I won’t lie to you. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself undressed in the mirror and think, “Whoa, what happened to you, missy?” My curves used to be mostly in the right places. Now they’re all over the lot. Some in the front when they should be on the side, some near the bottom, when they formally lived at the top.
So I wasn’t totally surprised last week when I saw this article in the NY Times about mothers getting plastic surgery to repair the ravages of pregnancy, childbirth, and breast-feeding. But once I put the paper down, I felt like putting on a bikini and yelling, “Love me, love my misplaced curves!!”
Here’s what the article says about a “mommy job.”
Aimed at mothers, it usually involves a trifecta: a breast lift with or without breast implants, a tummy tuck and some liposuction. The procedures are intended to hoist slackened skin as well as reduce stretch marks and pregnancy fat.
“The severe physical trauma of pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding can have profound negative effects that cause women to lose their hourglass figures,” said David Stoker, a plastic surgeon in Marina Del Ray, Calif.
Severe physical trauma? Profound negative effects? Thanks a lot buddy. Don’t suppose it hurts your wallet too much to promote that kind of exagerated thinking.
What’s most disturbing to me about this is the intolerance towards aging, and specifically, the hatred towards women looking like they have the life experience that comes with aging. You know, I may not look as good as I did fifteen years ago, but I’d much rather have a conversation with myself now than the person I was back then. (You know what I mean.)
Many women struggle with the impact of aging and pregnancy on their bodies. But the marketing of the “mommy makeover” seeks to pathologize the postpartum body, characterizing pregnancy and childbirth as maladies with disfiguring aftereffects that can be repaired with the help of scalpels and cannulae.
“The message is that, after having children, women’s bodies change for the worse,” said Diana Zuckerman, the president of the National Research Center for Women and Families, a nonprofit group in Washington. If marketing could turn the postpregnancy body “into a socially unacceptable thing, think of how big your audience would be and how many surgeries you could sell them,” she said.
But it isn’t just the plastic surgeons promoting the idea that women should look like they’re in their twenties until they go into a nursing home. Pop culture and the media’s interest in celebrity parents (yes, yes, I know I am guilty of this one) also feed the idea that women should go back to their pre-pregnancy looks just months after delivery.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, last year doctors nationwide performed more than 325,000 “mommy makeovers” on women ages 20 to 39, up 11 percent from 2005, the article says. The procedures cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000.
“But other surgeons worry that packaging multiple procedures under a cutesy nickname could induce women to have additional operations, potentially increasing their risk of everything from infections to death,” the article says. Various studies published in medical journals have reported death rates from liposuction at one in 5,000 procedures to one in 50,000 procedures.
In Dallas, a father and son who are plastic surgeons, Dr. Harlan Pollock and Dr. Todd Pollock, use their Web site, http://www.drpollock.com, to expose the “mommy makeover” as a sales tactic.
“Clever marketing may encourage correction of a deformity that was previously of little concern,” the doctors write. “In other words, a woman seeking a tummy tuck, although not particularly concerned about the appearance of her breasts, may be influenced to have breast surgery just because it is part of ‘the package.’”
This sounds about as classy as a used car lot. “You can’t afford not to throw in the boob job! At these prices, they’re practically giving it away!!”
Well, I may look different than I used to and from what can tell, the trend is downward from here. So I better get used to it. I may try a new hairdo from time to time and even pierce my nose if I’m feeling a mid-life crisis coming on, but I don’t think I’ll be visiting the mommy makeover factory anytime soon.