I thought my knowledge about plastic surgery had deepened over time, not only through my own experiences but also through speaking to others – and my general impression was that as a society we were becoming more and more accepting of it.
So I was shocked to hear about a recent episode on BKchat LDN entitled He Won’t Wife Me Because I’ve Had Surgery
Most of the males involved in the discussion said that while they would happily date a woman who had been cosmetically enhanced, they would not marry them. Why? Were they just willing to date them because they wanted to explore something unknown to them? I don’t think sexual inquisitiveness on its own is enough of a reason to go out with someone. Lots of the men said that they might consider marrying the woman, but only if her procedures had been carried out before they had met and as long as she didn’t look too ‘fake’.
My issue here is: what happened to love? It’s as if it is it possible for a man to force himself not to fall in love with a person, simply because they have had surgery. But what if he didn’t know? And anyway, shouldn’t a person love you regardless of what you have had done to your body? I know it’s not the same as changing your hair colour, but I find it difficult to accept that a man might not marry me because I’ve undergone a procedure that makes me feel good about myself. I would want any potential partner of mine to support any decision that I make, and not to judge me for it. A woman should be able to do whatever makes her feel good without being scared of what their partner thinks of them.
These male arguments suggest that if a woman wants a better physique, then there’s only one thing they are allowed to do, which is to go to the gym. Maybe they think that if she works hard at the gym she will work hard at the relationship too. But that’s not necessarily true. In fact I personally might spend more time on my body than on the relationship! I, like most women, spend a lot of time in front of the mirror feeling self conscious about how I appear. So if making myself feel good about myself takes up a lot of time then so be it, I need to take care of who matters most – and that’s me.
A person who has had surgery deserves the same amount of love, and has the same ability to form a normal relationship, as anybody else. As a woman, your body goes through many changes, and just because you decide to do something about it does not make you less of a person, so you should not be treated any differently. I’ve had had cosmetic surgery and I am not ashamed of it, and like every cosmetic surgery patient I was assessed by a psychiatric doctor before the procedure, so I know I’m not mad. The pressure I feel is not my fault. As a young black woman I feel pressure from the society that I live in to conform to a certain way of looking. So society may be mad – but not me.
The BKchat LDN video discussion has received a lot of media attention and been shared all over social media, which shows that an issue that I would previously have just discussed with my friends is becoming a mainstream issue for young people. This may have something to do with the contradiction between the increasing amount of women who are having surgery and the amount who are willing to own up to it.
This being willing to own up is an important issue. For example, if women think men won’t marry them if they’ve had surgery then maybe they will pretend they got their body through working hard down at the gym. But then that might give other women the false impression that there is something wrong with them because when they go to the gym they don’t end up looking as good. So those women might be forced to have surgery just to keep up, but keep quiet about it – and so on.
My friend Anita put it well:
“I think people should have the freedom to do what they want to do. We all have choice. I don’t believe it’s right that guys should be able to ramble on that [cosmetic surgery] is something that needs to be controlled or looked down on, because it’s the girls who have had the surgery that they drool over, and so it’s also the girls who have had surgery that their ‘fiancés’ aspire to be like!”