Motherhood and Tummy Tucks

Recently the world had a collective tantrum when a mother pretended to us all that she was injecting Botox into the face of her eight year old daughter. There was the anticipated media frenzy as well as a full-fledged social media firestorm condemning the mother, condemning the pageant culture and calling for law enforcement to protect the child.

It was the reaction everyone expected. Children should not have Botox. End of story.

There are things that we do as adults that children cannot or should not do. We drink alcohol, we smoke cigarettes, we get Botox, Restalyne and Juviderm. Some people get tattoos, others spend a good amount of money removing them. We pierce our ears and we pierce our faces. There are implants to enlarge breasts, hips, buttocks, and penises. Vaginal rejuvenation is a popular surgery, though I remain puzzled by it.

When I was 27, newly married and trying to get pregnant I stopped smoking, I quit drinking soda, coffee and most processed food. I ate and drank only organic and I felt good about the decisions. My children were both born healthy and had a robust first years.

As the children separated from me physically I gave them organic baby foods, used nontoxic cleansers , guarded their sleep time and slathered them in sunscreen. I wanted to give my children the best possible chance to be physically well. At the same time I was sucking down coffee, sneaking cigarettes and never getting enough sleep.

I love my children. We love our children and we protect them. If only we could love ourselves.

At 35 I started noticing that my eyes looked a little tired and I started hearing women refer to “marionette lines” around the mouth. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw someone 35 looking back at me. I looked at my girlfriends and they looked refreshed.

Two years later they didn’t look just refreshed, they looked startled and fluffy faced. I’m not really sure how to explain what happens to a woman’s lips when they’re overly puffed up. It changes her face and as she loses clear definition of her philtrum (Cupid’s Bow) she begins to look ape like and distorted. At the same time she looks more and more like actresses of a certain age, and since they are celebrated for their beauty, this must be beautiful. We believe.

Now at 41 my phone rings. Not once or twice but a half dozen times my girlfriends call, they are planning tummy tucks and breast lifts. I suggest a really expensive bra and a girdle, but they talk about how having children ruined them and that they want to wear a bikini again. I suggest kindly that a full life can be had without wearing a bikini or that they should wear one anyhow. No one cares what we look like, we just think they do. No one listens to me and they make appointments to carve up their perfectly unbroken bodies.

Reaching utter exasperation I finally risk it all with a friend. One evening at night I let loose and lecture her. “I need you to do me a favor and go to your daughter’s bedroom. I want you to look at her while she sleeps in her bed and imagine now that while she is sleeping a doctor will cut a line around her midsection, discarding her belly button and then he’ll pull her loose skin up like a pair of pants and sew it all back together.”

She gasped. I continued, “Everything you do to your body your daughter will do to hers. Every time you disfigure yourself at the doctor’s office your daughter is watching. Does she look imperfect to you? Does she need to be fixed?” And then I went on to tell her that she was perfect and beautiful and valuable and that she needn’t hack her body to bits.

A year later she got the surgery.

Facebook Comments

  • I loved this rant! I totally agree. I mean, yeah I’m young, no kids yet, but I hate, hate, hate when women hack the shit out of their bodies. It’s totally creepy, and you are right, young girls are seeing all of it. And I too am perplexed with Vaginal Reconstruction. Is that how strippers become “born again”?

  • Mrspop007

    So… I got my forehead Botoxed for the first time two weeks ago. I love the result, hate the poison. I’m torn. I use Retin-A. My boobs are too small, but I have better plans for the dollars a boob job would cost. It is my hope that continual P90X will keep things in place. It is also my hope that Joey is learning that exercise is not optional.

  • FWIW, most men I know prefer a natural woman. Sure, it is fun to talk about being with some hard bodied girl. We laugh about it and talk about what fun it would be. I am willing to say that for most of us that fun would be short lived.

    I won’t lie and say that I don’t see what childbirth and mothering have done to your body. But I tend to prefer what life and experience has done to your mind over the lack thereof within the girls. And yes, I say girls intentionally because that is how quite a few of them come off.

    That is not to say that cosmetic surgery is an automatic turnoff because it is not. Every situation is different. But there is something sexy about a woman who has lived a little bit and doesn’t get crazy cuz time is winning. We all fight that battle. The question is how we do it.

  • Amen, Jessica. My daughter is the most beautiful sight in all the world, and guess what– she looks like no one more than she does me. If I don’t think I’m good enough, what will she believe?

    Did you see the thing today about a mom giving her daughter (age 7) a voucher for a boob job “when she’s older?” If her boobs turn out to be big enough, she can always use it for something else.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/09/human-barbie-boob-job-voucher_n_873705.html

  • GreenInOC

    Plastic surgery starts to masculinize women and feminize women.  Women start to look like transgendered men mid-transition and vice versa.  It’s a very odd desire to want to have plastic surgery to look better to men but start looking like one instead!

  • Shop with Me Mama (Kim)

    Love this post, it is so true and you said it so well!

  • I loved this post and totally agree. It’s my most beautiful friends that are the most insecure about aging. Hey, I don’t love it either, but I refuse to cut my body open or inject poison into my face. (Now poison into my scalp to cover those roots… that’s a different story!) You are a good friend Jessica!

  • Heather

    You brought tears to my eyes.  Something I have long thought about is how my daughter watches everything that I do. How many times have I channeled my own mother’s voice, “I’m so fat.” in my life?   I want so badly to leave behind a more positive legacy, than the one that our shallow culture seems to encourage us to leave.

  • Anonymous

    My family has saggy eyelids…So saggy it starts to reduce our vision…But it doesn’t come on until ya hit your 50s…So I’ve got a few good years to go.  My mother’s sisters all “fixed” this problem the minute it appeared in their mid 40s…Only now they are actually IN their 50s and it doesn’t matter that they got fixed…their eyelids are drooping anyway.  They should have waited.  ;)  I take after my father…and hopefully that means I’ll basically stop aging at 38.  He really has…It’s almost…creepy.  But I’ll try not to be TOO creeped out by it.  :D

  • I wrote recently that I love that getting dressed up at my age means something different now than it did when I was younger. It’s no longer appropriate, thankfully, for me to wear a short dress and f** me pumps. Nor do I want to! It’s one of the perks, frankly.

  • Cassieboorn

    I am reading The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus right now and I think you will like it as well. They talk a lot about this topic right here. 

    It is so true that young girls follow their mothers lead like this. So sad. 

  • I think what you said to your friend was so perfect. It is sad that she did not internalize your words.

  • Very well written.. parents should be a role model to their kids. Every steps you do
    they’ll  follow..

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