Correction: I had nothin'...
I got home just now from the park to an email from my friend Todd, who's from London. The area of the city in which he lives has its own website, which is really cool... it's a forum for locals to talk about anything and everything, from politics to restaurants to things going on in the neighborhood. Todd found this notice on the website this morning...
"Hello everybody! I have not posted on the site in the past, but I wanted to ask if there is any body who has used a surgeon for breast implants - must be cheap as possible though. We wanted to give our daughter a surprise 16th birthday present and its what she always wanted. Many thanks for your help. A private email is fine if your shy!"
Assuming this is a sincere question (and it appears to be), I am very nearly speechless (and we know that doesn't happen often). I'm appalled. I'm angry. I'm disgusted. I'm so very sad.
As the mother of a 9-year-old girl, I'm all too aware of what's presented to young girls (and the rest of us) in the media as 'beautiful'. As a woman who has struggled most of my life with body image issues, I understand how it feels not to believe you're beautiful. As a woman whose mother has struggled with body image issues her whole life, I know all too well how important it is not to pass on that legacy.
When will our society finally see that what we are is enough? That being healthy should be what we strive for, not perfection? I'm not saying it's not important to look and feel beautiful... I believe it is. I'm not saying we shouldn't ever do things to enhance our appearances; things that make us feel good; things that make us feel pretty, especially as adults. That would make me a hypocrite. I color my hair because I'm not ready to be grey. I use anti-aging moisturizer because I'd like to look as young as I can for as long as I can. I wear make-up when I go out because I feel prettier when I do. But I'm 44. I'm in charge of my life. And deep down, I wish I didn't feel the need to do those things to feel better about myself.
When I was about 12, I asked my mother if she thought I was pretty. She replied, "Well, you're pretty when you smile." That statement embedded itself in my psyche and remains there, even today, some 30 years later. What I wanted her to say was, "Of course you're pretty! I think you're beautiful!" But what she did was put a condition on my beauty. Children and teenagers need to believe they are beautiful the way the are, without condition. They do not need their looks, body image, or self-esteem quantified or qualified in any way. They need to be told they're enough just the way they are and that their true beauty comes from being healthy and confident and accomplished and compassionate. And maybe, just maybe, if they can feel beautiful without enhancement when they're young, they will continue to feel that way when they're adults and in charge of their own lives, so that they won't want to slice and dice their bodies or faces in order to feel they're enough.
I want to cry for this girl. And I want to fly to London today, find her parents, and kick their asses, not just because they'd even consider an adolescent's request to surgically enhance her body (regardless of the risk to her life and long-term emotional health), but because they'd try to do it cheaply. My God.