I had big plans for this post. But you know what they say about the best laid plans…something about mice and Robert Burns. And probably haggis. There’s usually haggis involved.
In the whirlwind that’s been my life lately, I didn’t have time to research and plan out this post the way I wanted to. Normally, I’d wait until I had time, do the aforementioned research and planning and then post, but I didn’t want to let today go by without acknowledging it. Today is the 10 Year Anniversary of my face.
I’ve mentioned my surgeries before, but just to recap: in December, 2000, I had several medically necessary surgeries on my face to reshape and realign my jaws. A genetic condition caused my jaws to grow at different rates when I hit puberty, and my lower jaw ended up larger than my upper jaw. In moments when I’m feeling especially self-depricating, I describe it as Jay Leno in a wig, but it wasn’t quite that bad. But it wasn’t right, either. Looking at my face, something was “off”: I wasn’t proportional. So I had the surgeries, fixed my face, and have had ten years to think on it.
And in those ten years, I’ve had a lot of thoughts. First, and most importantly, I’m so grateful I had the surgeries. The procedures to alter my jaws gave me back the face I was supposed to have. But I got that face back through processes that carry a lot of stigma within society. Granted, there were medical reasons that these surgeries were necessary, but the biggest personal reason was cosmetic. The part of me that was so desperate to look different than I did understands what drives others to use surgery to change their appearance. And so I’ve found myself defending people’s plastic surgery choices more than I used to. I also find myself considering future plastic surgery; specifically, my nose, which the operations on my jaws accidentally damaged. My old nose was thinner and sleeker (see the photo above), my new nose is much wider and sorta lumpy. I miss my old nose, and some day I may chose to change it back. I also may not. But surgery is an option, and one I would not be ashamed to chose.
I know what it feels like to look at yourself and just know that what you see in the mirror is not who you are supposed to be. And in all the discussions of body image that occur within this section of the blogosphere, I think that conversations over the potentially positive power of surgical change are worth having. My surgeries didn’t just prevent future medical issues. My surgeries reshaped my self-esteem. My surgeries allowed me to feel comfortable smiling again. My surgeries changed my face back to one that looked like my mother’s. My surgeries gave me back my face. I can’t begin to explain how much that changed and defined me.
Yep, that’s me. One classy broad.
So happy anniversary to a face that’s laughed until it cried, sang Mozart in front of a full house, touched its nose with its tongue, can hold the contents of an entire tin of Altoids at one time, keeps trying to whistle but just ends up blowing raspberries, and now seizes every opportunity to smile. Happy anniversary to me.
Have any of you had cosmetic (elective or not) surgeries? Do you have any suggestions for discussions on the roles of plastic surgery already happening in the blogging world?
For another perspective on the positive role of elective plastic surgery, read Rose’s story in Yes and Yes’s True Story series.
Note: I am not trying to defend or encourage the extreme cosmetic surgeries or argue for surgery as a substitution for a healthy lifestyle and concious effort to build self esteem. Any invasive procedure is a big decision that should not be chosen lightly. I’m just continuing to explore my own feelings about cosmetic procedures and understand where surgery fits into discussions of esteem and personal identity.