My New Mommy

In my last post, I neglected to mention the biggest pregnancy-related change in my body, which manifested itself very early on both last time and this time around-the gigantic state of my boobs. I swear to you that the nanosecond I hung up the phone with my clinic after learning that I was pregnant, my boobs immediately grew a cup size.

I realize the grass is always greener, and that there are probably at least a handful of you who long for bigger "girls." Alas, I am not one of them. I breastfed Isabella for 13 months, and even after taking up running again as soon as I could after she was born, my breasts failed to return to their previous "small and perky" state. Instead, they remained quite large (for my frame) and droopy. They are not my best asset.

As much as I would like them to look differently, I'm stuck with them for life. But many women out there are opting for breast and other cosmetic surgery. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 348,000 women opted for breast augmentation last year (the most popular cosmetic surgery). And 148,000 received tummy tucks.

Throw in some lipo, and you have what's known as the "mommy makeover." Yes, it actually has a name.

Worried your kids will be scared when you come home swathed in bandages or won't recognize you after the surgery? Never fear. There's a new children's picture book on the market that will make everything better.

"Look! Mommy's gone, but in her place, I now have my very own life-size Malibu Barbie! Sweet!"

According to this article in Newsweek, "My Beautiful Mommy" is written for kids ages 4 through 7 and is supposed to ease their fears concerning mommy's recovery and subsequent "new look." It tells the story of a little girl whose mommy is going away to get a boob job, tummy tuck, and nose job. As explanation, mommy tells her daughter, "You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn't fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better."

It's unclear why mommy has chosen to throw in a nose job and also how bigger boobs are going to help her fit into her apparently too-small clothes. But the mommy needn't worry that her daughter might not recognize her when she comes back home. She tells her daughter, "My nose may look a little different after the operation." "Why are you going to look different?" the girl asks. "Not just different, my dear — prettier!" Mommy responds.

Let's hope the wee tot took in a healthy dose of self-esteem along with her Cheerios that morning. With the emphasis placed on appearing "prettier," what's to stop the little girl from thinking her nose doesn't stack up either, especially if it's the imperfect "before" nose given to her from her mother's genetics?

What are we as a society doing to our girls? If you're the mother of a young child, and especially a little girl, and you're headed under the knife for some elective plastic surgery, do you really want to hand her a book that makes it look like elective plastic surgery is not only desirable, but the stuff that fantasies are made of? What's wrong with telling her, "Mommy doesn't feel well and the doctor is going to make me feel better"? What's worse: a white lie or a potential wallop to her ego when she suddenly starts asking for her own nose job so the doctor can make her "prettier" just like Mommy?

I'm not condemning all elective plastic surgery. Personally, it's not for me, but others can obviously do as they please. Kate Gosselin of Jon and Kate Plus 8 had a tummy tuck two years after the birth of her sextuplets. A plastic surgeon offered her a free one after she bared her massively stretched out stomach on a television special and revealed how she had to wear a special garment under her clothes just to keep the excess flesh from spilling out over the waistband of her pants. In this case, I would have taken the doctor up on his offer too.

But I think we have to proceed very carefully in the way elective plastic surgery is presented to young children, and especially to little girls, whose self-esteems are so fragile.

And if your plastic surgery has changed your appearance so drastically that you need a book to explain to your child who you are after going under the knife, I think you've made an appointment with the wrong kind of doctor.

13 Responses to “My New Mommy”

  1. # Blogger Jesser

    I've seen that on some parenting blogs. Kinda frightening. I don't really condemn plastic surgery either, but that book emphasises all the wrong things. sheesh.  

  2. # Anonymous Lis Garrett

    Sick and twisted, that's all I have to say.  

  3. # Blogger Mom24

    This book is trash. When I first heard about it, I assumed it was a joke. It's still hard for me to believe there aren't a couple of authors somewhere laughing out loud at anyone who actually buys this book.

    I've been seeing a lot of posts lately too about people at the ocean, pools, water parks, etc., who have terrible bodies. The message that's been repeated over and over is that these people should not go out in public, let alone anywhere requiring a bathing suit. That makes me sad. I'd rather see someone taking their kids on outings and refusing to hide inside because their body is not what it should be, than the opposite. It's a wonder any little girl can grow up to be mentally healthy in our society.  

  4. # Anonymous Amy

    Definitely some situations warrant plastic surgery, as you mention, and it's certainly a personal choice, but...

    ITA with you, and I think excessive plastic surgery is part of a larger problem. It's shocking how many people don't raise their children to be thoughtful and critical thinkers and instead only focus on the superficial.

    One of my third grader's classmates, for example, lives down the street from us. Her mother doesn't really make sure she reads regularly or achieves much in school (and the girl is bright), but when competition time comes around for the kid's cheerleading? The mom pours all her time and attention into the team. She loves her daughter and wants her to be happy, and for her this means ensuring her daughter is pretty and popular as she grows up. We're talking about a 9 year-old here.

    This kid is growing up with such a distorted set of values and self-image, I can't even begin to describe it. Plus, she tries to force those values on the other girls in the class---she tries to belittle them if they don't wear the clothing brands she wears and talks constantly about how she's going to be popular in high school and be mean to all the "dorks." Luckily, my kid and all the other girls don't join her in ganging up on one another.

    Anyway, I could write about this all day. I'm the mom who will let my daughters take any lessons and join any activity but cheerleading. I'm also the one who says, "It's okay that you like Hannah Montana. I just want you to understand that Disney is not trying to produce good music. They're marketing Miley Cyrus as a brand to get parents to buy Hannah Montana clothes and toys."

    We talk a lot about consumerism, marketing to children, self-image and confidence, and valuing strength and intelligence.

    In short, yes. I'm the mom they will roll their eyes at and complain about to their friends in middle and high school.

    But I'm okay with that. :)  

  5. # Blogger My Wombinations

    As someone who suffers from mild body dysmorphia and who has been bulimic in the past, I am especially concerned about raising my child to not hate her body. I am adamantly opposed to plastic surgery, but this does not mean that my values (the "I am so fat," the "I wish I could lose just a few more pounds") will not trickle down to my child.

    I worry all the time that she will be like me in this regard. I love watching her pull at her buddha belly and roll around naked with food on her face. She is so unself-conscious and I wish it never had to end. The idea that I would show her a book like this, which I have seen on many other blogs as well, horrifies me.

    The message? Mommy needs big boobs, a flat tummy and a new nose to feel good and let daddy like her. I wonder what that will perpetuate in her little girl. Honestly, it makes me so mad, I want to hit the author.

    On the other hand, the reason I stay a size four is that I work my ass off. Is that any worse than plastic surgery? While there are other benefits to exercise, staying thin is top on my list. I hope this does not make me a hypocrite.  

  6. # Blogger Chas

    Wow, I hadn't heard of this book. It's amazing what gets published these days.

    I wouldn't say I'm anti-plastic surgery in general, but I'm anti-plastic surgery for me (feel free to ask me if I've changed my mind after this pregnancy...I just might :). I have never been so unhappy with any aspect of my body that I thought I wanted to risk going under the knife, though there was a time many years ago when I'd have gone through surgery to shave a few inches off of my height.

    My mom actually has had a boob job. She had it when I was about 17. In her case, she wasn't doing it so she could look like a babe..she was doing it b/c she had training bra sized boobs and a much larger frame....she looked weird. Now she's a C cup and looks normal. I was blessed with Cs to begin with, so I am pretty happy about it. I was hoping they'd go up a size or two during pregnancy, but they didn't. This time is no different. Oh well.  

  7. # Anonymous Ness

    I must admit a mommy makeover sounds good right about now. I've just had my second child, and well over the last 5 years I've gained too much weight. The thing is, it's starting to come off really well now (I'm down nearly 45 pounds already) through diet and exercise, but my skin is stretched to hell from this last pregnancy, even my cankles had cankles from raised blood pressure. Anyhoo, I was always anti plastic surgery, but now I definitely see the plus side! I won't go and get a nose job, but boob lift n perk and tummy flap tuck sounds good. A friend of mine has just scheduled a boob augmentation, she doesn't have kids, but also has reeeally tiny 'girls'. She's seeing one of the best surgeons in our city. Apparently he's so booked up, that he has a system whereby you make an appointment, he sees you, and if possible they do the surgery THE SAME DAY. When she told me this, we were sitting with her husband at the time, and I said, "You're getting your wife drive-thru boobs?" it was hilarious :)  

  8. # Blogger sher

    Insanity! That could be a Saturday Night Live skit--but it's for real! It is sad that women are being told that normal bodies are unattractive.

    I would have taken the tummy tuck too--that's different to me. But, I've seen young girls in high school talking about getting breast implants when they are 18.  

  9. # Anonymous Lisanne

    That is just weird. I'm not anti-plastic surgery or anything, but I definitely would *not* do it. Having said that, though ... I hate my boobs lately! Ugh! They didn't go back to the size they were before I had children ... they got SMALLER! I want some Dolly Partons. Seriously. I wish that my pregnancy boobs had stayed. Oh well. :(  

  10. # Blogger Shannon

    Well I know I will have plastic surgery in a few years... as you can tell from the one flickr photo my upper arms went to hell pretty quick with the weight loss... so other than arms getting fixed, boobs need to get smaller they are killing my back now and some tummy stuff that is all that I see myself getting... but I do have another 115 pounds to go... but the tummy part will be a must... I get all kinds of strang rashes and itchy spots now... and summer isn't even hear yet lol...

    But that book is crazy... some of these women look awesome and think they need plastic surgery... and that is when I hate hollywood... ugh whatever... I like myself but I am going to have a tad to much extra skin... I bet my tummy will look worse than Kate's hehehe...  

  11. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    I am can't believe there's a book for that! Wow. Guess there really is a book for everything.  

  12. # Blogger Damselfly

    I've read about this book, even in my local paper. It's just sad when books for kids focus only on a person's appearance, as if that defines them -- that's the real problem.  

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