I find Davis’s article on surgical passing to be intriguing, perhaps because I am somewhat fascinated by plastic surgery, but also very interested in what motivates a person to commit to such a physical transformation.
So much of the time when plastic surgery is discussed, people paint those who receive plastic surgery as “victims.” Helpless to the confining ideals of the beauty standard and unable to forget painful childhood memories of being teased about a big nose, a pudgy belly, or small breasts. But, as someone in class pointed out, to make every recipient a victim isn’t very fair. Many people who have plastic surgery feel empowered afterward, they have a new sense of self as well as body autonomy. Their newfound confidence, although stemming from their looks, will hopefully seep into other areas of their life and make them a happier, healthier person. One would hope.
As someone who has considered plastic surgery themselves, this is what I struggle with. How much are we self-perpetuating the beauty ideal, and how much should everyone else just mind their own business? When Davis speaks of how plastic surgeons congratulate themselves on now offering tailored surgeries to ethnic patients as another way of making everyone more “equal,” I immediately think that is just too easy. They are letting themselves off the hook because instead of really finding out why someone of color would want a “whiter” look, they tell each other what great strides medical science has taken and look how happy our patient is with their new face. Are the majority of people who get plastic surgery letting themselves off the hook?
Like I said in class, I would never want to tell someone else what to do with their body, as long as it kept them healthy and happy. The plastic surgery issue is a lot more complicated than most people realize, and it’s something that I will definitely be giving more thought to in relation to feminism and self-identity.