I am all for you doing whatever you want to your body – it is yours (although please don’t do drugs, people). But if a woman choses to get a boob job or fuller lips is it then – even if it is because she thinks it looks good – ever actually an independent choice?
Most cosmetic plastic surgery fits into the standards of the male gaze, it makes you more fuckable to use a charming phrase but let’s not sugar coat the truth. Are any of our beauty standards independent choices? I’ll go out on a limb and say yes. Some are. Tattoos, make up choices, hair colour are all to a certain degree a choice made by women for themselves, most of us who don’t follow modern beauty standards will agree with me. To a lot of men we probably look absolutely ridiculous (yay). But big permanent alterations like a boob job are a different matter, I believe.
Or actually let’s start smaller. Like I shave my legs, and I tell myself I thought about it and I chose it, but why? Why do I think it looks better with smooth legs?
Because that’s what I was taught. Back to the boobs. I am a very small A cup and my whole life I wished my breasts were bigger because I thought it would look better (read: I thought boys would like me more – and they probably would have because boys are also taught that a certain body type is attractive).
It took me roughly 17 years from they began to show at 13 to around 30 before I started to learn to appreciate the way I look naturally. And I am not pointing fingers at women or men having work done. It is your body. But when people say there’s no need to change the world and the media I will argue that they are wrong.
You might be strong and clever enough to have learned not to buy into society’s beauty standards and you might think that you will pass that on to your kids. And sure, you might. But you are not the only influence in your childrens lives. And not everyone have you as a parent.
I grew up with a mother who was (and is) fairly indifferent towards body hair – but I was still taught by movies, magazines, TV and dammit even books that women should shave. So I did. I do. Children and young adults are easily influenced by friends and society because they are still finding themselves, they want to fit in.
That’s why we need change. Remember the Adidas model with hairy legs who got death threats and was encouraged to kill herself because she didn’t shave her legs. Because I do. So tell me again I had a choice growing up when the alternative was being told I was disgusting and had no right to live because I didn’t follow society’s rules. Now, that didn’t happen to me but it didn’t have to. Because we know, don’t we. We know what is acceptable because that is what we see. And we hear how people talk about other people.
We need to stop commenting on other people’s bodies and our own negatively especially in front of children. We need to see body hair on billboards, we need to see small breasts, we need to see real plus size people (don’t you dare give me that size 12 and call it plus), we need to see people of colour in advertisement, we need to see not-able bodied people in the media – we need all the stories and all the representation portrayed as normal and beautiful – because it is – and then maybe our grandchildren can have an actual choice.