

  33. christine

    September 1, 2009

    #17, Not trying to have an argument but take care not to lump “bariatric surgery” as a “cosmetic” surgery. Having been through it, it is about so much more than simply wanting to look better, even though that is a great side effect.

    I have been firmly in the no plastic surgery camp but after undergoing bariatric surgery and the ensuing 115 lb weight loss and remaining skin, if I had the money I would seriously consider it “reconstruction.” HOWEVER, in the case of my weightloss surgery and in considering any additional cosmetic procedure, I have to say that I did it from a position of love and appreciation for the amazing body that Heavenly Father gave me and as a means of taking better care of it. It took me a long time to see my body as a friend to be cared for as opposed to an enemy that needed to be changed. It was only then that I was “ready” to go under the knife. I am so grateful for modern medicine and the miracles that it can allow!

  34. Human Bean

    September 1, 2009

    I have mixed feelings on this issue. I used to be 100% in the camp of “No Plastics.” Several years ago, however, I found out that a very dear, very old friend of mine had decided to undergo a breast lift (not alteration) procedure. At first I was very taken aback and surprised that this particular friend would make such a choice. When I saw her post-op she was absolutely beaming and had no shame or guilt about her choice and explained to me that she had given 10 years of her life to breastfeeding and nurturing her own children (this woman had also selflessly adopted two of her sister’s children during extreme hardship for her family) and now she felt her gift to herself would be this one thing that would help her feel young and vibrant again. This had been a personal decision supported 100% by her husband and family. This family is devoutly LDS. I admire their strength and success as parents. I must confess I have mused a time or two about undergoing this same procedure.

    Obviously this is not for everyone. But really, is it SO different from shopping for expensive shaping bras or using age defying lotions and makeup or even having our teeth straightened through orthodontics and using harsh whitening chemicals to “improve your smile” etc…? The list goes on and on. And yes, plastic surgery is more extreme than most of these things but really, how many of us give in to our vanities on a lesser scale every time we leave the house?

    I hope those who DO choose to alter their bodies in one way or another will not be judged any more harshly than those who choose NOT to. After all- it will all come out in the wash.

  35. Tiffany

    September 1, 2009

    I think that there are real instances where plastic surgery is important and an acceptable choice. I have a friend who was in a terrible accident which did horrible damage to her legs. Plastic surgery was essential and reasonable for her. What about women who are beaten and disfigured by their husbands and boyfriends? What about people who lose a lot of weight and have taken care of themselves for a reasonable period of time? Should they have to eternally carry around all the excess skin forever as penance? I don’t think so. But I also think that too many women are choosing plastic surgery for all the wrong reasons.

    I also think that one of the greatest tragedies of our day is that we despise all of the signs of a woman having actually fulfilled her purpose. That is, a woman who has borne children. We mock our stretch marks, disparage our sagging breasts, moan over stretched hips, sigh over our pudgy tummies. And through it all, we seem to regret the fact that we are mothers and the physical price of motherhood is reflected everyday in and on our bodies. We want to glorify the body of a young woman who has never experienced life or the powerful experience of motherhood. Why can’t we honor our part in the miracle of continuing life? Why can’t we honor the bodies we’ve been given which have been a part of Heavenly Father’s plan?

  36. Aimee

    September 1, 2009

    Ginger – I am totally with you – I too have felt that there have been several comments in the past made that a woman cannot be attractive and intelligent. I don’t think that this was the message that was intended, but the overall sarcasm pointed in that general direction.

    I was always overly conscientious of my figure when I was growing up. My mother was continually telling me I was fat. As I look back at the pictures of me in junior high and high school I cannot see what she was speaking of. I was thin, too thin at times, and even anorexic during the majority of my high school years to battle with the constant barrage of social pressures and agony in my home. The one thing that I could control was what I put in my mouth.

    That being said, I have always wanted plastic surgery to “correct” some of my more obvious imperfections. That is, until I met my husband, who loves me just as I am. After I met him, I realized that I needed to come to terms with my body, my beauty, and my lack of self-appreciation. I’m still working on it, it’s a long process. This process, coming to love oneself, is one of the reasons why I think that plastic surgery is so prevalent in our society, and, to an even greater extent, why it has become socially acceptable among members of the church. We are all striving towards perfection. It is easy to get our signals crossed in that journey as to what perfection means. Sometimes we take short-cuts to physical perfection in order to help ourselves feel better about where we are along that path.

    There are as well several instances where plastic surgery is not only merited but valuable in restoring a persons body to health. My body in particular has become distorted due to six pregnancies with two successful deliveries, both ten pound babies. You can only imagine what kind of torture this has done to my body. I don’t even recognize myself anymore. One day, when the time is right, I hope to have the excess skin and tissue removed. Until then, I cringe every time I look in the mirror. I also suffer from a chronic disease so my body and I are not on good terms. Am I a bad person because I do not appreciate my body for what it is? Am I an ungrateful daughter for wanting to change the body that God gave me? Well…I don’t feel like this IS the body that God gave me. The body that God gave me was different — this body — this prison — is not me.

  37. corktree

    September 1, 2009

    I’m not one to judge other’s choices, and personally, if I had unlimited funds I would probably have cosmetic knee surgery (fat knee caps make shorts an impossibility for me). Of course, there are other areas of my body that I am less than happy with, but they aren’t issues that can’t be fixed with exercise and a good padded bra (my husband insists he doesn’t care about what’s underneath).

    What bothers me the most about this trend, however, is the impact that it has on us as a whole. Like the question from #9, I worry about what we will all look like 20 years from now. If alterations become commonplace and the majority are closer to an unnatural ideal, what about the rest of us that choose to make the most of what we have been given or age naturally? Not that I don’t currently highlight my hair, but I would love to be one of those older women with a head of beautiful silver hair and wrinkles from years of smiling and laughing and worrying. I don’t want to look around me and feel out of place in a sea of smooth eyelids and perky chests. I really don’t fault anyone for wanting to feel better about how they look, but the line seems easily blurred, especially for our children.

  38. yet Another John

    September 1, 2009

    Three comments:

    My grandma always looked like a grandma from the time she was a grandma. I don’t think my wife ever will. At least not to the same extent. There’s a cultural shift here, isn’t there?

    I wonder how many of the commenters here (and especially those generally against plastic surgery) are in their 50’s or even 60’s yet. I wonder if their opinions will change as they grow older?

    I totally agree that we can take things too far. An example would be that of altering smiles. One commenter mentioned orthodontics and it certainly has its place. Eating, smiling, facial features and oral hygiene are all improved with a propeer bite. But when we get into bonding for the sake of evenness and whitening for the sake of appearance, then there can be some serious excesses and loss of a natural smile. Just look at any star or model today and it’s not hard to tell if they’ve had dental enhancements. You know they’re really serious if the bottom teeth have been done, too. Tooth shades available today to dental labs and professionals are much lighter than they were even fifteen years ago. Whole new lines of porcelains have been developed to keep up with the artificial whiteness we now have courtesy of bleaching.

  39. annie

    September 1, 2009

    I’ve had this very conversation with a group of LDS women recently. I have enjoyed the discussion here and my comments would only echo those made (on both sides, really).

    I just wanted to add that I think Darlene’s wonderful poem Angels of Mercy (published in Segullah) is a humorous/ reminder about the complexities of dealing with our feelings about this topic and, simultaneously, the call for compassion for each other (as always). Here’s the link for the poem.

  40. Leslie

    September 1, 2009

    y.a. john- I think your age comment is interesting. Do you think your grandmother and her generation felt as much dissatisfaction with their bodies?

    cosmetic dentistry too- I think the slope is getting slippier. While no one wants to judge individuals – I think judging the trend is valid…

    For me, the money of it all is an issue too, yes I wear makeup, and highlight my hair (my husband does it half the time I’m cheap) and I like to look nice- but no $200 jeans (maybe in 50 years with inflation) for me it doesn’t seem like a wise use of money. But having seen so many children around the world whose lives could be drastically changed through the correction of a birth defect through plastic surgery (but can’t because it’s beyond their families scope of financial means) and knowing the millions and millions that go into many frivilous procedures done today and the number of children whose birth defects could be corrected with that $ instead kind of makes me sick.

    annie- love that poem!

  41. Faith.Not.Fear

    September 1, 2009

    I’m trying to teach my daughters the importance of “look, love, and walk away” when it comes to personal appearance.

    If we can learn that, we will be able to turn our concerns to those who truly need us instead of getting overly caught up with the woman in the mirror :-).

    I agree — there are appropriate times and instances, and there are also times when it is disrespectful or ungrateful to Heavenly Father to do it.

    Like many life choices, it is a very individual and personal thing.

    We can look to the Nephites for some guidance though — they “did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely.” Alma 1:27

    In reading more about this, I realized that it’s important that we don’t let the styles of the world decide how we look at or shape ourselves:
    “For the fashion of this world passeth away” (1 Cor. 7:30)

  42. Whitney Johnson

    September 1, 2009

    Interesting post Leslie. Thanks!

  43. sar

    September 1, 2009

    Not that I’m necessarily a marxist, but I agree with you, Leslie, in that there are definite class/economic/power issues tied up with Western society’s ideal beauty. Were Rubens’ pale, fat women beautiful because that meant they were of the upper class with lots of leisure and rich food? Have we always been able to buy beauty?

  44. Gilgamesh

    September 1, 2009

    Y.A. John,

    I also don’t think my wife will ever look like a grandma, but that is more my own perception of her than her looks. She will look like a grandma to our grandchildren for sure, because she will be a grandma. To me she will remain the beautiful woman I married.

    An addendum to my #20 comment – I believe reconstructive plastic surgery is a blessing, including the removal of excess skin after gastric bypass or breats reduction to relieve back pain. There is definitely a difference between procedures to enhance health and physical ability and procedures mean only to enhance physique or falsify looks.

  45. Shelah

    September 1, 2009

    I’m probably not old enough to really decide what my feelings about “getting a little work done” are yet. When my breasts were big and my belly was jiggly and poochy, I didn’t turn to liposuction (although I would have been easier, I guess). I went on a diet. And the breasts that were big and saggy got small and perky and my stomach (while still stretch-marked) got flatter. It was a lot harder than lipo, but I feel like I earned looking good. I love my body now, probably because I know through that experience that it can do hard work. That will probably be an incendiary statement.

    Of course, now I have wrinkles that I didn’t have when I was 30 pounds heavier. So far, at least, I’m not turning to botox, but I can’t say that I won’t be tempted in 10 years.

    I do agree that (from my perspective anyway), getting plastic surgery for cosmetic reasons wouldn’t send a good message to my daughters, and that it seems to be (for now, at least) to be an option only for those who have the means to do it. But does that option also shackle the people who fall into that class (as if to say, “If you have the money, why NOT have the work done?”)

  46. Kate

    September 1, 2009

    Interesting that no one has made the “boob job” and porn connection.

    We keep hearing how massively widespread porn use (from sampling to addiction) is among younger married men in the church and how it’s negatively impacting marriages. I can nearly guarantee that 99% of the images they are seeing include surgically “enhanced” women.

    Sooooo, when I look around my little ward in a rural, yet prosperous area and know eight (!) women who have boob jobs, I can’t help but wonder about that connection in their marriages. Are we trying to “compete” with porn stars? Are men (and women) beginning to see that as a norm? Do we need to make ourselves look like them?
    Is porn informing critical decisions about our bodies…our health…our self-image??
    Terrifying.

  47. Karen

    September 1, 2009

    I’ve kind of skimmed the comments, so maybe this has already been voiced. But we need to be careful about how we speak about our bodily imperfections, too. I remember after having my second baby (and gaining lots of new stretch marks) overhearing a conversation between two women. One of them had a baby who was about a year (?) old and she was a very beautiful and also a slender person. She was telling the other woman about how she was definitely getting a tummy tuck after having children because her stretch marks were so “disgusting”. She kept referring to her post-baby body as ugly and it made me feel horrible! She was beautiful! I had stretch marks, too (and probably a lot more than her), did that make me disgusting? I felt like crying after hearing their conversation.
    So stretch marks aren’t pretty. Who cares. To me they’re a symbol of a much larger sacrifice. But that’s just me.

  48. Just V

    September 1, 2009

    Kate(#46)
    You aren’t really implying that all women that have had breast enhancement are (and/or have husbands that are) involved in pornography, are you? Because if you were, it would be wrong, insulting, and wrong.

  49. cindy baldwin

    September 1, 2009

    I am another one who has struggled with my viewpoint on this. My gut reaction is “no, cosmetic surgery is tampering with God’s gift.” On the other hand – I, too, know a few people who have had plastic surgery to correct things that they felt deeply self-conscious about, and the surgery has allowed them to let go of self-consciousness and love their body more.

    However: I have one other thought on it. I struggle with chronic, serious illness. There are many, many days that I do feel (as one of the previous commenters said) that my body is “my enemy.” And this DOES impact my spiritual well-being. I am totally dependent on the world of modern medicine to make my body perform some of the most basic physical functions. The struggle to love and accept my body as it is a daily thing.

    But I also feel strongly that this daily struggle to accept my physical body the way the Lord created it, flaws and all, is a huge part of my spiritual growth, and something that brings me constantly toward the Lord. I have learned – and am continuing to learn – so much about the sacredness of the physical body in my journey with cystic fibrosis. It is obvious to me that this is a crucial part of my spiritual journey, and an enormous part of what makes me the woman I am today.

    I tend to wonder if maybe, for people who feel like they have deformities or abnormalities that merit plastic surgery (small breasts, whatever), it is a similar situation. Though I really don’t condemn people who do choose to undergo plastic surgery to correct something they have spent their lives feeling self-conscious about, I admit that I do wonder if they are short-changing themself of the powerful amount of spiritual growth that can come through relying on the Lord for a change of heart, and learning to love our bodies exactly as they are created, as a sacred and divine gift of God.

    Just a thought.

  50. Leslie

    September 1, 2009

    Just V- I don’t think Kate is implying that. I thought she is making a valid connection between the increase in pornography consumption/media saturation and it’s pushdown into mainstream media (i.e. eroticism in ads, etc). The image of a sexually attractive woman is being prescribed by the norms of pornography.

    I have to say I also find the trend toward plastic surgery slightly ironic if you look at it the history of beauty anthropologically, mate selection and natural selection and all as seeking the evolution and dominance of certain characteristics and features.

  51. Kate

    September 1, 2009

    Just V.
    No, certainly not.

    But aren’t we being naive to think that these two relatively recent and rampantly spreading behaviors are simply coincidental? That it is just a crazy coincidence that young husbands are spending hours watching porn models with altered breasts and then, married women in the same demographic are seeking that surgery?

  52. Just V.

    September 1, 2009

    Leslie, you are right, I am sure there is a valid connection between the rise of pornography, and the objectifying of women in general, and the idea of what is considered attractive. Kate, obviously the spread “in these behaviors”(breast enhancement and pornography) are not simply coincidental. What a relief that you are not making wide generalizations. When you say, “when I look around my little ward….and know eight(!) women who have boob jobs, I can’t help but wonder about that connection in their marriages”, I am glad it is only those eight creepy couples in your ward that you suspect of having a connection to pornography.

  53. Jenny

    September 1, 2009

    Among many others, this is one of the questions I have reserved for the time I can spend in retrospection when I pass [back] through the veil of forgetfulness. Will it even need to be asked at that point? What does our Father in Heaven want us to learn from the experience of “owning” a body here on earth? It’s hard to camp on either side of the argument when ultimately, by claiming a position, we become judges here. A most excellent topic, Leslie.

  54. Melissa M.

    September 1, 2009

    Shelah (#45), sadly, no matter how much exercise I do, my breasts refuse to regain their perkiness (and I’d love to know your secret 🙂 ). I do miss my young breasts. I remember when it hit me that my small, saggy breasts were here to stay: I had just weaned my last child and was shopping for a bra and had to go down a whole cup size. I was thinking at the back of my mind, “Oh well, when I get pregnant again and then am nursing, I’ll be voluptuous again.” And then it hit me: I wasn’t going to get pregnant again, ever, and my curvaceous days were over; I would have these pitiful little breasts for the rest of my life. A shocking realization, to be sure. I bought a padded bra and have worn one ever since. Sad story.

  55. Lee

    September 1, 2009

    I want to chime in again. Leslie I truly feel if the media wasn’t saying this is what is beautiful. This is what we need to look like to be beautiful we as women wouldn’t have these issues. I will stand up and say right now I have struggled immensely with my body image. I don’t always love it. But where do those feelings come from? They aren’t from our Heavenly Father.
    How does Satan get into our home? How does he influence us? He makes us feel like we are of little worth. That if we don’t look like the images in the media and what we are told is beautiful that we aren’t. It consumes us. We worry more about that than we do about serving others. It takes our priorities off of what is good and holy. It takes them off of what is right. It puts our focus on us, and how unhappy we are with how we look. I heard Sheri L Dew talk about how the biggest way Satan gets into our homes is by us and our self doubt and negative self worth. We don’t have the type of charity for ourselves that we need to have.
    I believe strongly that if we saw ourselves the way Christ saw us we wouldn’t feel the need. How often do we look at someone we meet and think, man if they had big boobs they would look so much better, or if their nose was smaller they would be so much prettier. No we don’t judge them like that. We see the good, the beauty. We should do that with ourselves more. We should shut the media out.
    I have friends I love who have had enhancements. And they love them. A few have regretted it.
    Honestly I get so ticked at the media. They have unreal women. They push this perfect image so much that it is shoved down our throats. It’s not from our Heavenly Father.
    And thanks Leslie. I hope my daughter will never question who she is.

  56. Just V.

    September 1, 2009

    Lee, I loved your comments, and I agree completely.

  57. Lee

    September 1, 2009

    And those who do choose to do it, I don’t judge them. Like I said I have several friends who have done it. Some are my closest friends. But I will do everything I can to teach my daughter and any girl I am ever able to teach to love her body as it is, to embrace the wonderful body her Heavenly Father has blessed her with. For me my body isn’t the healthiest. I have many issues that often cause great struggles. But it is my body. I came here to receive this body, a gift from my Heavenly Father. And I will do my best to treat it right. And I will do my best to teach my children the same. And I will do my best to keep the influence of the media away from my body.

  58. Jessica

    September 1, 2009

    Maybe I have a biased opinion, having had “plastic surgery” twice in my “young” (22) life. For some it may seem shallow but for me it worked. It made me happy. I am able to stand in front of people and worry more about what they are saying then what they are thinking about me. I don’t feel like I should have to explain my reasons to anyone. But for the record, it was a matter of fasting and prayer. I am pretty darn sure that my “plastic” isn’t going to keep me from the celestial kingdom. If it does, I wouldn’t want to go anyways…

    Kate- as far as the connection between boobs and porn… do some research. As part of my undergrad, I did an extensive amount of research on pornography (its effects on families, marriage, prevelance, etc). While I am in no way an “expert”, I would like to point something out that was overlooked. The Internet. The invent and popularity of the internet has be a major contributor to the rise of pornography – Not because people are getting larger breasts. People have easy access to pornography now. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, you had to go to a sex shop or the “back room” of the video store. Now, it is just a click away. So, I would state the the rise of ease of availability has contributed to the increase in pornography- not boobs.

    And amen ! Just V!!! 🙂

  59. Leslie

    September 1, 2009

    I you misread what Kate was suggesting was that the increase in breast augmentation (across a demographic NOT specific individuals) correlates with the increase use/viewing of pornography by again a given demographic. That as pornography has increased (yes with the accessiblity of the internet key #1) more women are turning to augmentation in a response to their perception of the sexual ideal. I think we’re talking about a whole, not individuals, I think she used an number example to show the prevalence of such procedures not insinuating anything about those individuals relationships.

  60. Sweet Em

    September 1, 2009

    After having thought about this I have another comment.

    I’ve already stated my shock that plastic surgery is a norm for some groups, however, in discussing this topic with the attitude that “God gave us this body we should play what was dealt us” I wonder if any of us would say that to a cancer patient as a reason for not getting treatment (I certainly hope not). In both instances the genetics of the body (often) play a role. Well, actually I guess with cancer you have the desire to preserve life, so there is a substantial difference.

    Instead I’ll ask the question about a woman who uses medical intervention to get pregnant (as I have done twice). God gave me this body that doesn’t concieve on its own (or carry children to term that well either). That fact has often made me HATE my body, and severely injured my spirituality. Conceiving through an expensive treatment gave me a pregnant belly that I cherished (and stretch marks that I hate…the irony). Being pregnant with my beautiful babies has restored my mental health in ways I can’t begin to express my gratitude for. Just as some have said plastic surgery has done for them.

    I guess I’m arguing the other side here, since I would hesitate at advising someone to get plastic surgery, or doing it myself (never say never). I don’t think this is a complete thought/arguement; I’m just sharing a thought.

  61. Sunny

    September 1, 2009

    Kate,

    I thought the question you raised was spot on. I have heard women express this very reason for wanting to change their bodies. They feel they need to compete with the images their husbands are seeking out. I don’t believe this is every woman’s reason. I have friends who have various enhancements and changes for various reasons. Among those though, there have been some whose stories I knew enough about that they were comfortable saying they did it either in hopes of winning back their husband’s desire or to at least not feel embarrassed in front of him, knowing what he found attractive in other women.

    I do believe that the more pornography is mainstreamed the more many women feel pressure to become what they see. I think another thing we’re overlooking is that in changing ourselves for that reason we are inviting men to relate to us in a way they should not be relating to anyone. Meaning, we are asking them to value us for shallow appetite-driven reasons. If we want to talk about “what God intended”, we shouldn’t ignore how He intended us to relate to one another sexually. We are fed a counterfeit view of sexuality. We adopt it and then find ourselves in a desolate land of trying to fill a spiritual desire to become one flesh in a way which only perpetuates insatiable physical desires. We are left empty by the counterfeit.

    I guess what I’m saying is that enhancement surgery is not a black and white issue. Only the individual making the choice really knows their intent. When that intent is rooted in gaining sexual power it is wrong simply because it is meant to awaken and cater to appetites which are destructive to both male and female. No, I’m not saying sex is bad. I’m saying there are ways we relate to each other sexually that actually drive a wedge instead of bringing us closer.

    Sorry for the tangential nature of the comment.

  62. Angela

    September 1, 2009

    Just because someone is a stake president doen’t mean their opinion on plastic surgery means any more than anyone else. You are not thankful and appreciating your body if you have to do plastic surgery for anything other than medical reasons. “If it makes you happy what’s wrong with that?” Come on! You could apply that to anything…alcohal, drugs, adultry…

  63. Mrs. Organic

    September 1, 2009

    I am just astounded at the amount of judgement in the comments. Your body is yours to treat well, that’s it. You don’t get to make choices for anyone else (excepting minors in your care).

    And you don’t have to make the same choices someone else might – you get to make your own and live with the consequences. IMO, that’s the best part of God’s plan.

  64. Plain Jame

    September 2, 2009

    My opinion has evolved over the years. From fine with it, until I had my first daughter and I was against it. Now I stay away from forming an opinion because there is no right answer.

    For us to assume how our Heavenly Father must feel is not our place. It’s also not our place where we get to decide which people pass our test as being OK to have it done. I think it is definitely a personal decision for each individual and their motives.

    That being said, it does frustrate me to see how mainstream and common it is and for people to obsess over their appearance and downright HATE themselves – it’s sad to see that be such a driving factor. The lack of gratitude.

    I love this blog post – thank you. I echo your sentiment.

  65. Plain Jame

    September 2, 2009

    Oh yeah, anyone get the thought of Dr. Suess’s the “Sneetches”. The star-bellied sneetches and ones that dont have stars upon thars…

    anyone?.. anyone??

  66. m&m

    September 2, 2009

    Just because someone is a stake president doen’t mean their opinion on plastic surgery means any more than anyone else.

    I could agree with this, particularly in the context given.

    But not this:
    You are not thankful and appreciating your body if you have to do plastic surgery for anything other than medical reasons.

    That is an over-the-top comment. Perhaps you have never experienced truly crushing body issues. I think it’s important not to make rash and overgeneralized judgments like this.

    For all that it drives me crazy sometimes, there are few things like this that are black and white. God takes us where we are, and works with us from where we are. And that journey is SO personal, so individual.

    I think it’s best to stick with discussing the concerns about trends, which I imagine most if not all of us share, rather than making judgments about INDIVIDUALS

  67. Mrs. Organic

    September 2, 2009

    m&m – bravo.

  68. julie

    September 2, 2009

    “There was a girl in my stake growing up who got a nose job right after high school. I did not blame her one bit. I always felt bad for her as her nose was distracting. So, sometimes I think it can be a good thing.”

    –Yikes! Does no one else find this attitude disturbing? Really?

    “But really, is it SO different from shopping for expensive shaping bras or using age defying lotions and makeup”

    –Uh…YES. (?!)

    I still don’t understand why elective cosmetic surgery is a ‘not black and white individual decision’ and yet having a tattoo or a nose ring is totally black and white and spelled out. Nope, those are all worthy of condemnation but wanting perky breasts again? Have at it. No one sees the sexual component in this hypocrisy? Or the trend within mormonism to demonize anything that makes you stand-out and to embrace cultural trends of conformity (insert all the modesty discussions in the bloggernacle here)?

  69. traci

    September 2, 2009

    I have had plastic surgery to fix facial problems from a birth defect. I am missing my left eye from birth. The lid was closed and laid clear down into my cheek. The plastic surgeon lifted the lid so it is always open. This took more than one surgery. I do not believe I could have ever gotten a job etc without having the surgeries.
    Now my eye is always open. Kids notice it the most. But I do not believe it is as noticable as it was in the previous position.

    At the time the Dr. asked if there was anything else I would like to discuss. My sister kept saying – Your nose, your nose. I still don’t see the problem with my nose. But if it looked to me as “standoutish” as my eye did, I would have done it in a heart beat. Because when people came up to me – that is what they asked about – what is wrong with your eye? Not my name.

    By the way – this Dr’s practice centered around doing surgery for disfigured faces from our Vietnam vets – it is all in the purpose and finding out more than the reasons we think.

  70. Leslie

    September 2, 2009

    In the many calls against judgement I thik we also have to respect and not judge people’s philosophies as well-this can apply to those on both sides of the line. I think saying your philosphy is judgemental can also be judgemental?

    My other thoughts were this last month my husband and were at the smithsonian – natl portrait gallery- We spent hours looking at portraits. I was stopped in my tracks by the beauty and power of the images. Most of the most moving portraits were not of “glamourous people”. I appreciated as I have never have before the variety to our features and forms, the inherent beauty and power in them and it I felt a loss for the homogenization that is occuring because of our media messages about beauty.

  71. Peyton

    September 2, 2009

    I’ve only read 2/3 of the comments by now, but I think we’re putting too much blame on modern society and marketing and the internet. The idealization of the most minute fraction of society as “beautiful” has existed as long as there has been civilization. Men and women have always gone through ridiculous cosmetic procedures in order to match their society’s ideal — makeup has been around since ancient Egypt, the Chinese practiced foot-binding for centuries, and tribal cultures around the world have tattooed and decoratively scarred themselves forever. Where is the marketing there? And things like foot-binding or head- and neck-stretching, for instance, started at infantcy and could cause life-long health problems in an effort to be beautiful.

    Honestly, I think as much or more than the marketing is the control males have over the collective female psyche (I’m speaking about men as a culture, not individuals; please don’t come back with “But *I* don’t think that Angelina Jolie is beautiful!”). Many of the things women use to be attractive were either invented by men or for men — high heels, hose, makeup, corsets. When women see men nowadays flocking to films featuring Megan Fox and Angelina Jolie, especially in the younger, more virile, demographic (ages 15–35, say), are women not supposed to assume that this is what men are looking for, and that the closer we can get to this ideal, the more likely we are to get these men? Biological imperative, anyone?

    I’m not going to make any judgments on plastic surgery, except to say that if we’re going to do it, I’m glad to live in an era where I (theoretically) would have a sterile environment to do it and a relatively short recovery period before being able to live my normal life again.

  72. Dovie

    September 2, 2009

    Plastic surgery does not hold a lot of personal appeal for me. I think I am very exceptionally “average” looking. Not beautiful or ugly just very very average I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “you look just like..you remind me of…or are you so and so’s sister or cousin, do I know you? You look so familiar to me…” I might consider it if there was something that made me stand out in a negative way and it hindered me emotionally, socially and perhaps then in turn spiritually. That said Cindy Baldwin’s (#49) insights were quite profound.

    In our culture generally there is much of excess and vanity when in comes to our bodies. Often it does cross the line to the spiritually destructive, but not always. I think that the inverse can be true. That sometimes the surgical remedy can be positive thing and can contribute to spiritual well being.
    A good friend had gastric bypass a few years ago. It has blessed her life in so many ways both spiritually and physically. After losing so much weight her body is somewhat distorted and she feels uncomfortable wearing a bathing suit to swim with her children at a public pool or a shirt with sleeves that are less that 3/4 length or shorts. She feels it makes her a target for negative attention, she feels sometimes like a spectacle. The exercise that she would engage in before the surgery was difficult because of her weight and the stress it put on her spine. After the surgery and the dramatic weight loss it is much improved but the excess skin sometimes is problematic. She has even received uncomfortable disparaging comments made to her by medical professionals in a health care setting that necessitated her disrobing. She was and is very beautiful there are just some elements of her body that are now not typical. I’m sure she has learned a lot about what is most important from these experiences but she would if the circumstances were right, the finances were right and the Spirit consented, have some of the excess skin removed in what is called a “body lift”.

    My husband (a handsome man) is self conscious about his nose. He feels it is big and crooked. A few years ago he flew back east for his grandfather’s funeral. He saw cousins he had not seen in 20 or so years. The first thing they said to him was “You got Granddad’s gigantic nose!” Nice. He had spent his adolescence trying not to feel bad about it and as an adult finally feeling at peace about his appearance. Thanks cousins. On occasion he has mused that he might do something about it. Thing is I love the way he looks now. I believe I will love the way he looks in 20, or 30 years and whatever time, gravity and mortality brings. I hope that he feels the same about me.

    If either of of us had something causing a lot of actual distress and pain and had carefully considered the options and the benefit outweighed the cost then I would hope we could be mutually supportive.

    I do have some small experience standing out in a negative way and desperately wanting a remedy. When I was young I had a terrible overbite. So bad that it was difficult for me to close my lips over my teeth. My last name rhymed with beaver so let me tell you braces were a blessed relief. I could be finally be average in this regard.

    I am also terribly nearsighted and about the time the braces came off I got contacts. I was able to wear them until about 12 years ago with my third pregnancy something in my body chemistry changed and my eyes would no longer tolerate them. I do think that I look better without glasses; the lenses are so thick, and the prescription is so strong that my eyes look tiny and distorted behind them. Despite this I am for the most part at peace with my bespectacled self. Occasionally I dream of laser eye surgery. So far I’ve let it stay a dream for a few of reasons.

    First my eye doctor says that my level of myopia astigmatism puts me on the border of it not being a feasible option to correct. Essentially there may not be enough lens material for them to “laser” off. As long as I don’t go and ask anyone one about it I can still dream about the possibility.

    Secondly I think that since my vision can be reasonably if not perfectly corrected with my pop bottle glasses can I really be justified in spending that much of my resources ($5,000) on my eyes when there are children starving around the world. I just don’t know how to reconcile these two things.

    Thirdly I’ve passed this genetic trait to all four of my daughters in various degrees. None of them are as nearsighted as I am but there is a certain kinship that I feel with them that I feel I might betray if I were to get my eyes surgically corrected.

    The one trump card that might push me over the edge is swimming. I love to swim. I’ve not been able to truly swim with my children because I have to wear my glasses to see. When I was a child and a teen water play was fine in a fuzzy world. Now that I have children that is not an option. I need to be able to see them with as perfect of vision, or as much as as this high index contoured poly carbonate can muster for me. However this is not a true hardship by any creative stretch of the imagination.

    All of these things that we feel so anxious about to correct or just dream about correcting our ancestors just had to live with. Psychological and emotional injury from disfigurement can be as real as physical injury. It is a wonderful thing to live in a time where we have been blessed with the ability to do healing work or be healed in these amazing ways. When correctly utilized plastic surgery and and more broadly modern medicine gives us the marvelous opportunity to be healers and be healed and mirror in a clumsy unsophisticated way some very small measure the work the Savor did when he walked the earth. How wonderful is that? That the Lord has blessed me with eyes that work well enough and has put me in a place and time that there are works of men that are a marvelous blessing to me is enough. Every time I walk out of the optometrist office with a new prescription I am so grateful for the careful practice of that simple healing art; oh and that the trees have leaves… beautiful individual leaves.

  73. Millie

    September 2, 2009

    Every woman deserves to feel beautiful – and as Brigham Young said, we’ve been given our wonderful bodies to take care of and beautify as much as is reasonably possible – but how much is reasonable? I try to look nice and correct what needs correcting with a minimum of time, money and pain. But some things aren’t that easy to correct, and judging others for dealing with their body issues with elective surgery is not worth my time.

    It takes away from our intelligence to say that we’re being influenced by the media to decide what’s pretty and what isn’t. Even if there were no TV or films, I’d still think that straight white teeth are prettier than stained crooked teeth. Long before those outlets existed, women were wearing corsets and binding their feet and stretching their necks with metal rings.

    On a side note: If President Hinckley hadn’t come right out and said, “No piercings except for one hole per ear,” I’d have a teensy sapphire in my nostril this minute. I’ve always thought Indian women with their bejeweled faces were lovely.

  74. Leslie

    September 2, 2009

    Peyton and Millie- As a social scienticist, I’ve read alot on media influence, I don’t think we’re assigning too much blame there. There are many studies to support the impact of image based media/marketing on womens body image and behaviors and the concerning thing is also that even in the last decade that influence in becoming more pronounced (the studies have found the form of media doesn’t matter either print, TV, etc). I would appreciate seeing a body of knowledge that supports otherwise. I don’t think this is a slander to our intelligence, but speaks rather to the nature of the way our brain processes large amounts of information and stores it even without our conscious knowledge. I think most people would be fascinated to know the way that marketing does effect people (slightly tangential but interesting findings even note teenagers perceptions of satisfaction with their parents and lives are influencned by the number of commercials they watch)

    I am sure this is in part due to our heavily media saturated lifestyles which was not an element so influential in prior gererations/ages.

    yes- the quest for beauty spans cultures and generations. While footbinding and neck stretching seems barabaric to us, I think people outside our modern cultural realm would consider creating slits in your body and inserting bags full of water in your breasts equally strange and shocking?

    I don’t know if you have ever read Nancy Etcoff’s survival of the prettiest but it an enjoyable read on social, cultural, anthropological underpinnings and implications of beauty. She address the innateness of beauty (e.g. babies will stare longer at what is considered a beautiful face than a not beautiful face) and the culturally defined aspects of beauty.

    I do agree some of these factors are indirect, through men to women’s perceptions of men’s desired ideals. Yet the biological imperative is true, yet ironic because plastic surgery is an exact smack in the face of natural selection?

  75. april

    September 2, 2009

    I never thought of my lasik surgery as “cosmetic.” I got it done when my first baby was 2 months old. Before then, I was so blind that in the middle of the night I had to put on my glasses before I could tell if my baby was asleep or not – and she was sleeping a foot away from me. There were lots of reasons I got the surgery, and most of them would definately fall into the convenience category, however I would say that very little, if any of my desire for lasik was vanity based. In fact, I loved the look of my last pair of glasses so much that I miss wearing them sometimes.
    Anyway, I guess this is a tangent, but I think it can be applied to other “cosmetic” surgeries – there are many reasons, not all of them “vain” for why people get surgery. And I agree that we should only judge for ourselves.
    Lastly, as I have gotten older, I have noticed that I appreciate a wider variety of beauty then I did when I was younger, and I am trying to be as charitable when I appraise my own appearance as I am toward others.

  76. N

    September 2, 2009

    When we got married, we decided not to have a television (Another discussion for another time). I’ve never paid for fashion magazines – so those I see in waiting rooms are the only ones I come across. And after something over a decade, I’m starting to appreciate how well this has insulated me from certain trends. When my husband tells me my stretch marks are “cool-looking” and that when they fade to silver (the early ones have) they’re actually quite beautiful, I have no trouble believing him – although (and this is interesting) I did at first. I’ve become an unintentional experiment in avoiding media images of women – and I think it’s been helpful for me. To sum up: I think some of the unideal ‘ideals’ we compare ourselves to are so integrated into our regular diet of media that we often don’t even notice the underlying assumptions.

  77. Justine

    September 2, 2009

    I didn’t seem to care as much about body image back when I was in great shape. Now that I feel like a marshmallow, I find I care a great deal more. I hate being so vain.

    But I don’t really notice anyone else’s imperfections, yet I assume everyone is noticing mine.

  78. jendoop

    September 2, 2009

    Leslie, I agree that marketing effects us far more than we’ll ever know. Why would a company pay over a million dollars for a Superbowl ad if there weren’t proven results attached? It could be called pride to think you are above the influences around you that effect ‘everyone else’.

    Remember in the Old Testament, when the Lord commanded his people to invade an area and destroy everything and kill everyone in that land, so that nothing was left? It was so the conquered culture would have no lingering effects on his holy people. I’m not saying that is what we should do now, but it does show me that God knows how much his children are effected by environment and culture.

  79. Catherine

    September 2, 2009

    I am against plastic surgery, unless it’s for medical reasons (cleft palate, after a car accident, etc.). I have always been self-conscious about certain parts of my body (I think most women are), but I simply remind myself that I am lucky to be healthy, have a body that works, and most important, God blessed me with this body, and I should respect it.
    I just can’t imagine having plastic surgery, and then telling my (future) children, esp. daughters, that they are perfect just the way they are – it seems hypocritical.
    I agree with the commenter who said to avoid looking at beauty magazines. My life is much better now that I avoid celebrity magazines and sites.
    On a semi-related note, I know several people who are obsessed with becoming supermodels. I don’t understand it. Why keep perpetuating the myth to young girls that you have to look a certain way? It’s just sad.

  80. The Wiz

    September 2, 2009

    Slightly off topic, but in defense of Lasik – I have NEVER thought of Lasik as cosmetic. It surprises me that people do. My vision could be corrected by contacts, so nobody could tell the difference when they weren’t there. It’s been 3 (almost 4) years and I still marvel at the miracle that is normal eyesight. I was paranoid that in an emergency, I wouldn’t be able to see to get my kids and myself out of the house, or what was going on, if my glasses were destroyed, or I couldn’t get to my contacts. I was pretty blind, and searching through fuzzy rubble scared me. Of course, the odds of that are slim, but still. Preparedness.

    As to the financial – it was a lot closer to 3K (not 5K) and frankly, I don’t spend a dime on contact solution, contact lenses, cases, or glasses frames anymore (I never had vision insurance that covered any of that). I don’t have to update my look on glasses every few years, and spent far less time and money on eye exams. I think in the long run, it actually saves money.

    I think it’s fun to watch old movies with stunningly beautiful actresses, and lo and behold! Their teeth aren’t blindingly white! The teeth thing is weird. Teeth aren’t naturally blindingly white. Even kid’s teeth. It can be written off as part of the efforts to look younger, but are your kids teeth super white?

  81. Zina

    September 2, 2009

    There is so much that is interesting about this topic to me that it’s going to be hard to pare down my comments to a few observations (but I’ll try.)

    I think the question some people raised about what our “prime” will turn out to be when we’re resurrected is an interesting one–but I find the idea that any of us might be unhappy with whatever perfect standard is “imposed” on us to be laughable: I feel confident that whatever an eternal standard of beauty turns out to be, it’s going to be, well, beautiful. And glorious. And stunning. And pretty much beyond mortal comprehension.

    I agree both that it’s wonderful that surgery is available to help correct disfigurements or even alleviate causes of severe self-consciousness, but I also agree that to the extent that elective cosmetic surgery becomes prevalent, what that says about society as a whole *is* troubling.

    I was interested that someone brought up foot binding as a comparison. I hadn’t thought much about foot binding before this year, when I read a book set in China that featured foot binding, and I did a little research on it. I think previously I had imagined that foot binding was wrapping the feet tightly while a child was small, so that the feet wouldn’t grow too much, which seemed bad but not horrific. Maybe I was the last to learn this, but it was much worse than that–it was done when a child was a few years old and was a process that took years, that broke and severely disfigured the feet, and caused excruciating pain, and decreased or eliminated the ability to walk. I found and read some personal accounts by women in China who’d had their feet bound, and they described having cried constantly for years during the time it was done to them. And, while it was certainly intended to appeal to men, it was not the men doing the foot-binding: it was the girls’ own mothers or grandmothers. And what was most painful to me was the realization that, if I’d lived in that time and culture, I VERY likely would have done this to my daughters. Usually the only girls who didn’t have it done were peasants from negligent families, who weren’t expected to marry well, or gypsies, but if you had any hope of social promotion or well-being, you bound your daughters’ feet. Of course I’d love to think I could have been the one to buck the trend (we Americans value and romanticize individualism so highly,) but as I read about the traditions in those times I doubted I really would have had the kind of courage to seemingly deprive my child of her opportunities for prosperity and happiness.

    I’ll let you all decide whether and how foot-binding compares with prevalent plastic surgery in our culture.

    I will say that I care a lot about how I look, and in recent years, as childbearing and more than one chronic health condition have changed my appearance in ways I wouldn’t have chosen, adjusting to and accepting those changes has consumed more of my emotional energy than I’d wish. However, I do really try to be grateful for the (still mostly-working) body I’ve been given, and I *try* to present a cheerful and confident appearance, not just for my own sake, but to try to share with other women an attitude that one can be happy no matter how we look. If we’re constantly bemoaning our own flaws, we can’t help implying judgment on others. (This is often done innocently enough, but so few women in our oh-so-body-conscious culture seem to consider that when they bewail a five pound weight gain, it *might* be hurtful to the women present who are fifty pounds heavier than they are.)

    The other day I was saying to my husband (as I say too often,) “I really wish I weren’t this size now, but this is how my body responded to five kids and health problems, and I have to keep reminding myself that the kids were totally worth it. And these were the years when I could have kids.” He said, “Yes, and you’ll have all eternity [to have a body more to your liking.]”

  82. Angela

    September 2, 2009

    Just want you all to know, I wasn’t the Angela who said “You are not thankful and appreciating your body if you have to do plastic surgery for anything other than medical reasons.” I disagree with that statement on a number of levels, and I disagree with a lot of the judgment that people have expressed here in these comments. To be honest, I wonder if people would ever say some of the unkind comments expressed here if they were talking to a woman, face to face, who they KNEW had had plastic surgery. Even the superficially kind but unkind underneath-style comments along the lines of “I feel so sorry for women who’ve had plastic surgery!” set my teeth on edge.

    It’s so easy to judge or feel sorry for “them”–until “they” are right there in front of us. And I guarantee there are a number Segullah readers who’ve had plastic surgery and thought and prayed about their decision and feel GOOD about it. Not because they’re shallow or vain or want to look like a porn star. But because it was right for them.

    We can talk all day about why people do all SORTS of things: watch reality tv, eat at McDonald’s, put their kids in child care at the gym, wear flashy high-heeled shoes, stay up past midnight. At some point, it’s not our business to judge people for these choices. Or “feel sorry” for them. Plastic surgery, in my opinion, is not sin. It’s not a black an white issue like shoplifting or cheating on your husband. So while I can totally understand why some people have an aversion to plastic surgery–I totally understand this–also realize that other people may have made informed, rational, even (yes) spirit-guided decisions to do it.

  83. Carina

    September 2, 2009

    I’ll be completely honest.

    I HATE PLASTIC SURGERY.

    I hate it. Yes, there are good and honest reasons to have plastic surgery, like reconstructive, birth defects, accidents, and so on. That’s not what I’m talking about.

    I’m guilty of the sin of vanity, I truly am, but what we as women, and increasingly men, are doing to our bodies is beyond vanity, it’s like super-vanity, and it’s abhorrent. Maybe you should have to look in the face of a starving child before you fork over your 10,000 out of pocket to a plastic surgeon.

    WHAT ARE WE DOING TO OURSELVES?

    What are we saying is OK to do in the name of self esteem, or lust?

    We’re cutting our body with knives, taking drugs, inserting inert objects into the voids, in the hope of healing an emotional rift or to satisfy the lust of a man. I can’t even communicate how horrific it feels to me. I don’t hate you, but what you’ve done to yourself is shocking.

    I could not look my child in the face after having selected to do that to the body that was given to me. It feels like we’re using plastic surgery for two reasons, self-esteem or lust. Really? You would cut your body to turn yourself into a sexual object to please men? And who are these men who would agree to mutilation?

    For the record, this body after two children, and after the rest I pray to be given, will never be the same. I didn’t enjoy my body when it was perfect. It’s not perfect by the world’s standards, or even your standards now, but it IS PERFECT. My body is useful. It services a purpose, my body is holy, it is healthy, it is a vessel of light, and I will not reduce it to pieces.

    How can you say to your child that their body isn’t beautiful, isn’t perfect, isn’t a gift, isn’t a treasure, instead it is something to be picked apart, tucked in, cut, sliced, shaped, broken into pieces, reduced to good parts and bad, because that is what you are doing when you elect plastic surgery, that is what you are telling your child. Even when you tell them that it makes you feel better, that you always had an emotion need to change it, that your husband wanted you to.

    The feminist in me is screaming; it’s wrong, it’s wrong, it’s wrong.

    It’s MADNESS.

    And I’m not sorry.

  84. Emily C

    September 2, 2009

    I always said “no way” until I met my mother-in-law, who had her first set of implants more than 12 years ago.

    But now I think I’ll say no for myself, because I LOVE my post-baby body. I think the fact that my husband has a body that can’t always get out of bed gives me particular appreciation for this physical form.

    I’m not going to make the decision as to what’s reasonable for anyone else, though. Just like I’m not going to tell you my thoughts on drinking diet coke with lime, unless you ask what I do myself.

  85. Carina

    September 2, 2009

    p.s. I used to be very much in the school of “if that is what you want to do to feel better, go for it!” In fact, I had planned before I had children to get things put back to “normal.” And now? The idea that I would take this body and disrespect it so much to fit a worldly ideal is incomprehensible.

    Where do you stop? My neighbors can’t stop, they’ve kept injecting and tucking to the point of lunacy. I want to scream at them, You’re going to get old. This is not a defective flaw, it’s what we’re supposed to do.

    YOU ARE NOT A DESIGN FLAW. YOU ARE PERFECT THE WAY YOU ARE.

  86. dalene

    September 2, 2009

    i find it really interesting about our culture (not our religion–our culture) that a people who obviously (by their mere presence on the earth) fought so dearly for their own agency seems to have such a difficult time respecting the agency of others to choose for themselves.

  87. Just V.

    September 2, 2009

    Angela and Dalene,
    Thank you for saying exactly what I have been thinking about this blog all day. Instead of feeling closer to all of you as sisters in the Gospel, these kinds of posts just leave me feeling sad, frustrated, judged, and misunderstood. Definitely not what I imagine the Savior wants for us.

  88. Carina

    September 2, 2009

    Look, people can choose with their agency, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it, and it doesn’t mean they have to listen to me. They don’t. Feel free to ignore me.

    I’m not calling anyone to repentance, that’s not my job, I wouldn’t dare.

    But what are we doing to ourselves? What are we doing to the beautiful bodies that were gifted to us?

  89. Angela

    September 2, 2009

    My last post didn’t show up with my avatar or website, but I wanted to be clear that I’m glad to post as myself. (I’m the most recent Angela, the one who was despairing about the amount of judgment in these posts.)

    Carina, while I understand your passion on this issue, decisions like these are intensely personal. There are lots of issues where women have passionate feelings, but respecting another person’s right to have a different feeling and make a different choice in matters like these is SO IMPORTANT. You say, “the idea that I would take this body and disrespect it so much to fit a worldly ideal is incomprehensible.” It is incomprehensible TO YOU. But for some women, it could be the right choice. Please allow for that possibility.

  90. Leslie

    September 2, 2009

    Angela #82-I would assume a number of the readers have had procedures. I appreciate hearing their perspectives in fact I wish they would share their “stories so to speak” so that people could gain more insight into their motivations, experience, etc. (i.e. I thought jennie’s first comment of the post was important to the discussion.) I for one would love to have face to face open conversations with people who have had plastic surgeries and would to know more about their feelings, motivations, concerns on the issue.

    Just V- I hope you appreciate my intention in writing the post is to explore the cultural shift/phenonmenon, because I see this as a salient women’s issue of our day. It came out of my extreme disturbance at seeing such a bizarre barbie that was not unreachable as an ideal but completely man made in terms of the shape and form of the features. I raised it in the context of faith as well because our understanding and expectation of our bodies is different from any other religion and we have also had modern day prophets comment on this topic.

    Again I will reiterate what I wrote ealier. I think with all the calls against judgement we need to reserve judgement against anothers philosophy as well. I can appreciate that others have a different viewpoint, but isn’t this how it is on many things (drinking coke, sabbath day activites). LDS are often “persecuted” for our beliefs using the same line- “why are you judging me”, I think our beliefs and interpretations are that, and for I respect them on both sides, appreciate them can can disagree without offense. Everyone has to have their own position. I think everyone should be able to state their philosophies. While some may argue with Carina I applaud her for having an strong position and being willing to share it and explain it.

  91. Melissa M.

    September 2, 2009

    Angela (#82) I just knew that had to be a different Angela posting yesterday. 🙂

  92. Leslie

    September 2, 2009

    I think alot of the conversation is focusing on people trying to determine whether it’s right for anyone? (or at least thats how everyone seems ot end their comments) I doubt anyone would say that in 100% of the cases it is unjustified and wrong. I have seen many cases where something is elective and yet borderlines on defect/disfigurement. There are many factors to consider. (again as a psychosocial expert for the Vascular birthmarks foundation- I know that looking different brings many stares and comments, and can have a significant impact on your life!)

    What I would really love to hear more on is maybe a response to elder hollands’ comment- How much is going too far? When does it become that “vanity” where is the spiritually destructive point? Is the destructive thing not so much the procedures but the inherent philosphies that are pervading, and distorting our belief systems. And how do you see this a women’s issue/trend? What does it mean for your daughters?

    (man this is making me kind of glad to have 3 sons who don’t have to navigate the same body image mine field- I hope to raise them love women for all their personal beauty and power, no matter their shape and size. I will admit to a fabulous body image discussion last night with my 8 and 4 yr old at dinner)

  93. Deborah

    September 2, 2009

    This messianic verse from Isaiah often comes to mind when I ponder our culture’s diseased concept of beauty:

    “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”

    Individuals can make prayerful choices. I don’t dispute that. But when plastic surgery is *more* prevalent in Mormon culture than in the already beauty-obsessed American culture at large . . . we have some fundamental reflecting to do, as Mormon women, on what we value, how we feel about ourselves, how we view the body, and what we are communicating to the next generation about the source of beauty.

    P.S. Starfoxy wrote a lovely post on beauty recently: http://the-exponent.com/2009/08/30/empathy/ . . .

  94. dalene

    September 2, 2009

    for the record, my comment about agency was not directed at anyone in particular or even this particular issue. it was merely an observation of what i have witnessed a number of times on this blog (and other social media, in my neighborhood and at church.

  95. Sue

    September 2, 2009

    I’m 57 and am not considering plastic surgery. I would, however, consider it if a health issue were involved…like the earlier example of losing a lot of weight and having to deal with cumbersome amounts of extra skin or the like. I would also have a breast reduction if the weight of my breasts caused back pain.

    I had a friend in high school with an unusually large nose that had a bump on it. She hated it, so when she got a nose job, I was happy for her.

    Having said all of that, I do think our society is going overboard with the plastic surgery explosion…and it is an explosion. Youth is glorified to an unnatural degree, and beauty seems to be relegated to a certain, stereotypical look that is not representative of most women. To some extent, individuality is lost in this process, and it is certain that natural deviations and differences from the norm are devalued by this one-look-fits-all mindset. If I were a plastic surgeon, I would need to make sure that the surgeries I was performing did not contribute to this trend because I wouldn’t want to enable it in any way.

    As for my wrinkles, I’ll be keeping them. I guess I’ll be relying on the sparkle in my eyes and a big, friendly smile to show my beauty.

    I think that will be enough.

    =)

  96. jen

    September 2, 2009

    Carina,
    I think I love you.

    Well said, woman.

    What has pushed me over into this “camp” is the alarming number of friends and relatives nipping and tucking themselves into people I hardly recognize.

  97. Angela

    September 2, 2009

    Carina, you posted just as I was posting, so I understand what you’re saying–that you’re not calling anyone to repentance but don’t have to like it. That’s a completely valid point of view.

    But some of the language that’s used in these posts (and I’m not speaking to anyone specifically here) is disparaging enough that it’s no wonder people aren’t coming forward and talking about their own plastic surgery. Would such language ever be used if we were writing about other hot button topics, like home schooling or moms in the workforce or choosing to get divorced or political affiliation? I don’t think so. But it’s okay in this context?

    Again, let’s please remember: there are plenty of righteous, intelligent, thoughtful, wonderful LDS women who’ve had plastic surgery after thought and prayer. I hope you don’t feel belittled or ashamed.

  98. b.

    September 2, 2009

    A couple of thoughts:
    I was born with a hole in my face. It required plastic surgeries for not just cosmetics, but also function (survival even–I suppose lifelong tube feedings was an option).
    When women all around me do the nip & tuck, pouty lip injections, fix their “unsightly” yet functional noses…it feels like a reminder of how flawed I am. Of how the bar is constantly being raised.
    Isn’t it just feeding the monster? The monster we all complain about? The big bad monster that tells us that because we aren’t built like Barbie…we aren’t enough?

    I feel the same way when somebody who wears a size 6 complains that she’s fat and would just die to be a size 2 (Really? I haven’t been a size 6 since I was 9!)

    My teeth are crooked, misshaped, and tetracyline stained….I’d like to have a full set of pearly straight white veneers. Is that being vain? I would just like to have a normal smile.
    It’s the definition of normal that keeps getting changed.

  99. Heather O.

    September 2, 2009

    I’ll just say it–I love my body. I think it looks awesome right now. But I work my butt off for these legs, and, like Shelah, feel I’ve earned my body.

    That said, I will also freely admit that while I am motivated by health reasons, I am also motivated by vanity too. I want to look good in shorts. I want to look good in a swimsuit. I also want my husband to find me attractive, and he admits that he finds me more attractive when I’m in good shape. So, I work out. It makes me feel good about myself.

    So I’ve chosen to transform myself through “natural” means. If I couldn’t transform my body through natural means, would I turn to plastic surgery? I honestly don’t know. If I didn’t love my body, if there was something in my life, say, a nose that was “distracting”, either to me or to others, I can’t say that I wouldn’t seek a means to change it. If it was something that was torturing me, I might feel differently.

    But let’s not pretend that we aren’t all motivated, in some degree, by vanity. We may express it differently, but at the end of the day, we all want to feel good about the way we look.

  100. Heather O.

    September 2, 2009

    I also can’t pretend that my daughter isn’t going to obsess about her looks. It’s what we as women do, for whatever reasons. I just hope that I can instill in her a love for her own body, a desire to take care of it, and to be healthy. I agree with Justine’s comment about being in good shape and not noticing media images. When you feel strong and powerful and healthy, media images don’t have as big an impact. I will do whatever I can to make my daughter feel strong and powerful and healthy, and hope that will go along way in protecting her against some of these corrosive elements of society.

  101. Mrs. Organic

    September 3, 2009

    Well, I think maybe Michael Jackson took it a bit too far – like when his nose turned into two holes in his face and he developed “vitiligo.”

    Women have been obsessed with vanity even as recently as bullet bras and girdles. Meaning surgery wasn’t as available to our mothers, but they still had appearance-altering options.

    I’d like to see the studies that support the notion that there’s a higher prevalence of plastic surgery in Mormon women over the general population.

    I’ve been at both ends of the body spectrum (never the Barbie shape, that’s fiction), and when I was very fit I felt great. Then health concerns took my body and turned it into something different.

    I have been fighting to take my body back, and it’s a frustratingly slow process. It would be so easy (and crazy expensive)to just go in, get it sucked out, lifted, nipped, tucked, etc. but then what? I will still have the same health concerns, and what shape will I morph into then?

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with embracing how life has rendered you, but I don’t hold it against people (although I really used to) who try drastic measures to get back to “normal” – including medications for anxiety and depression (isn’t altering your brain chemistry on a simlar plane as altering your physical appearance?), as well as surgical procedures.

  102. Zina

    September 3, 2009

    Before the prophet specifically recommended against tattoos, plenty of LDS women disapproved of tattoos. Were those women being wrong and judgmental, or were they using the brains God gave them, their understanding of the Gospel, and their responses to the promptings of the Spirit to extrapolate a position on an issue that, while it doesn’t determine salvation, does affect our relationship to God, through our stewardship of the bodies He gave us? I think it’s a good thing to form thoughtful positions on matters that affect our spiritual (or physical, or emotional, or social) well-being, even if the Church hasn’t drawn a line in the sand. On the other hand, it would certainly be judgmental and hurtful if we thought that we could dismiss another person’s value, treat them worse than others, or determine their standing with God just because they had a tattoo. I’m not saying (and don’t believe) that the Church will ever take a specific position on plastic surgery–as many here have pointed out so well, there are too many situations and variables for there to be a one-size-fits all answer to plastic surgery. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong or rude or judgmental for some of us to observe a trend, and decide that the apparent proliferation of drastic and sometimes risky measures undergone for what appear to often be vain reasons is a harmful thing.

    In response to Heather O and others, while I absolutely think it’s laudable and worthy to do our best to care for the bodies God gave us, and it’s wonderful to enjoy those bodies, statements such as “I’ve earned my good looks” can be hurtful by implying that those who are (by worldly standards) less attractive also deserve what they got, or that anyone can be comparably beautiful with the same amount of effort. Particularly when it comes to weight, there’s a very widely-held consensus in our culture that you can determine a person’s character based on their size, (fat people must be greedy and lazy.) That could sometimes be true, but you might also be missing other facts. (Also, slender persons might also have other less visible, more socially-acceptable vices, and receive far less judgment and criticism. Sometimes in our world, being thin is enough of a virtue to cover quite a multitude of sins.)

    I also share the concerns of whoever it was above (I’m too lazy to go find who it was) who said something that amounted to the idea of “How can anyone waste money on plastic surgery when there are people starving in the world?” By that same logic none of us should ever have any luxuries as long as there are any poor among us, and I think we’ve all lived long enough to know that a) we will always have the poor with us and b) we will always find rationales to justify the things we really want. But (maybe because so far in my life plastic surgery isn’t particularly enticing to me) I’m still bothered by the idea that one woman’s elective cosmetic surgery could pay for many children’s cleft palate repairs, etc.

    Another thing that (surprisingly, really, given the length of this thread) I don’t think I’ve yet seen anyone mention here is that there’s a very broad range of cost and risk in cosmetic procedures, but for the riskiest–those involving major surgery–there IS (from what I’ve read in the past) a relatively high risk of serious complications and even death. I have a hard time thinking of many circumstances where the benefits really outweigh that risk. Or, in other words, I like to hope that most men would rather have a flabby, saggy wife than a dead one.

    I *am* sympathetic to lots of circumstances and definitely not opposed to all procedures, but as I said earlier, I can’t help thinking that a proliferation of procedures does imply a correlating proliferation of vanity and pride in our society in general.

  103. Zina

    September 3, 2009

    Mrs. O, we must have been typing at the same time. (Not hard since I was typing for a very long time.) (And I really should STOP typing and go to bed.)

    Taking medication for anxiety and depression is now widely understood to be a treatment for a real impairment, and I don’t think anyone here has argued against medically indicated surgeries (although we may have some disagreement about which are medically indicated.) Since (setting aside those gray areas,) we’re mainly talking about elective surgeries, I guess the comparison would have to be to recreational drug use, where there’s no underlying mental health concern other than just wanting to feel really great–better than normal. Since there’s (to a large degree, if definitely not universally) a consensus in society that the risks and harms of recreational drug use outweigh any potential benefits, I think the question we’re considering here for cosmetic surgery is: Do the risks, harms, and opportunity costs outweigh the benefits? And that’s where we all differ. Where I personally currently stand is that cosmetic surgery should be rare and legal.

    (That very last line was a joke.)

  104. m&m

    September 3, 2009

    It’s the definition of normal that keeps getting changed.

    Summed up nicely. Some of that is a good thing, to a point…as in, we don’t lose our teeth like our ancestors did, so at least we have them. But now, do they need to be straight and bleached to really be beautiful? That line…where is that line?

    Such an interesting and difficult topic.

  105. m&m

    September 3, 2009

    p.s. I will answer my own question and say that I think the process of figuring out that line, and many others (which even for one person could change over time!) with God’s help, is really a key to our journey.

    I want to add one more thing about ‘working for our bodies.’ I think it’s awesome that there are some who do enjoy the fruits of their labors with a nice body (Heather, you are gorgeous, girl). But I just wanted to share my experience. Having suffered for years with a form of an eating disorder, I look better and feel better about how I look than I did when I was busting my backside to run 4-6 miles 6 times a week. I’m not in as good of shape or health. I miss running so much (can’t now cuz of health issues, ironically). My legs are mushier. But I don’t hate my physical appearance like I did then.

    What changed in my brain (others’ mileage may differ) is not something that I could have changed on my own. For all that I tried hard to take care of myself, it was really only as a gift from God (not sure why — and it’s been replaced with other difficult physical and mental challenges) that my view of my physical appearance was changed.

    For me, no exercise alone, no hard work, could have removed the mental and emotional barriers to an acceptance of my body in that way.

    So, for some, echoing what was said above, all the hard work in the world won’t necessarily yield the same results. And that is a hard place to be. It’s just another example of how personal this whole thing is. The process of coming to love one’s body will be different for everyone. I think it often includes a delicate balance of physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional factors.

    So while I think it’s awesomely awesome when a woman loves her body, and finds satisfaction in taking care of it, I have a great deal of compassion for those who are in a different place for reasons they may not be able to fully get a handle on right now simply through more hard work. I look back and see that I was SO hard on myself for something that I simply couldn’t change on my own. My heart goes out to those who may be in a similar situation.

    Mortality’s messiness shows up in so many different ways. Sometimes the hard work is to hang on and do your best with wherever you are. To seek God’s help. To be patient with yourself in the process of progress, whatever that may look like.

    Hard work, indeed.

  106. Selwyn

    September 3, 2009

    Wow, what a huge range of comments.

    For me, agency is the key to all our decisions. If we have the faith to ask, and the determination to act according to the answer we receive, then what other people do, or not do, or say really isn’t an issue.

    Unless it becomes one, where other people decide or think they know the letter of the law and not allow for the spirit of the law, and act and speak accordingly. (Like in that great poem referenced before, where the husband was judged unworthy of dessert, the wife unworthy of charity).

    I doubt anyone would deride the man mentioned much earlier for getting his cleft fixed, even though he cried because “someone would marry him now”. Is that vanity? Yes. And no. And it’s absolutely none of my business.

    I would be concerned if people were having cosmetic surgery done “because everyone else is”, but in particular if they themselves couldn’t clearly recognise where the desire/want came from. Of COURSE it would be great if everyone was totally 100% thrilled with everything about their own body/selves, but this is mortality and that’s just not going to happen.

    Two weeks ago I had my tattoo redone. I am THRILLED. I had my own reasons for doing so, the way it was had been causing me grief and other mental issues but now the problem has gone. Disappeared. I prayed about it, repeatedly, and was going to follow the direction I received. Am I awful for being tattooed? No. Would I get a new one? No. Do I have any reservations about my personal worthiness? No. Do I expect anyone else to understand? No.

    It’s no-one else’s business except mine and the Lord’s, and we’re cool with it.

  107. Deborah

    September 3, 2009

    Mrs. Organic wrote: “I’d like to see the studies that support the notion that there’s a higher prevalence of plastic surgery in Mormon women over the general population.”

    This isn’t about Mormons, per say, but apparently, SLC has the highest number of plastic surgeons per capita of any major city in the USA. I’ll let statisticians unpackage that.

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695237037,00.html

  108. dalene

    September 3, 2009

    zina–i appreciate your comments, particularly in regards to treating depression and anxiety. i agree that we can and should form thoughtful positions on issues–that’s one of the beauties of our agency (otherwise it would be all spelled out for us).

    i simply believe we can also–as angela stated–allow for the possibility that someone’s experiences might be different than ours and they might have an equally thoughtful position that may also be different from ours. i guess my hope is that segullah could be a safe place share our personal stories and discuss hot topics in a way that brings about compassion and understanding instead of condemnation.

  109. Cindy

    September 3, 2009

    I was startled when a friend from Utah started talking about the trend in LDS families to give their daughters plastic surgery for a graduation gift. That’s something I still have a hard time wrapping my head around.

    I have also been surprised to see the number of billboards advertising liposuction when visiting in Utah in the last year, and to hear that plastic surgery is a real trend among LDS women.

    As I have read all of the comments and thought about this topic, I realized that in our family we have made decisions both to cosmetically alter body parts and to leave them alone.

    I just got my braces off a few months ago. I am 42, and I can’t adequately express the freedom that it is to smile without feeling self-conscious about my crooked teeth. I *LOVE* having straight teeth.

    On the other hand, my post-triplet (children 4-6) tummy is a real mess. My stretch marks have stretch marks of their own, and my c-section healed badly. But my husband is the only one who sees it, he loves me the way I am, and my clothes cover it moderately well. I’m ok with that, and would rather spend my disposable income in other ways. If it was something that couldn’t be covered, I would probably feel differently about it.

    My 16 year old son had surgery this spring that could be considered elective. He had a defect in his chest called pectus excavatum that was essentially a big dip in his chest. His was big enough to fit half of a lemon in. The insurance company was willing to pay for this surgery because his heart location was significantly impacted by this malformation. But we were clear with him that this was his decision to make based on how he felt about his chest and himself. I was surprised as he started talking about it to hear how much compensating he had done for many years to keep people from seeing it. While he did hear some opinions that this was the way God made his body and he should be happy with it, we eventually decided that since it was a defect, he should not feel bad about wanting to repair it.

    I think that sums up my feelings about plastic surgery at this point. Bringing things to a normal status seems ok to me. I’m just not sure how I feel about enhancing things.

    Thanks for all of the interesting thoughts!

  110. Jennie

    September 3, 2009

    Wow Leslie, quite a can of worms! I had no idea when I posted the first comment that there were so many people who think of plastic surgery as horrible. All I know is that when the doctor took off my bandages the week after my surgery, I burst into tears. For the first time in my life I felt beautiful.

    It’s been ten years now since I had my operation. I would do it again in a second. My sister, who shares my unfortunate profile, has had the same surgery. Our operations were purely due to vanity, it’s true. My only regret is that I didn’t do it earlier. If that means that a whole bunch of you look down on me because of this, so be it.

    P.S. If I’m going to be resurrected with buck teeth, a fat nose and five double chins, I’m not interested!

  111. Hannah

    September 3, 2009

    I’ve had plastic surgery. I got breast implants after my first two kids, after an ugly divorce, and after looking in the mirror made me feel like less of a woman. It’s true. I went from a nice B to a Negative AA. I never cared about breasts before, not until they weren’t there. I felt self-conscious every day when my bra would end up at my collar bone sometime around lunch. I saved up some money, got a 0% financing deal for the rest, and went in for the surgery…an augmentation that put me back to just about where I was before the kids. It was the best thing I ever did for MYSELF. I was single. There was no one else to look at me, but me. I didn’t dread swimsuit season quite so much. I liked the way my clothes fit. I was stoked about buying my first Victoria’s Secret bra…a nice one that made me feel feminine, rather than as nervous as a pre-pubescent 12-year old in the training bra section. This was entirely for me. I haven’t bothered to take care of the massive belt of stretch marks gifted to me after three pregnancies. My girls ask me what the stripes are and I tell them they are badges of honor. I have learned to appreciate myself the way I am, with the lovely addition of “The Girls.” I would do it again if I had to. I stood up straight, walked a little taller, and found a little spring in my step. Oh, did I mention I’m undergoing laser hair removal? A lengthy, painful, and expensive process designed to get rid of razors and shaving cream forever?

  112. Hannah C

    September 3, 2009

    I totally agree with Carina. I think plastic surgury is vain and wrong if it is not for medical reasons or for severe cercumstances.

    I had a friend get a breast reduction because her 5’1 frame could not handle her triple-d’s. She was havign major back issues. I had another friend who was burned and needed a nose reconstruction. My father had skin cancer and half his ear was cut off. He had plastic surgury to rebuild his ear. Those seem like valid reasons for plastic surgury.

    But getting a boob job because you want to be bigger? Getting a nose job because you don’t like the shape of yours? Tucking in that leftover baby weight? That is so wrong to me.

    Heavenly Father gave us our body and we should be proud of it. I think about the resurrection. Our bodies will be made whole and perfect. This is me talking, of course, but I can’t imagine our restored bodies will include the tweeks made through plastic surgery. We need to learn to love the body we have been given.

  113. L.M.

    September 3, 2009

    I would do it in a heart beat because I have never fit in clothes right. This isn’t a vain desire on my part; it is one of wanting to be modest even when I am dressing modest.

    The top half of my frame is a size 6- I can get by wearing petite shirts. The bottom half is a size 10 to 12. All of the women in my family have this same frame and as they get older, they get BIGGER.

    I can’t lay on my back and do sit ups because of the way my derriere is- too round to let my shoulders and back rest comfortably. It actually physically hurts to do them!

    I just want a bum reduction and to sculpt down my thighs that way I can actually fit into clothes without having pants tailored due to my ultra skinny waist and large bottom {my pants buckle out unless I wear a belt- thus the being immodest even when I am dressing modest}.

    Generally speaking, it seems to me that the people who I’ve talked to in person about this only have an issue with it when they DON’T have an issue with their own bodies. The people like me who are disproportionate are the ones who agree and say they’d get it done in a heart beat.

    So sometimes it is for medical reasons too {I have bad knees and always an aching back from carrying that weight in such a strange area. Even when I was running 6 miles it was still there!}

    Let people decide for themselves and don’t judge! You can’t know what it’s like to live in that body unless you have one too.

  114. Michelle L.

    September 3, 2009

    earned your body? There is not a single day that you won’t find me running, lifting weights or spinning on the stupid exercise bikes. I count every calorie. I live off of egg white and celery. And I ain’t never gonna have legs like that. NEVER.

    Plastic surgery isn’t for me; but I didn’t earn my fat thighs any more than someone earned a large nose.

  115. Just V.

    September 3, 2009

    Jennie, no looking down here. I think you are reasonable, and brave, (and I can’t believe I need to call you brave for admitting to a plastic surgery procedure, but here, in this particular forum, bravery is what it seems to take).

  116. Leslie

    September 3, 2009

    Hannah- thanks for bolding sharing your experience.

    I think for a lot of the frustration centers in our increasing view of one body type as beautiful, one rule of proportioning? If so much of the population is an A cup how come it isn’t feminine?

    As for the earning it- I know both sides. Our bodies are composites of DNA and predetermined parts mixed in with habits and behaviors and other factors. I think what Heather was expressing was that there is a confidence that comes from feeling you have mastery over your body through the discipline of eating well and exercising. Helping your body perform and achieve goals can give you a sense of your body as dynamic and powerful and less of an object. I can appreciate though that everyone’s end results of exercise+eating healthy can be drastically different. I have immense respect for people who have that discipline not matter the end result.

  117. angie f

    September 3, 2009

    I live in Vegas, so there is a seemingly disproportionate amount of plastic being bandied about here (and I know of several women who have gone to SLC for their procedures, so maybe some of the statistics are being skewed that way). I have been continually surprised at who has had procedures in my various wards. Some of the reasons make sense, some were faulty (trying to keep the husband who has since left anyway). I see more women spending their days and dollars with personal trainers to achieve and maintain an unreal physique. I have also watched a dear friend attend a couple of funerals of moms who died on the augmentation table recently.

    I’ll admit to my vanity. I am all girl and I like to look pretty. For me that comes in trying to look appropriately put together (see http://www.cardiganempire.com for a great site on dressing the body you have). I get regular haircuts and color. I try to wear a pleasantly natural amount of makeup to mask the dark circles that mothering and heredity have given me. I spend money on well-fitting bras so that my “girls” reside in at least the general vicinity of their original location before nursing 5 babies for 66 total months changed everything. I try to eat healthy, but I love chocolate and icecream. I regularly run an avg of 30 miles a week and will run my first marathon in a couple of weeks. But I am still about 35 lbs over what a healthy BMI is. And even if I achieved that magically elusive goal weight, the extra skin folds that are my badge of honor for carrying and delivering 46 lb of baby over eight years will likely not be going anywhere. That is discouraging. Trying to find pants that will fit and actually stay up is next to impossible. I certainly look at my mother body and wish for something sleeker. But for me, at this point, I tend to temper my level of vanity with how it will affect my family. I won’t leave my babies in gym daycare all day. I won’t risk leaving them motherless due to a surgery gone wrong. I will leave them for the time it takes to get a great haircut and color every other month. I will leave them to go running in the morning while they’re asleep. I have friends who tsk tsk me in both directions (why don’t I just cut and color my own hair and buy bras at Target and why don’t I get regular mani/pedis, spend thousands on sleek wardrobes and personal trainers) I am not always happy with my appearance, but sometimes I am. I have my own demons. I hope I don’t contribute to any one else’s.

    As I have followed this discussion over the past several days, the measuring stick that seems to work for me is where will my treasure be? What level of appearance alteration and maintenance will allow me to focus on caring for others and serving the Lord, accumulating that heavenly treasure? I think that answer is different for everyone. Women are hard on other women and sadly, I think we LDS women can be downright vicious to each other, under the guise of righteousness and honor. How can we be more gentle with ourselves and with each other? A lot of the range of anger in the comments here remind me of the indignation spouted in my lawschool classes at exam time–what people were doing that would “wreck the grade curve”. Is the pain and anger at someone else’s body choices really anything more than anguish at someone else altering the beauty bell curve?

    We live in a crazy media infused, perfection addicted, sex-addled culture and it’s not going to change. I think the best I can do is to cultivate self-knowledge and self-love, seeking to fill my empty places with things that are actually restorative. When I am in a good place, I am better able to judge myself less harshly and others around me little if at all.

  118. jendoop

    September 3, 2009

    L.M. said, “Generally speaking, it seems to me that the people who I’ve talked to in person about this only have an issue with it when they DON’T have an issue with their own bodies.”

    That applies to me, but that doesn’t mean my body fits the world’s standards of perfect. My doctor would say I’m overweight. I have health issues and pain but still workout at least 3 days a week. The results of my good diet, exercise, and pain meds? weight gain. I still love my body as a gift from God and will not have plastic surgery.

    In all areas of life we are given less than perfect situations and have the choice of how to deal with it. I think this is another one of those situations. Are we willing to submit to what God has given to us and make the best of it or will we reject his gift, focusing only on the negative?

  119. Hannah

    September 3, 2009

    It has been a thoroughly elightening discussion, and I have so much more to say regarding previous comments. I certainly would like to discuss fallacies among the LDS concerning what is “righteous” or not as it relates to this topic, why it’s not vain if we choose not to “let ourselves go” for our spouses or for ourselves and hope that they’ll/we’ll love us anyway, why having personal opinions of ourselves is not necessarily a result of the media/culture/vanity, and certainly, as many of you said, the hope that this is a discussion and not a forum for judgement…becuase that would be the most un-Mormon thing of all.

    Way to spark something sparkable Leslie!

  120. Hannah

    September 3, 2009

    Oh and one more remark before I go, mark my words–I love the body that the Lord gave me. It was beautiful and fit and lovely. Plastic surgery and exercise are just putting it back to the way it was before he gave me kids. ( “

  121. Kathryn Soper

    September 3, 2009

    Where to begin?

    First: Carina, I used to share your views on plastic surgery. if I didn’t know some of the people I know, I would still share your views. But my relationships with individuals I respect have compelled me to take a step back.

    I think it’s really important to acknowledge that there’s a huge range of reasons why a woman might choose plastic surgery, and that while some of us might find some of those reasons abhorrent, we simply can’t know what a particular woman’s reasons may be. Unless she tells us. And if she does, even if some of her reasons make no sense to us, or make us shudder, she might have compelling reasons for having those reasons. In most cases, if we could only see the full picture, we would (or should)feel compassion rather than self-righteous condemnation.

  122. sar

    September 3, 2009

    I really like Nancy Mairs’ writing on women and bodies, especially in her personal essays on having MS. One thing she asks that has stuck with me is why we say “I have a body” and not “I am a body”. Obviously Western philosophy is behind this at least in the separation of the mind/spirit and the body. I haven’t fully gotten my head around the doctrine of this. If having a body is essential to our eternal progression, why are we so antagonistic towards our bodies?

  123. Kathryn Soper

    September 3, 2009

    Second: The feminist in me recoils in horror at a significant portion of the plastic surgery spectrum. But the feminist in me also recoils in horror at women bashing women. And the feminist in me stands up and cheers when women make unpopular personal decisions after carefully consulting their moral/spiritual compass.

  124. Just V.

    September 3, 2009

    Boob job=pornography problem in marriage
    Overweight body=lazy and lacking self control
    Rhinoplasty=vain and shallow
    Bad hair=must be depressed
    Great hair=probably spends way too time getting ready in the morning

    Wouldn’t it be great if we all never presumed to know the shape of someone’s heart by simply looking at the shape of their body/appearance?

  125. Kathryn Soper

    September 3, 2009

    Amen, #124. Or their views on plastic surgery, for that matter. Or a thousand and one other controversial topics.

    Okay, Shelah and Heather O., and all you other slender/gorgeous women out there.

    You work hard for your beautiful bodies. I know that, and I respect and admire that. But you have been gifted in ways that many of us have not been. There are significant contributing factors to the way you look (genetics and luck) that you didn’t earn. (This doesn’t change the fact that you work your butts off–literally.)

    But It wouldn’t matter if I exercised hours a day, every day. I would never look like you.

    I could work just as hard as you work, and still be in the market for a tummy tuck. And if I could easily afford one, I’d consider getting one. I don’t know if I would. My feelings are pretty mixed. But I’d think about it.

    You don’t know what it’s like to live in my body. I can’t fault you for that! Just please be mindful that you don’t know. (And in turn, I will be mindful that you have your own body-related issues, as we all do, some of which I couldn’t possibly understand.)

    And also, please understand that I think YOU ROCK for being so self-disciplined. And for being so damn hot!!!!! I am jealous on both counts.

  126. Kathryn Soper

    September 3, 2009

    That last comment was third.

    Fourth:

    Carina, the feminist in me also stands up and cheers for women like you who speak their minds. I don’t want you to shut up and play nice. I just want to see the source of the problem attacked, not the people who get caught up in its maelstrom. (And I want to make it clear that some women who choose plastic surgery AREN’T caught in the maelstrom.) My intent is not to bash you for being outspoken, but rather to be equally outspoken myself as a means of counterpoint.

  127. Kathryn Soper

    September 3, 2009

    Fifth and final, for now:

    I’m getting on the elliptical trainer as soon as I finish this pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

  128. Leslie

    September 3, 2009

    This has been quite the 3 days of discussion, not quite what I expected. I have barely been able to keep up with all the thoughts and ideas. Thank you all most instructive on a highly charged topic- I respect the voices and thoughts of women tremendously.

    Hopefully it has made us all think about different issues along the way. We may stand in agreement and disagreement in various places along the way. I hope here we can feel safe stating experiences, beliefs, and philosphies without attack.

    I for one am ready for the weekend- how about you? fun plans?

  129. Justine

    September 3, 2009

    I used to run between four and six miles a day, and really worked my tail off to be in shape to do it.

    And I NEVER looked as good as Shelah! But I’m ok with that. It’s all that Russian DNA in me – we just like to hold on to our fat in case it’s 140 below…

    I don’t think I’d ever go under the knife. It makes me sad that this kind of pressure is in our lives. But I’m glad Jennie feels beautiful, because we all should.

  130. Erik

    September 3, 2009

    I think a key component to why plastic surgery is more prevalent in UT than in other places, is the pressure to be married in a place that has considerably more women than men. I have seen some guys who were really not much to look at, married to some stunningly beautiful girls. With that added competition, it is certainly understandable for a woman to want to increase her chances of being noticed. This, unfortunately, doesn’t speak very highly for a large portion of the men.

    I certainly don’t feel the need to judge on an individual basis, but I agree that the prevalence of sex in the media has made an overwhelming impact on this situation. Of course there has always been trends in sacrifice for the sake of “beauty”, but never before has there been such pervasive exposure to these societal norms. Personally, I think that natural beauty (no make-up, hair dye or yes, even shaving… maybe this is partially due to my being born in Seattle) is superior, and that any enhancement beyond normalcy is unnecessary. Maybe this makes me strange, but I don’t subscribe to the same standards of beauty that the majority of the western world does. That’s not to say that I find women who do these things to themselves as unattractive (my wife does shave), I just try not to put so much stock in what other people want me to think is beautiful.

    Although there are significant differences between cosmetic surgery and the usual forms of beautification when it comes to physical safety and cost, on a spiritual level it becomes much more similar. These things are essentially on the same level as tattooing and body piercing when it comes to potentially harmful spiritual ramifications. It is just that some things might be more taboo for one group than another.

    This is not to say that people who pursue these kinds of practices are evil or that when they desire to feel good about how they look, that they are in the wrong. The real problem lies in the potentially negative motivation and fixation that can occur when someone pays too much attention to what other people think about their appearance. If these desires and actions follow, and will cause or contribute to you or those around you to falter spiritually, whether it be concerning pride, sexual sin, or in any other way, then maybe certain decisions should be reconsidered.

    Zina, although there are many cases where prescribed drugs help people to deal with emotional or mental inflictions, There are many people who go to (and rely on) those substances before exhausting other options that are far healthier, spiritually significant, and much longer lasting. For instance, there have been studies that have shown martial arts (and other discipline teaching practices) can cure people of ADD. In my own experience, when I was depressed as a teenager, it wasn’t the drugs prescribed to me by doctors that helped me to rid myself of that ailment, but rather the realization that Jesus really did die for us and that we can partake in the blessings and miracles which he so readily imparts, instead of my former abstract belief in him. Also, to write off the use of illicit substances to the desire to feel better than normal, while ascribing only normalcy as the motivation behind the use of prescribed substances is not necessarily a valid argument. Though it doesn’t make it right, many people self-medicate to attain a relative level of normalcy. Just because something is illegal, doesn’t automatically make it worse than something that is legal.

    Every single issue here is a personal one, and I thank the Lord for Free Agency. We should welcome other peoples thoughts on them as long as they’re not hostile, because that agency extends to them as well.

  131. Zina

    September 3, 2009

    Hannah said, “Because that [judging] would be the most un-Mormon thing of all.”

    Mormons, like all human beings, make judgments constantly, and we must do so in order to make decisions. The better and wiser our judgments, the better and wiser our decisions will be. Mormons judge that people are better off, happier, and closer to the Holy Ghost if they are chaste, don’t drink alcohol or omoke, do pray regularly and sincerely, and try to follow Jesus and repent of sins (etc., etc.) We make judgments on matters that don’t necessarily directly pertain to salvation but that do pertain to our beliefs and common sense: that people are better off if they avoid debt and live within their means, that people are happiest if they make their families a priority, that people should try to serve within their communities. The kind of judgment that we’re commanded not to make is to think we know what someone’s accountability is in any of these matters or where they stand with God, or to ration our love and service towards others based on those judgments.

    I’m sure that there are many instances where I’d be very sympathetic towards others’ decisions to have elective cosmetic surgery, but I also feel like I’m not wrong to express my opinion that a prevalance of elective surgeries — a high ratio of women getting surgery to augment their breasts, for example–is symptomatic of a society that’s tending towards decadence and vanity, and that in many instances the risks outweigh the benefits and the resources would be much better directed elsewhere. In my view, if we can get rid of war, disease, and poverty, then that would be a better time to turn our energies towards physical perfection. (Again, I’m not at all personally opposed to all cosmetic measures, but I’m very concerned by a prevalance of the most drastic/risky/costly ones.)

  132. Kathryn Soper

    September 3, 2009

    Zina, you’re certainly not wrong to express your opinion. And I happen to agree with you. The trick is to be hostile toward twisted ideals, not people.

  133. Zina

    September 3, 2009

    Erik, I agree that alternate therapies are effective for some people with some forms of mental illness, that prescription medications can be abused, and that non-prescription medications can be used as self-medication. None of this changes my understanding of the Church’s position as being that it’s only acceptable to use legal drugs for medically indicated reasons. You said, “Just because something is illegal, doesn’t automatically make it worse than something that is legal.” Uh, this is only true if you don’t consider “illegal” and “legal” to be measures of goodness. Certainly our laws are (usually) based on a societal consensus of good and bad (as interpreted by our elected lawmakers. And yes, of course a societal consensus doesn’t preclude dissenting opinions.)

    Even though I’m the one that used this comparison, I can’t remember any more what it has to do with plastic surgery–I guess I’d have to go back and re-read what I said. But I think I’m coming down with a cold, so a nap might be a better idea.

    Leslie, I too am ready for the weekend. 🙂 Here’s to a happy, healthy weekend for all of us. (Without any omoking, which sounds like it must be a very dangerous activity.)

  134. QueenScarlett

    September 3, 2009

    I think somewhere along the way …with all the many ideas, thoughts, opinions… this got lost.

    Here were Elder Jeffrey R Holland thoughts from October 2005:

    In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children. At some point the problem becomes what the Book of Mormon called “vain imaginations.” And in secular society both vanity and imagination run wild.

    Apparently, this is important enough, dangerously widespread enough that one of our disciples of God talked about it to the entire world population. Because we believe that our Prophet and General Authorities do have authority to speak to the entire world.

    I have to say – I totally get Carina’s comment. Totally. I am one of those people that get tired of the wishy, washy, lukewarm comments about how it’s not okay for me – but live and let live. Really? Just seems like an easy way out of being controversial.

    And… it’s clear the PC-world has permeated every soul of our beings with people afraid to take a stand… terrified someone might get their feelings hurt. I don’t remember Samuel the Lamanite, Noah, Lehi… take your pick of Prophets being terrified of hurting someone’s self-esteem when they did something they probably shouldn’t…given our leaders’ counsel.

    And seriously…I am thinking of reposting an old post about Judging. There is nothing that gets under my skin more…and makes me want to rip my eyes out than when we, as Mormons completely misunderstand it and start spouting it off like the rest of the world does.

    One of my favorite Apostles, Dallin H. Oaks explained it in the August 1999 issue of the Ensign: “The key is to understand that there are two kinds of judging: final judgments, which we are forbidden to make, and intermediate judgments, which we are directed to make, but upon righteous principles.” I love this article because so many people think any kind of commentary, opinion, observation, etc is a “no no” because you’re judging. HELLO!!! We’re supposed to judge everyday.

    What people don’t get – which makes me want to roar like a tortured animal, is that when it comes to what the scriptures say, “judge not, that ye be not judged” they’re talking about final judgment and that is certainly not our jurisdiction/stewardship.

    Given Holland’s counsel – a man I assume we all raised our hands to sustain… it’s pretty clear… we can rationalize it away all we want.

    I think it’s sad that instead of turning to Christ to heal us…inside out… we are turning to the almighty dollar to fix our outer shells… like a bandaid… instead of treating the ailment. That’s what worries me – and I believe that’s what worries our leaders.

    As a YW leader it breaks my heart to see these beautiful girls succumb to the pressures of the media…and their own mothers. We have to do better. We can’t let our examples be a failure to these precious souls we are entrusted with.

    God gives us weaknesses to turn us to him… not to turn to the hand of man and allow us to flaunt this superficial form around.

    The point is… it’s CLEAR. Do we need to be counseled any further in the minute details? Holland has come out and spoken… the scriptures continually tell us to go to Christ… not outside, man-made sources.

    YES, there are exceptions… I’m not talking about those… I’m talking about the ideal …the generalization. There is an ideal to follow… trust in the Lord… eschew the natural man…. for that ideal I will gladly, repeatedly, stand for.

  135. Lulubelle

    September 3, 2009

    I’ve had a little work done, and my kids know it. They ask why and I answer, “Because I didn’t like it.” I think that whatever makes you happy is up to you and no one else.

    1. Is there an intersection of beauty and faith; our bodies, our money, our stewardship? No… The two are completely separate. My desire and decision to have work done in no way mirrored the ‘place’ I was in spiritual. I don’t see the two as linked– at all.

    2. Is there a moral /spiritual dimension to beautifying? To nipping and tucking? No. The two are completely different.

    3. Where does it begin and end? When does it cross the line into destructive or vain? That’s up to the individual. There rae extremes… Those who do NOTHING to themselves (not wear makeup, do their hair, etc) to those who are heavily altered. I guess it’s up to the individual. Why should anyone care?

    4. What do the ”before and after shots” of this phenomenon on our society reveal? That we like to look at ‘beautiful’ things? That some people like to feel good and so try to meet their ideal of how they will feel good.

  136. Hannah

    September 3, 2009

    It’s apparent that the sarcastic nature of my comment didn’t come across very well…as it was intended to be. My apologies for that. Great discussion everyone.

  137. Hannah

    September 3, 2009

    oooo, Lullubelle, round of applause for you.

  138. Faith.Not.Fear

    September 3, 2009

    Don’t forget Sister Susan Tanner’s testimony born at the same General Conference as Elder Holland’s — Susan W. Tanner, “The Sanctity of the Body,” Ensign, Nov 2005.

    Two witnesses!!!
    ____________

    When I take good care of myself (basic hygiene, healthy eating & exercise, clean, comely clothes), I feel happier, more willing to serve, to smile, to keep the commandments. I feel more in tune with the Spirit, and ultimately, closer to God.

    When I get caught up in my hair, my face, my figure to the point of neglecting my children, my husband, my house, my calling, I feel a difference.

    When I neglect my hair, face, figure, I feel a difference, too, and it impacts my ability to feel happy, healthy, and holy.

    I think some of the keys may be simplicity, humble recognition of our daughter-of-God-hood, and remembering that “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” D&C 18:10

    When those principles are in place, it is easier to be in tune with the Spirit, more available to serve and love and obey.

    And I think we can feel better about ourselves, too, no matter what our shape, when we are lovingly caring for our “temple,” our family, our neighbors, etc. instead of critically comparing our bodies to others.

    Easily said. But I think it’ll take me a lifetime to master! 🙂

  139. MissMel

    September 3, 2009

    You want to know something sick? I went to get thyroid levels today and I WANTED something to be wrong with me, so I could blame the horrid weight gain on something other than my eating habits.
    Then, when the doctor started talking about being on synthetic medicine for the rest of my life, I suddenly got sick in another way. How could I want that for my wonderful and lovely fully curvaceous body? What was I thinking?

    We are in a wicked world, ladies, a wicked world.

  140. Heather O.

    September 3, 2009

    Leslie, thanks for making my point better than I did. I think when we work WITH our bodies, instead of against them, it can make a difference about how we see ourselves And if we see ourselves as powerful and healthy, hopefully it won’t matter as much what our legs and boobs look like.

    But don’t feed the skinny chick a line about how you don’t know what it feels like to live in a bigger body. You don’t know what it’s like to go through junior high and high school shaped like a 14 year old boy.

  141. Kathryn Soper

    September 3, 2009

    Heather, of course that door swings both ways. Did I not clearly say as much?

    Queen Scarlett, I’m biting my tongue so hard it’s bleeding.

  142. Just V

    September 3, 2009

    Kathryn, I kind of wish you wouldn’t, bite your tongue that is; you say things in such a temperate, kind, and diplomatic way. I appreciate the things you have said so far. Thank you.

  143. Marianne

    September 3, 2009

    Maybe this has been covered, I skipped a few of the comments. But here are my two cents.

    Our bodies are holy, sacred temples. When we cut, pierce or mutilate them in unnecessary ways, (and that is where you all can choose what constitutes necessary) we are upsetting a divine balance. Why are procedures or tattoos “addictive”? Because of that disturbance of our physical body and the spiritual self that has stewardship of it. It’s hard to restore that balance. And I don’t mean repentance.

    Trust me. I have a tattoo and fought the urge for years to get another. I still fight it, and can’t rationally explain that pull, except by my above statement. I didn’t have to repent of my tattoo, but I know I tampered with something that should have been left alone. And I realized all this before the Prophet set the new guidelines. I wish they had set them sooner.

    My sister’s implants have lowered her self esteem and since the procedure she dresses, frankly, like a whore. I love her, and after her five kids I thought she deserved them. But sadly she seems to be the rule as opposed to the exception. It has not made her happier. I have yet to meet a woman who has had a procedure like that and not fought to stay at the top of that slippery slide of “what’s next?”.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah… Do what is right for you. That’s fine, but I still get ticked off that the cups on my garment tops are waaaay to big for the size they should be. Yet they fit my sister just fine.

  144. Just V

    September 3, 2009

    “I have yet to meet a woman who has had a procedure like that and not fought to stay at the top of that slippery slide of “what’s next?”.

    Hi Marianne,
    I’m V. Nice to meet you. There, now you’ve met one.

  145. Heather O.

    September 3, 2009

    Yes, Kathy, you did. Sorry, you just touched a nerve. I just get tired of that “I hate you because you’re so skinny!” line. I get that there is a stigma about overweight people, that society sees it as just calories in, calories out, and if you are overweight, it’s a moral issue rather than a medical one. I get that people are shaped differently, and all the exercise in the world isn’t going to make everybody look like Tyra Banks. I get that genetics plays a huge part of how you look and how you change as you age. But I don’t like it when the results of hard work get dismissed as an accident of genetics and luck.

    And Michelle L., you are gorgeous, sister.

  146. Marianne

    September 3, 2009

    V- I haven’t met you. I know nothing about you. I’ll have to take your word for it, but everyone else I know has had issues.

    Of the eight woman I know personally that have had implants, none of them are happier. (Sorry, for some reason this is the plastic surgery procedure that irks me the most. Probably because I used to want it. And I know eight isn’t a study by any means, but it is my honest experience.) Of the eight, one has left the church, three got them done right before their divorces and one tried stripping. (Wasn’t LDS.) Not that implants are to blame, of course not. But it seems like a common band-aid that didn’t cure much bigger problems. Do I think any of them “needed” it? Maybe. And while they look smoking hot, none of them are satisfied with their bodies. Each of them still would do other things if finances were available for it.

    V- if you are done and happy. Great. I hope you are the rule instead of the exception.

  147. Jennie

    September 3, 2009

    Queen Scarlett–I was much more obsessed about my appearance before I had plastic surgery. Now I just pass by a mirror and think, “damn, I look fine” and leave it at that. See, no obsessing or preoccupation at all.

    Sorry to be flippant, but comparing yourself to Samuel the Lamanite because you are willing to point fingers at the wicked people like me who have had plastic surgery–give me a break!

  148. Stephen M (Ethesis)

    September 3, 2009

    I had to drop by to see what the Snarkernacle had commented on, but it was interesting.

    There are places with a lot more plastic surgery than Utah, just FYI.

  149. Just V.

    September 3, 2009

    This is all becoming a little bit irksome. Marianne,(and you others) yes, you don’t really know me and yes, you really will have to “take my word for it” and I am not a liar. I am not a stripper, I am not leaving the church, I have not desperately tried to save a dead marriage, I am not “smoking hot” yet dissatisfied with my body. I am moderately pleased with how I look, I don’t love everything, but who does? I am not contemplating any other surgery.(And it is not because I can’t afford it.) I am not ungrateful to my Heavenly Father, I am not married to a porn addict,(or even a porn dabbler), I do not watch pornography myself, nor am I trying to look like a porn star. I do not have pron star sized breasts, or lips, or anything else. I do not dress like a whore. I am almost always kind, (though this blog surely isn’t bringing out the best in me) I try my best to be a good mom, I am navigating my way through the ramifications of my cosmetic surgery for my daughters as best I know how. (I am not naive about this.) I have a kind and loving husband. I obviously have reasons for having had my surgery, some of them you may understand, some of them you may not. I will not lay my life open for you and try to explain those reasons. I had my surgery over ten years ago, so I did not disregard the wise words of President Holland. I believe I am like most of the Mormon women out there who have had a cosmetic procedure. And yes, I am the rule, not the exception.
    Just V.
    ( One of my daughters suggested that I sign this “Busty V” or even “Lusty V”, but I’ll stick with what I’ve got)

  150. Jamie S

    September 3, 2009

    I haven’t formed an opinion yet because I have always felt it wasn’t anyones business, and I haven’t had to make the choice for myself to have it done either…

    I really get where Queen Scarlett is coming from and I agree – we should take the Apostles words to heart because they are called of God and are the mouthpieces of our Savior.

    You just can’t argue with that.

  151. Merillee

    September 3, 2009

    This could go on and on.
    I think this is the most heated I’ve ever seen people get on Segullah!

    It’s a deep and sensitive issue. I’ve noticed that people that have had it done are deeply defensive about it and feel hurt when there are generalizations and observances of some of the people that plastic surgery did not suit well.
    If you have had work done, and you are totally at peace with it, then what does it matter if someone disagrees with it?
    On the flip side, we all have free agency so why would one feel that it’s any of your business to decide what is morally correct?

    We are likely not going to sway others opinions about it – I get the feeling like this is much like politics and political parties – there is no right side – no right answer.

  152. Sunny

    September 3, 2009

    Sisters,

    Let’s not put words in Elder Holland’s mouth. The line he draws in the sand is made up of words such as “preoccupation, fixation, everything that can be remodeled, pressures, anxieties”. He is addressing extremes and intent. What he isn’t doing is saying any alteration=bad. He also is not asking us to try guess another’s intent. Yes, there are some reasons that would serve to be spiritually destructive. But going against the light that has come to you, not to your brother, is sin. Meaning, if the Lord has shown you what lines are not ok to cross, than those are your boundaries, not your neighbor’s. I think we often get confused between principles and behaviors. Elder Holland doesn’t give a list of specific do’s and don’ts. What he gives is a guideline based in principles. When we understand what those principles mean then our individual actions will be guided accordingly, but not identically.

  153. Just V.

    September 3, 2009

    Okay, I want to say this last thing, and say it without being defensive. Perhaps people who have had cosmetic surgery ( and it’s not just the implant people) feel hurt when there are generalizations made because those generalizations are wrong, and therefore, hurtful. I don’t feel the need to sway anyone’s opinion on plastic surgery. I am not trying to recruit anyone to join my plastic surgery party. The point is, we all get to make our own choices, and we all get to live with them, right or wrong. We all have to answer to the same source, in the end. We all have to answer for what we do, and what we say. What if we ( and I include me in this we) asked ourselves if our attitudes and feelings towards each other here would please the Savior? I don’t really have to wonder what kinds of things he would say to each of us if he were writing on this blog, and neither do any of you.

  154. Marianne

    September 4, 2009

    To V, I am sorry. I didn’t want my posts to attack anyone personally. I stand by my first post as my opinion. It was not directed to anyone at all. Except maybe as the criticism to my sister that I will never actually give her.

    However, I became annoyed by your “introduction” to me. It felt snarky and I got defensive of my position. I wanted to clarify why I have the opinion I do. Why can’t bad examples be added to the story here? I know they aren’t the good ones, but they are the ones I know. And wasn’t that the discussion? I thought they should be counted, as they have changed my mind about surgery. As a flat chested woman, I have gone from being super curious and tempted to get implants to being horrified by the examples I have seen. I wish I knew anyone that had had a successful experience with them, because I don’t. And except for reconstructive purposes, I would counsel anyone to not get them if given the chance.

    And by saying that I would have to take your word for it, I mean that. I didn’t think you are lying. And I really do hope you are happy. I didn’t write that sarcastically before, even if it sounded so. It’s just that one line from a stranger on a blog isn’t going into the plus category for me. Were I to talk to you one on one, it would probably do a world of difference. So,again, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to discredit your voice.

    I can see where it might look like I was comparing someone with implants to one of the women I talked about. I didn’t mean it that way at all. I have a gift for not softening the things I say, and I offend people. If I sounded derogatory about the ones I know, well, that much is correct. My nieces and nephews have asked their mom to cover up on several occasions. It’s not cute, it’s sad. And generalizations are generalizations because it is what the majority of a group represents. Wrong or not. Women with tattoos? “Tramp-stamps”? Slutty girls on spring break or biker chicks? Even though this stereotype does not fit me, I agree with the generalization, and have to keep company with it. I’m not offended by it, because it doesn’t define me. It wasn’t who I was 14 years ago when I got my tattoo, but I still have a “tramp stamp”. Sorry to anyone with tattoos now. I am too blunt.

    I am sorry if opinions like mine make you feel defensive. I can see where that would get annoying. But on the flip side, it’s hard to stand up for natural beauty when everyone can have Angelina Jolie’s body for a price. Or when half your ward already does. It has changed what society believes about real beauty. And not for the better. It’s hard to watch Mormon women follow this trend, just as it was probably hard for people to see Mormon women follow the tattoo trend as well.

    And I know my words here tonight would not please the Savior. Thanks for that. See, there I get all defensive again. Sorry. This is my last post. I promise. Say anything you want about me. I will take it. Please forgive me if I’ve cut too deep.

  155. Stephen M (Ethesis)

    September 4, 2009

    I live in Plano. We get a free magazine every week that appears to have plastic surgery as its major theme (though in theory it is about the town). My thought about plastic surgery when approached by a family member was the biggest problem is the embarrassment one ends up feeling, over and over again, about it.

    The latest trend, locally, is “un-obvious” surgery — i.e. plastic surgery that no one can tell you’ve had. While it kind of defeats the point, it seems healthier.

    On the other hand, I see a lot of bad plastic surgery in my day-to-day life in my community (where people have work done that is obvious, that has “seams” or that does not fit their body, the most obvious being facial work that imposes a face that doesn’t fit the bone structure).

    But, when I was a kid a friend of the family switched from neurosurgery to plastics. He said that helping a burn victim, fixing a cleft palette, all the little kindnesses was very rewarding.

    As for the comments, it is interesting to watch people come to understanding each other in this thread. And good.

  156. Leslie

    September 4, 2009

    While I apprecaite the opinions of all involved and their willingness to share. Compassion and civility are things we really try to cultivate at Segullah. I believe a number of peopel have not been familiar with our commenting guidelines (see R sidebar) and have crossed the line. However I promised my boys a day of fun (it’s a vacation day) so I will tend to moderation later (sorry they get first dibs) I do not want to lock a thread- it’s not our style here and something I would really prefer not ot do, but if the tone is acrid it we have no choice. If somethign descends into hurt and bitterness I do think it is constructive.

    Also one thing I think important to this discussion is perspective taking and looking and trying to understand the intention of the reader or the writer rather than twisting it or attempting instantly to criticize. While these are not the rules of “debate”, they are the tools for a measured thoughtful discussion which in my opinion is far more powerful and my intention in writing this post.

    Thank you- Leslie

  157. Kathryn Soper

    September 4, 2009

    Thanks, Just V. In this case I think we were all better off with the tongue-biting, esp. me. For with what measure I mete, it will be measured to me again.

    But I do need to point one thing out:

    We should take the Apostles words to heart because they are called of God and are the mouthpieces of our Savior. You just can’t argue with that.

    Jamie S, please. Nobody on this thread is arguing with that.

  158. Kathryn Soper

    September 5, 2009

    I’m closing the thread with some wise words from Chieko Okazaki:

    In principles, great clarity.
    In practices, great charity.

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