Friday, December 9, 2016

Keeping It Real or Minding Our Business?

April 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Body Image

Is it okay to state a preference for non-surgically enhanced bodies in entertainment?  Or are we passing judgment (specifically on women) where we should be allowing a right to do what one wants?

The New York Times published an article today about a movement in Hollywood to hire actors and actresses who have not had plastic surgery (or, at least, not the extensive and/or noticeable kind).  There seems to be a movement afoot to have people on screen who look like, well, people  – and not plasticized versions of them.  In particular, the article states how casting for period pieces requires close scrutiny (since, you know, it’s not like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet had any nips, tucks, or fillers done).

I’ll admit, I read that article with joy.  Personally, I strongly dislike watching television shows or films with what I consider overly enhanced actors and actresses.  I find it to be incredibly distracting for a number of reasons: I find myself trying to figure out what they had done, wishing they hadn’t done it, wondering what they’d look like if they hadn’t, wondering why they thought they needed to have work done, wondering why anyone feels like they need to have work done… and so on.

And this coming from someone who has had work done.  So, naturally, I can’t be against plastic surgery entirely since I’ve gone under the knife myself.  As I’ve mentioned previously, I had a tummy tuck and a breast reduction and lift following the weight loss after my gastric bypass surgery.  When I mention this, people sometimes say things like, “Oh, but that was corrective” which, in a way, is true and, honestly, how I see it myself.  Due to all my years of being obese, my skin didn’t have the elasticity to “snap back” into place after losing weight.  It simply didn’t know where that place was or the fact that it was supposed to be doing any snapping at all.  So it just hung there, making me feel bad about myself because I had clearly done this thing to my body (gaining weight) that made it unable to “retract” as it was “supposed to.”  I felt like I had failed what nature gave me.

Today I have significantly more self confidence, but would still make the same decision.  However, now, it would be less about what other people would think about my hanging belly skin or droopy breasts, and more about how the excess skin actually hindered my mobility.  That was a part of my decision at the time, but it would be more primary now.  I’ve always said, though, “But I would never do anything to my face.”  But what if there was a feature on my face that I felt about how I previously felt regarding my stomach or breasts?

So who, then, am I to pass judgment on someone who may feel similarly about their face?  But I do.  I hate that I do, but I do.  Because who’s to say where the line is?  When is getting a nose reshaped okay and in line with one’s face and when is it clearly overdone?  When are breast implants a reasonable enhancement and when are they ridiculous?  Or is any of it reasonable?  I would bet that many of us have said that some plastic surgery looks good and that some looks terrible.

So I’m left to wonder if this movement to hire non-enhanced actors and actresses is significant beyond this article and whether the pendulum is actually swinging back toward recognizing and honoring natural beauty.  Given the choice, I would much prefer watching a film with actors and actresses in their 60s who actually look like they’re in their 60s than those who are in their 60s but are playing a character in his or her late 40s and it looks like they chiseled themselves into the role.  The idea of seeing actors regularly play roles fitting the age they are is truly exciting to me.

This really good blog post states that we can’t ask people to leave Gabourey Sidibe’s body size alone and then turn around and criticize Kate Hudson for allegedly getting breast implants.  In both cases, it’s their body and they are free to do as they choose, as we all are.

So why, then, this gut reflex against obvious plastic surgery (specifically facial  or large breast implants)?  And is saying, “Oh, Actress X should really have left her face alone” the same as criticizing Gabourey Sidibe for her size?  Or what about debating the merits of Jennifer Hudson’s Weight Watchers campaign?  (Another situation where I find myself torn between thinking she looks great and that she’s a great role model by refusing to say how much she’s lost but then wondering if she felt she “had to” lose weight to keep working.)

Our bodies are always our own.  Always.  So is there a time when judgments are acceptable?  Is there a different set of rules if your job includes being a public figure and what you change about your body is most likely related to that profession?  If you haven’t had plastic surgery, would you ever?  Would you have some procedures and not others?  And is it ever anyone’s business but our own?

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