I’ve been sent this New York Times article by several readers over the last few days about a special cosmetic surgery formula which will cure mothers of looking like… mothers.
The article isn’t all bad – it shows some other opinions, too. But I want to touch on the issues that, well, need to be touched on. Or, rather, kicked violently to the curb.
Before I go on, I want to make it clear that I am not necessarily speaking out against the choice for medical or cosmetic reasons to have surgery like this. I know several of our submissions relate to the experience of having had cosmetic surgery and I cannot possibly judge a woman for the choices she makes for her own body. What bothers me to no end isn’t that some women choose that – it’s that we seem to be expected to choose it. We are expected to hate our bodies, to want to slice them clean of any signs we once nurtured life inside of us. It’s twisted, really.
I also want to say that I don’t expect anyone to be suddenly proud of themselves and in love with their mommy bodies just because The Shape of a Mother exists. That’s not reality, we still have a lot to struggle with – or at least I still do.
But we should be angry that people use our insecurities to further the cycle of women hating their bodies. We should be angry that society wants to “fix” what was never broken to begin with.
“Twenty years ago, a woman did not think she could do something about it and she covered up with discreet clothing,” Dr. Stoker said. “But now women don’t have to go on feeling self-conscious or resentful about their appearance.”
Dr. Stoker is exactly right. We don’t. We can hold each other up and cherish the artwork our children have created. We can remind each other that we are beautiful because we are mothers. We can create a sisterhood of mothers (and all women, really) who can do exactly what Dr. Stoker says, without surgery. We don‘t have to go on feeling self-conscious or resentful about our appearances.
I also like this part of the article…
In 1970, “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” the seminal guide to women’s health, described the cosmetic changes that can happen during and after pregnancy simply as phenomena. But now narrowing beauty norms are recasting the transformations of motherhood as stigma.
I like it because it’s in the present tense. “Are recasting.” That means we still have time to change it! And I believe we can. At least a little. Instead of stigma or even phenomena, let’s aim for words that encompass ideals like honor, strength and beauty.
The issue here is not whether one woman chooses to have cosmetic surgery. The issue is that they tell us we need them. And that is not okay. We have the power to think for ourselves. And to teach our daughters to do the same.