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.