On Motherhood and Plastic Surgery

First of all, I should address potential concerns anyone who actually knows me have based on the title… I am neither pregnant, nor trying to conceive. I’ve also never had plastic surgery (unless we are counting a bunionectamy) and don’t have any planned procedures.

Being in my mid/late 20’s, I’ve hit the age where lots of friends and loved ones are embracing parenthood. The number of children in my social circle who have either been conceived or born in the last year has got to be in the high teens, at least. Unsurprisingly, the topic of “mommy makeovers” (tummy tuck and breast augmentation and/or lift) has recently arisen, too. An old friend took it as a personal affront that she received a web-based advert for plastic surgery when visiting a pregnancy website. This prompted said mommy-to-be to unleash a Facebook rant about how shameful such advertising is and that she was too “proud a mother” to ever consider such a procedure. While I applaud my friend’s confidence and enthusiasm for birthing children, I can’t help thinking this kind of declaration is any less shameful or judgemental than the one she is rallying against. Why are being a good parent and having a “perfect” body mutually exclusive? Surely one’s feelings toward stretch marks and saggy boobs doesn’t affect her ability to love and nurture a child? Further, would the same anti-mommy makeover clan consider a parent who chose to adopt or whose fertility issues required using a surrogate less of a parent because they didn’t carry or birth their child? What about gay couples like Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, who went to great lengths to have their own (adorable) biological children – are they less proud because they don’t have the war wounds to prove it?

I’m not trying to say that the western world doesn’t have an unhealthy obsession with youth and beauty, but that is another argument entirely. I also understand some people are opposed to plastic surgery for other moral or religious reasons (although I do hope anyone arguing the latter is also arguing vehemently against genetically modified, non-organic food, because, you know, God gave you apples, so why do you have to mess with how they were made?) I have difficulty getting on board with anyone who thinks any sort of plastic surgery makes them a better OR worse person. They are – as the name implies – cosmetic procedures. That is, they affect ones appearance and nothing else (well, perhaps the level of confidence one has tied to their appearance). Knowing mothers who have gone under the knife post-baby, I can’t distinguish between the quality of parenting they provide compared to my au naturale friends. Maybe my view will change at the point Mr O and I yearn to bring little ones into this world more than we yearn for efficiency, flexibility and financial security. For the time being though – especially having loved ones from every conceivable style of family situation – I’d rather just assume that an advert from a plastic surgeon seen by a pregnant lady is no more a personal affront than an advert for Domino’s pizza seen a coeliac vegan. If the service or product isn’t appropriate for you, ignore and move on.

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