I’ve never understood plastic surgery from the view point of instilling confidence in a person. How does looking good on the exterior change how you feel about yourself on the inside? So a person suddenly has bigger boobs or bum and everyone starts to complement her (or indeed him); does that truly make the person feel better about herself past the moment of the complement? Do the feelings of inadequacy go away simply because you now look the ‘part’ and people now notice you.
Just so I make myself clear, I’m referring to people who want to change the way they look because they don’t feel good about themselves or have a poor self-image.
I remember growing up and unlike most teenagers, acne decided to take residence on my face in my late teens and pretty much into my late twenties. The scourge of adult acne was not only humiliating but a huge confidence buster. Although I didn’t like how I looked in the mirror, it was more the reaction of others that got me down. To others, it was like I had boils oozing pus rather than acne. And every time someone asked me what I was using, I could have screamed. Having unclear skin seemed to be more an issue for others and that made me all the more anxious to get rid of it. I used every single cream I could find but nothing helped and eventually I decided to face up to the fact that the spots were there to stay. If I’m honest, I felt very ugly with them which wasn’t much of an esteem-boost, particularly as I didn’t feel all that great about myself anyway.
These feelings were heightened when I was around boys. I remember a spot at university where loads of the popular boys used to sit. It was a pathway to the library from my faculty and these guys were perpetually rooted along that path like trees framing an avenue. The thought of passing through filled me with dread, mainly because I felt ugly and unattractive. One day, I came to the decision that ugly or not, there was nothing I could do to change how I looked. And if I couldn’t change it, then I had to accept myself the way I looked and be happy. Ok maybe not happy but content. 🙂
So I started to walk that cat-walk with my head held high, but on the inside it felt like swimming in a sea filled with piranha ready to bite any moment. I would just look straight ahead and walk all the way to the library without glancing at anyone. I survived. The ground didn’t open and gobble me up. Very soon I was not only talking to some of those boys but sometimes, I would be one of the ‘trees’ lining the avenue.
There were boys who actually saw past my acne and wanted to go out with me. Looking back, that doesn’t sound unusual but when you’re young and you believe that the whole world views you exactly the way you feel about yourself, it’s a bit of a surreal moment when you are asked on a date.
I’m glad I worked from the inside out because it helped to shape my character and ensconced self-acceptance in my veins in a way no other experience could have. It taught me clearly that what I thought about myself was more important than what everyone else thought.
As I get older, I’m not as snobbish about plastic surgery as I used to be. I could definitely benefit from a little nip and tuck here and there. Nonetheless, I find hard to believe that surgery can repair a damaged self-image; it might give it a boost in the right direction but that poor self image will eventually need your attention otherwise you’ve simply succeeded in inverting your self-image – pretty on the outside and ugly on the inside.
Choosing to be ugly on the outside and pretty on the inside is not an easy choice. Children can be cruel and it’s difficult to tell a teenager who’s being bullied for their looks that they are beautiful on the inside. Even I would say pass me the sick bucket but we do need to start building a culture that reverses where beauty counts; in our homes and in our communities.
Life is such that not every duckling turns out to be a beautiful swan but every duckling was created good and can have a beautiful life.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows out of it – The Bible: Proverbs 23:4
*Ugly is not a term I like to use to describe anyone but used for the purposes of describing a perception.