The Seven Guilt Messages
Guilt can be stimulated by many factors. Why do we humans feel guilty about loving ourselves? Some of the answers can be plainly seen when we look at the cultural, religious, social, sexual and media influences on our lives. Here's a breakdown of messages that prompt us to feel guilty for altering our physical appearance:
Deciding to undergo cosmetic surgery is not an easy process. The odds can seem stacked against you when you consider all the elements described in this chapter. The average cosmetic surgery patient begins thinking about having surgery four years before making inquiries, and then has two to three consultations with different doctors before deciding. I think this makes good sense.
Look in the mirror and listen to your feelings. How much better would you feel if you could streamline your shape, grow new hair, enhance your brea
- We should accept what nature gave us.
Many of us were taught that we should accept ourselves just as nature made us. We were also taught, rightly so, that what's inside a person is more important than what's on the outside. In early childhood we learned clichés such as, "You can't judge a book by its cover," and "Beauty's only skin deep."
- Vanity is bad.
Some believe that vanity is a sin, which plays beautifully into the fear, "Will I be punished for my vanity by a disastrous result from the surgery?"
- "It's an extravagant use of money.
How can you spend thousands of dollars on cosmetic surgery when you really need a new roof on the house? What kind of person would spend that kind of money on himself when there are children starving?
- Cosmetic surgery is dishonest.
If we really believe that beauty's only skin deep, then we're dishonest if we surgically alter our appearance. Our new attractiveness will be false.
- Cosmetic surgery is not politically correct.
Are you buying the media myth about how you should look? Many female baby boomers believed in the "natural look" during the 1970s. They stopped wearing makeup, and many stopped shaving their legs and underarms. Now that they're in their 40s and 50s, are they compromising their ethics? Shouldn't we be proud of the age, experience and wisdom that shows in our faces?
- What will people think?
We want to be taken seriously by our peers. We want to be seen as deep, intelligent people. So how can we justify something as "shallow" as having our breasts enlarged? Public opinion seems to hold the view that cosmetic surgery is for insecure, desperate women, or people who are obsessively afraid of aging. Who wants to be one of "them"?
- The media monster.
The media constantly reminds us that cosmetic surgery is for the rich and famous, not for regular folks like us. We see it in the gossip pages. We see it in the advertising of cosmetic surgeons. In most of the hype, we see pictures of 23-year-old female fashion models with perfect bodies. We don't see ourselves in these images. We see people we can't relate to, so we're sold an idea that says, "Cosmetic surgery is for the young, beautiful, rich or famous." Seldom do the ads show middle-aged men and women, adolescents with disfigurements, or average looking people with obvious flaws. These ads make us feel guilty twice. The first pang of guilt is because we feel as if we've let ourselves get fat and bald and didn't work hard enough to maintain our youthful appearance. The second pang comes when we start thinking about having cosmetic surgery, and the whole cycle begins all over again with accepting what nature gave us.
Deciding to undergo cosmetic surgery is not an easy process. The odds can seem stacked against you when you consider all the elements described in this chapter. The average cosmetic surgery patient begins thinking about having surgery four years before making inquiries, and then has two to three consultations with different doctors before deciding. I think this makes good sense. Look in the mirror and listen to your feelings. How much better would you feel if you could streamline your shape, grow new hair, enhance your breasts or lose those facial jowls? Would it build your confidence? Would you function more effectively in the world if you could feel good about the way you look? And if so, how realistic are your expectations? Your doctor can help you answer this last question. If you're over 40, ask yourself, "Do I want to look like a young fashion model, or do I want to look the best I can for my age?" If you feel certain that cosmetic surgery will help you feel better, and if you're willing to take good care of yourself physically and emotionally once you've made the change, then congratulations! You've made a decision based on self-respect and wisdom.
A new body by itself can't guarantee career success, an improved social life or a more stable marriage. It won't solve your everyday problems. But it's one part of a process of growth and change that we engage in throughout our lives.
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