Friday, July 07, 2006

Should It Hurt To Be Beautiful?

As a teenager my family doctor jokingly told me while piercing my ears, “It hurts to be beautiful.” Why does it hurt to be beautiful—or at least to fit into the cultural view of attractiveness—which changes from century to century, decade to decade, year to year, and season to season?

In China infant daughters had their feet bound to keep them dainty—which deformed the bones and left them crippled.

You may think that foot binding is ridiculous, but most of us wear high heeled shoes and other impractical footwear that can cause back pain, and foot malformations. We often give up comfort for vanity’s sake.

In an area in Africa, women elongate their necks with stacks of metal rings—those long necks are ravishing to their tribal men. To me, it seems that swallowing would be difficult. Any procedure that takes the fun out of eating is suspect in my book.

The wearing of iron girdles sounds like a barbaric torture reserved for prisoners in dungeons. Think again! In the 1500s Italian princess, Catherine de Medici—along with many other women at court—wore them to ensure themselves a 13-inch waist. In the nineteenth century, in order to achieve an eighteen-inch waist—women wore their corsets laced so tightly that servants were needed to pull the strings. Not only were the wearers in great discomfort—it was hard to breathe. Smelling salts were carried in case of fainting. Extremely dedicated Victorian women had rib bones surgically removed to make their waist smaller—as have some fashion models in recent history.

According to the news, the incidence of plastic surgery on teenagers has increased; patients are getting younger all the time. Teenagers are begging their parents for plastic surgery, and some girls are getting nose jobs and breast enlargements as high school graduation gifts.

In the past few years, the number of girls as young as 14 having breast augmentation and liposuction has doubled.

There are serious medical concerns about ANYONE having surgery because they are complex procedures. There are risks and complications. People magazine had a special report on “Dying to be Thin—Desperate for a better body, more and more Americans are taking bigger risks—and paying with their lives.” In “A Body To Die For,” they write, “In an endless quest to slim down, image-obsessed Americans try surgery, pills and starvation—sometimes with fatal results…"

Should we endure pain -- or pay with our very lives -- to fit into society's standard of beauty?

No comments: