Betty Friedan might be most known for The Feminine Mystique but it was another book that caught my eye as I skimmed the selections at a used book store in Bowling Green, Ohio at the ripe age of 22. “The Fountain of Age,” I read aloud. It intrigued me from the beginning, not because I felt any of those fears of aging yet but because I saw so many people who stopped embracing themselves as their bodies grew older. I wanted to scream at some of them, “Stop believing what your TV is telling you!” “Don’t look at that ad!” “You don’t need that beauty product to make you beautiful!”
I’ve always been appalled and grossed out by cosmetic surgery, yet I’m proud to wear three tattoos on my body. It’s not so much that I think a woman might find more pleasure in loving herself than in trying to change herself… but that is part of it. Most of all, I’m appalled by the class differences that exist and how capitalism has shaped a world of winners and losers. How could some girls carry Gucci handbags in my high school while others struggled with not knowing where they would sleep for that night, or who was going to commit an atrocious act of violence against them? How could some girls be excused from school for nose jobs while others wondered why they had to come back, day after day, to a place where they were constantly bullied and tormented?
We touched on a lot of subjects in class this week for which I have strong feelings. Cosmetic surgery is one of those topics. People like Lucy Grealey who need cosmetic surgery for health reasons should be able to have access to them without some imagined demand pushing the prices up for the procedures. But more importantly, more women (and men) who have privileges in this life should be taught to embrace themselves as they are, find perfection in their flaws, and stop stereotyping all the damn time. And it wouldn’t hurt to think about what privileges are helping us along in this life.