The other day I was sat in a hospital waiting room, where I spent the best part of an hour flicking through a number of highly superficial (and rather boring) magazines laid out on the table next to me. After far too many dull articles about some celebrity or other that I have minimal interest in, I found myself looking at the advertising placed throughout the magazine. There was an incredible amount of advertising about plastic surgery. It got me thinking about the parts of my appearance I’m not all that fond of and it made me question… could I ever go under the knife?
There are a number of things about my appearance that I’ve grown to be self conscious about. Over the years other’s comments about my bobbly nose, high forehead and ‘post-natal’ body have somehow become my own internal messaging. That is how it came to be that after spending an afternoon flicking through magazines selling plastic surgery, I found myself googling plastic surgeons at 11pm that evening. I scrolled through the costings and the consultation fees. I googled the complications and risks for each surgery and then I thought about life after surgery.
I thought about my slightly large forehead and then looked up at my graduation photo hanging on the wall. I noticed that my forehead shape is actually very similar to my dad’s. I thought about the bobbly bits at the end of my nose and looked up at the photo of my boys, both of them with the same bobbly bits at the end of their noses. I thought about the tummy tuck I had googled the night before and realised that to cut away at my skin, would take away my prized stretch marks. The marks I love. The marks that remind me of all the babies I have carried, the ones I have been able to hold and the ones I have not.
The more I thought about my physical appearance, the more I considered the magnitude of its beauty. Not in the ascetically pleasing way we envision beauty, but in the beauty of connection and heritage. It was this train of thought that lead me to sitting in front of my mirror and looking at my face in a way I never have before. I took in my high cheekbones, a trait inherited from my mother and grandmother. A trait I share with my sisters and have passed on to my children. I took in my high forehead, the same one inherited from my father and the very one my grandmother told me was ‘a sign of highest beauty in Victorian times’. I took in my bobbly nose, that is somewhat of a rouge gene, but one I share with my children. These parts of my appearance are not just my aesthetic. They are much, much more special than anything skin deep.
My stretched and marked stomach, laced with scars are the physical mark of all of my children. The ones I hold in my arms and the ones I do not. My bobbly nose, my high forehead and my cheekbones are more that my aesthetic, they are my connection to my tribe and heritage. Going under the knife would do more than alter my appearance, it would sever the connection to my memories and my tribe, which ultimately is a price I am unwilling to pay.