Yesterday, I did something I thought I would never do.
I had what is considered a cosmetic procedure done at my dermatologist's office. Before you jump to any conclusions, which involve terms such as face lifts and Botox, let me assure you that it was not in that category.
Yet, upon reflection yesterday evening as my body was beginning the healing process, I wondered how removing a bump on the bridge of my nose was any different than the many ways we modify our faces and bodies to fit the diverse worldwide perceptions of the beautiful body.
From tribal tattoos and body piercings to the immobile mannequin faces from extensive plastic surgery, we have physically modified our bodies for thousands of years. Almost ten years ago, I had my first encounter at a Dallas airport with a woman who looked like a much younger version of her adult daughter sitting beside her. You could only guess at her more advanced age when looking at the brown spots and collagen lacking condition of her hands.
At the time, I wondered what would push someone to take such drastic measures to modify the way they looked. A decade later, I think I now have a better and more compassionate understanding of her choices. My own procedure was partly motivated by a practical reason. This bump on the side of my nose, which showed up during the hormonal changes of menopause, was interfering with how my glasses fit comfortably, but I have to also admit to a secondary reason. I was also influenced by how others perceived and commented on the aesthetically non-pleasing effect this natural sign of aging had on those who viewed my face.
Please note that this discomfort was originally not mine, since I did not see my own face, but with many years of wearing down by others, I finally agreed to the elective laser procedure. With 20/20 hindsight, I now fully know that none of us would voluntarily choose to surgically cut, burn or freeze off any part of our body. Only the way we think others will view us, in other words our ego's internal dialogue, can lead us to make such an attack on our natural immune system, when we are not in a situation of medical emergency. I should also point out that I have had my ears pierced as a young adult, but no tattoos.
I am not judging those who do these surgeries. I am simply explaining my belief that, based on my recent experience, this action goes against the body's innate desire to protect itself.
In today's western society, where the youthful look is venerated and photo shopped images are the new standard, I shudder at the thought of what our children's children will have to face as they age well into the 21st century.