In our present society, as in many historical ones, the mutilation of women is fairly common. In Dutch, there even is the saying: “Wie mooi wil wezen, moet pijn lijden”, freely translated: “Who wants to be beautiful has to suffer pain”.
This unfortunately is all too true and in fact is strongly encouraged. This ranges from fairly common things like high heels (guilty of seeing a positive there, I do like being tall but they’re killing my feet), waxing, starvation, and uncomfortable clothes all the way to actually taking the knife to our bodies, just so we can look more like we are supposed to. We have to cut not only our breasts to enlarge them, but also have to get our noses shaved down, our faces have to be paralysed with one of the most potent toxins in the world (really, look up how much botulinum toxin you need to kill a whole city), our eyelids moved, our genitals cut down, and a whole lot of other deeply unpleasant things.
That’s what I want to focus on here, the idiotic cult of plastic surgery, to just come one step closer to some patriarchal ideal. Every time that I see a billboard for this, or that there is any other kind of commercial, it is appalling. People are basically shamed into paying lots of money to undergo surgery (which never is entirely safe), just to change how they look. And in many cases, the surgery doesn’t even work.
Concerning how large a phenomenon it is, this report is very illuminating. More than eighty percent of all surgical cosmetic procedures is performed on women. We can assume that the frequency of reconstructive surgery will be at least as high in men as it is in women, so the ratio for actual purely cosmetic surgery will be much worse.
Of course, reconstructive surgery is something else altogether. If someone has suffered injuries of some kind, I applaud them being repaired, so to say. The same goes with anything that is physically disabling. I mean, in those cases there are actual sound reasons to act.
But why should someone have surgery just to help their self-esteem? Doesn’t that place the problem somewhere else entirely, at the individual, while the problem generally is with society. And if it indeed is an individual problem, making it basically a mental health issue, wouldn’t actual mental health care be a million times better?
Fortunately, I have never had to undergo any kind of surgery, but I know plenty of women who have undergone it. In all cases, it was to be more like how they should be, to meet a standard. And very often, this is because of a standard set by men, enforced by men, and desired by men. The main reason seems to be men, which again shows the idiocy of patriarchy, and how pervasive it is.
We are supposed to do anything we can to improve our appearance for them, which only shows how much of a right society believes that they have to us. We are supposed to surrender every little bit of ourselves, we are supposed to go through a lot of pain. And for what? So we can get a man to hurt us even more.