How do you feel about them?

I was reading this article by the amazing Elna Baker, who talks about the self-consciousness she went through after losing 110lbs, and then the self-consciousness she now feels after getting the excess skin surgically removed. The entire Refinery29 anti-diet project series is well worth reading, but this one struck me because it ended on such a down note and seems to begin where it ended.

I know there’s a very strong push for body acceptance, and that all alterations always come with risk (from anything minor to ultimately death depending on what it is), but sometimes people just aren’t happy with certain parts of themselves. Getting tattoos is its own cosmetic procedure, but I’ve known heavily tattooed people who judged the hell out of women who got their lips or botox done.

I once worked with a woman who I had no idea had breast implants, because they were maybe an A cup or a very small B cup at most. But she told me that before surgery, she was extremely self-conscious of her body to the point where she sometimes wouldn’t leave the house. Meanwhile, my heavily tattooed coworker clicked her tongue behind this woman’s back and judged her for getting them done at all. I really don’t miss the drama of working at a department store makeup counter.

I once brought up the idea of me wanting to buy circle lenses just to try them out, and I was immediately shamed out of it by some coworkers through a chorus of, “Your eyes are so beautiful already!” And then I got accused of trying to “be white”. I ended up getting colored contacts because they were fun, much more easy to access than circle lenses in the US at the time, and it was a small cosmetic expense that made me happy. And you know what? They looked amazing, and I had fun with them for a while and didn’t look anymore white with them in. They were just something different from my usual day to day and made me care significantly less about how I have one eye that’s slightly larger than the other.

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This post isn’t very focused, but I’m kind of tired of seeing scared straight articles about cosmetic procedures and alterations disguised as body acceptance. I’m also really tired of seeing every celebrity gossip rag speculate all the livelong day about if someone has had plastic surgery, while at the same time glorifying women who lose baby weight at lightning speed after giving birth. Is there a way to both accept people for how they currently look, and also accept them when they decide to change it for themselves?