“You don’t need to change your face, I think you’re beautiful as you are”…”There’s no need to change your body, we still love you”…”You just need to accept yourself, once you do, you’ll be happy.” These are just some of the comments I get from people who learn of my plans for surgery. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who gets this kind of “lecture”. Sadly, there are many more of these caring phrases…and, worse still, they can come from those closest to us.
Let’s face it (no pun intended), it’s a pretty extreme way of dealing with the issue of how you see, and ultimately love, yourself. Shouldn’t those around us acknowledge that? Friends or even strangers don’t really mind. They are usually more supportive and, if anything, a lot more intrigued – wanting to know more about my intentions…even (respectfully) asking why I want to go through with it. Like with using correct names/pronouns, it’s all about respecting a person’s opinion and wishes. Ok, cosmetic surgery isn’t for everybody. It’s always had a bit of a bad reputation. Programmes that sensationalise surgery, modification horrors or perpetuate negativity really don’t help. Rather than taking the chance to focus on the individual’s choice, they concentrate on the fuck ups. Shock value gets them ratings. As the end user, we get the lectures from those who essentially try and talk us out of it.
Those close to you have your best interests at heart, I agree with that. However I will also say that those interests can be blinding. In some cases, they’re just empty words said to help an individual “feel better” about themselves or cement their own moral stance. A prepared speech on why you shouldn’t do it, never stopping to find out why you decided to go down that route – or even putting themselves in your shoes. I have been told sooooo many times that I look fine as I am now…something that’s swiftly followed by “that’s just the media influencing how you should look” blah blah blah. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yeh? So what about how I see myself? People tell you to live your own life and do what you want…yet here they are telling you not do what you want because of what they say. Yes, the media is an influence…but so is everything else. Isn’t what they’re saying not just an attempt to influence us too? We all have our own ideal or image of perfection. We are, after all, individuals. Free to think and free to choose. So why not try to find out about what we are thinking? I’m not doing this to be loved by anyone in particular. I’m doing this so I can start to love myself. To finally feel comfortable in my own body. Look at it this way: why would anyone choose to put themselves through surgeries, physical pain and long periods of recovery purely for shits and giggles?
I’ve experienced people who somehow turn it around so that the error is my way of thinking. Not theirs. Mine. Would these people tell somebody that’s been badly burned in a house fire to just accept how they are now and move on? Would they say that to a woman who cannot conceive naturally? So somebody born with a limb missing should just deal with it and get on with life because self-acceptance will solve all their problems?! I think not. Accepting what has happened or the way things are is only a small part of a much larger process. Acceptance allows you to finish one chapter and to start the next one. You are the captain of your own journey – it’s up to you where you go from there, as long as you’ve done the right thing and thought about it properly. We all have our reasons for doing what we do. Call it self-expression, aligning the outside of your body with how you feel on the inside…or just straight forward hatred towards how you look…our reasons are our own. Somebody disagreeing with or not wanting to be a part of your journey shouldn’t mean you’re wrong. Well, most of the time, anyway. If you’re going to shoot up a school or drive a car into a busy pedestrianised area, then you clearly took a wrong turn at some point on your journey, my friend. Change or modify yourself, yeh…but that should be where it ends. Never with somebody else.
The really tragic thing is that this “concern” isn’t limited to cosmetic surgery or the transgender community. The body modification professionals and those that choose to pierce their body are no strangers to disapproving comments from people who, essentially, fail to see it from anybody else’s perspective other than their own. “Why on earth would you want to do that to your face?” or “You look stupid with that ring through your nose” are some of the usual remarks, especially from the older generation who will package it as “rebelling”. But is it a rebellion against your parents? Or is it simply because they don’t understand your choices and are making you live according to theirs? During a visit to Holier Than Thou, I was talking to the owner Helen, who understands that each and every person has their own journey to undertake…
“In my eyes, EVERYTHING we do for no reason other than for spiritual adornment/amendment is within the broad category of body modification. If you want to change yourself, no matter how big or how small, it’s for YOU and for no-one else and that self actualisation is so incredibly empowering. Remember, the first spiritual want of man is decoration (Archibald Campbell) and look at the quote by Shannon Larratt about WHY someone may want to change their body.
“Whether you feel ‘you’ with just your earlobes pierced or if you feel ‘you’ with 100% body tattoo coverage, a split tongue, pointed ears etc, it’s the journey of being simply YOU that matters, if you’re true to it, your soul will shine through and you will be beautiful – regardless of your aesthetic. People struggle to comprehend how the aesthetic of a procedure is actually the least important thing – it is very much about simply being you.”
So there you go. We may not always understands a person’s choice but that’s ok. Telling somebody they look fine as they are isn’t ok. It solves nothing for the person those words are aimed at. In a world where individuality is so lost in favour of moving with the crowd, applaud those who choose to dance to a different beat – being themselves and acknowledging that the real reason to make a change is in the journey, not the outcome of a procedure.
Main image: via Google