This week, I went for a ladies’ night out with some friends and we talked about plastic surgery. Most of them were very surprised when I said it was a great idea. They looked at me surprised and said, “Ronit, you?! You are the ‘be happy in life’ person. You believe we need to be happy with ourselves. How can you live with such a contradiction?”
Well, the truth is that I do not see any contradiction at all between having plastic surgery and being happy. But I have to say I did not always think like that.
When I was 16, my best friend wanted to have plastic surgery. When I heard that, I used the same old techniques (those my parents always used) to tell her that “people who are happy with themselves just accept themselves the way they are” and this is when I had a great opportunity to be challenged.
Rene and I became friends about a year after her dad died. She was the youngest in her family and did not cope very well with his death. She asked to go to a boarding school, but that did not work, so she came back to our school in 10th Grade. Rene had the most beautiful skin and lips, but her nose was huge. When I say “huge”, I mean it was so wide, big and lumpy, you could think she had a tumor in it and she hated it.
At one stage, she asked her family to take her to see a plastic surgeon. He told her she was too young to have plastic surgery, so she had to wait, but the more she waited, the worse she felt. Do not get me wrong, she was smart, a good student and had good friends. She just hated her nose.
We talked about it for months and Rene helped me realize I was pumped with thoughts and ideas without really questioning them. We talked about happiness and wanting to change things in your life and in your body. She helped me realize that our life is dedicated to searching for things that will make us happy, yet some things are considered good and others are not, although they serve the same purpose.
I said to her, “Come on, Rene, you need to love yourself as you are”.
“Why?” she asked me.
I did not know how to answer that.
“Do you love everything in your body?” she asked again.
“No, but I wouldn’t go and change it?”
“What about your glasses. Do you accept yourself the way you are?”
“No, but I use them for a medical reason. It’s dangerous to drive without glasses. I can’t see! It’s not the same”.
“Do you change your glasses every year for medical reasons?” she asked.
“Well, no. Glasses are like your face. It’s kind of boring to wear the same glasses for a long time”, I told her and immediately realized what I had said. Rene looked in the mirror every day and she was more than bored to see her nose every time – she hated it. If I had to wear glasses I hated, I would probably hate looking at myself in the mirror.
“What about someone who does liposuction and gets rid of 10kg of fat? Isn’t this medical?” she asked.
“No, that’s cosmetic”.
“Carrying 10 extra kilos on your body is like being pregnant all your life. That’s a burden on your skeleton. It causes so many back problems, I think it’s very medical”, she said.
I stopped arguing. She had a point. People who carry on them so much weight could benefit a lot from plastic surgery that would get this load off their back and feet. I had heard my sister talking about the back pain caused by having very large breasts, so I knew she had a very valid point.
“OK, so liposuction is not only cosmetic, but you don’t have any medical problem caused by your nose. You just want to look better”, I said.
“What’s wrong with wanting to look better? Do you know how much money is spent every week, every month, every year by people buying creams, make up, hair dyes and equipment to look better? They do it all their life, so why is that OK, even though it costs a fortune?”
I did not have an answer for it. She was right. Even I, at the age of 16, without creams and special hair products or make up (I did not have make up back then), used to spend hours fixing my hair. I had 50 bottles of nail polish that I absolutely loved and no one understood why I spent the little money I had on buying that many. She had a point!
“Well, makeup and nails aren’t permanent. You can take them off or stop using them, and you don’t have to cut anything in your body”, I said.
“What about piercing or getting a tattoo, then? Aren’t they permanent things people do in an attempt to look pretty?”
They were. I had my ears pierced when I was 10. It was painful and I suffered for a whole month, but I had never thought about it like that. Because everyone did it, I thought it was a legitimate way to want to look pretty.
“Isn’t it expensive?” I asked.
“It’s expensive, but feeling good is priceless”, she said and I knew she was right. After her dad died, Rene and I talked a lot about living life to the fullest, because you never know when the end will come. Feeling good is priceless.
“What if you don’t like the results?” I asked.
“Well, then I will have to live with it just like you live with what you have, or I will go through another surgery”, she said.
“You just brought up all these things to support your desire to have plastic surgery”, I said to her.
“You’re right. I did it to support my desire and you brought up all your ideas to support your fear. We all do that!” she said.
That hit me really hard. We were best friends and very honest with each other. I thought about what she said. “We all do that!” I realized we hang on to our thoughts to justify our desires and fears.
“What’s the worst that can happen?” she asked and answered, “I won’t like it. But it will be better than it is now, so no matter how bad it is, it will be better. At least I will have done what I thought would make me happy”.
Rene went through plastic surgery on her nose that year. I was with her when she came out of the hospital. Her face looked swollen and scary. Her doctor said it would take 6 months for the swelling to disappear completely. But 3 weeks later, still swollen, it looked beautiful. After that, Rene was never the center of the attention at school, but her confidence changed dramatically.
It was a great lesson for me about self-acceptance and happiness. We are all born to parents we did not choose. Our looks, our talents and our character traits are transferred from our parents or become part of us through our upbringing. Accepting ourselves does not mean that we like everything or that we are happy with everything.
I teach my clients that they have the power to change things in their life. I tell them not to compromise. If your parents divorced and that created heartache and pain, it was not your choice, but you have the power to change your feeling. If you are born with a huge nose and it creates heartache and pain, it was not your choice, but you have the power to change your feeling.
We were sitting for dinner with the other ladies. The discussion about plastic surgery was very heated. I used all of Rene’s justifications, as I myself never did plastic surgery (although when I was 18, I had elective surgery to remove a polyp from my vocal cords, which is why I have the voice and the confidence to be a public speaker today). I told them about Rene and how changing her nose had made a huge change in her teen life and her attitude.
Suddenly, each of the ladies started giving examples of people they knew who had gone through plastic surgery, which had been extremely successful and had made them very happy.
Happiness is a choice without conditions, and if someone chooses to go through plastic surgery to make themselves happy, they will be happier because they have chosen to be happy! In my view, it is better than compromising and hating every time you look in the mirror.
How do you feel about this? Take part in the poll below and post your response and/or experience in a comment.
Would you undergo plastic surgery?
Be happy in life,
P.S. Today, the Australian government released Bullying. No Way! The site offers information on bullying for parents, students and teachers. My friend Maria Delaney is one of the expert contributors to the site.