I received a wonderful Mother’s Day gift
the other day: tickets to Riverdance. The performance is on Saturday, hence the
early presentation. I’m thrilled, but I would have been quite happy with
flowers, breakfast in bed or being taken out for dinner. That makes me a bit
old-fashioned, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. A survey
they published this week shows that, if cost were not an issue, 62 percent of
mothers would consider a “mommy makeover” that includes procedures such as a
tummy tuck, breast augmentation and/or breast lift.

Of course, you have to take any “news release”
or survey by plastic surgeons with a chuckle and a grain of salt; is it news,
or just wishful product promotion? I would really like to know how many women
they surveyed, and where the majority of their sample came from: California’s
Silicon Valley? The Bible Belt?

Regardless, I don’t know whether to think
this story silly or sad. Probably both. The ASPS promo — er, release — makes
it sound as though women are empowering themselves; to me it seems many are
unwilling to face reality and/or unable to accept themselves. They continue buying
into the beauty industry’s impossible and outrageously expensive standards.
 

“In the last decade we’ve seen women’s
attitudes about cosmetic surgery change. Today women are not afraid to admit
that they love their children, but they wish their bodies looked the way they
did before their first pregnancies. And they’re not afraid to acknowledge that
they may need a little help beyond a healthy diet and exercise,” said ASPS
President Phillip Haeck, MD.

 
This is silly. It is just delusional to
think you can turn back the clock. Once you have been pregnant and given birth,
your body will never be the same. Never. But that’s OK. Motherhood is worth it.
I am really sick of the beauty and entertainment industries telling us that
women can be beautiful and sexy in spite of motherhood. Moms are beautiful
because of it.

I am past my mid-40s, and I feel great. If
I may boast a little, I’ve had seven babies and wear the same size jeans as my
slim 22-year old — but I know the years are marching on. I’m at peace with it.
Whether you are a mom of one child or twelve; whether you are single or
married, male or female, young or old, it is best to face reality: humans age
day by day, and no surgery, cream or dye will take back the years.

Sagging breasts and tummies are part of the
reality of ageing. Suck it up! If you exercise, improve your posture and wear
supportive underwear, you can perk up your outline much more economically. I
have laugh lines around my eyes—big deal. (I will never call them “crow’s
feet”— No crow has ever stepped on my face, but I do laugh very often, and the
joy of family life causes much of it.) No Botox for me. Instead of trying to
freeze a moment in time, why not just live life to the full at every stage?

This
brings us to the sad part of the makeover trend — if that’s what it is:

Another trend that ASPS Member Surgeons
are noticing is that the type of patient seeking “mommy makeover” plastic
surgery is younger than a decade ago.

“In the past we saw a lot of women in
their 50s getting these types of procedures. But today we are seeing young
mothers in their 30s coming in for procedures such as tummy tucks and breast
lifts. They don’t want to wait years to re-establish how they used to look.
They want their pre- baby bodies back now,” said Dr [Phillip] Haeck.

 
If mothers in their 30s are having these
procedures, it means they are not only buying into the false standards and
delusions, they are also having fewer children and rushing to put their
childbearing years behind them, as if this life phase were some kind of
temporary disease, instead of a blessing and privilege.

At some level, it reveals an attitude that
has a horror of self-sacrifice for the other, a society that thinks of
motherhood in terms of imposition (“I want my body back”), if not invasion
(some pro-choice rhetoric refers to the unborn child as a parasite). It bespeaks
a shallow and vacuous culture where women are valued for their appearance and sex
appeal but not their irreplaceable role as wives and mothers. I know we women
bring some of this on ourselves (we are too self-critical), but to what extent
are the men in our lives to blame for this?

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be
attractive. Humans are hard-wired that way. I also believe in striving for good
health of body, mind and soul. That requires proper diet and exercise, but also
a realization that there are no quick — much less permanent — fixes. Note
that I said “quick”, not “easy”. Having had a large facial mole surgically
removed (my doctor feared malignancy), I know what even a minor surgery costs
in terms of pain and down time. It amazes me how deep our capacity for
suffering is when it comes to our own vanity and gratification; less often does
it spring from a desire to serve others.

How ironic that to celebrate Mother’s Day,
some women would aspire to obliterate any physical evidence of their maternity.
I think I’ll have to go see a jolly good show to get over that.

Mariette Ulrich is a homemaker and
freelance writer. She lives in western Canada with her husband and six of their
seven children. She blogs on Family Edge.

Mariette Ulrich is a homemaker and freelance writer. She lives in western Canada with her husband and six of their seven children. Mariette holds an Honours B.A. in English Literature...