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.

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