I have been sitting on a fence lately. It’s a nice fence, because I’ve come to the realization that while it straps us to afford it, we have the luxury of being able afford my whining about sitting there, debating about telling the world about it. Cryptic, huh? I know.
It’s like getting on Facebook and asking everyone to keep me in their thoughts and prayers, but then never saying anything else about it. Or worse, it’s like following it up by saying something like, “if you know me, you know what this is about.” Super annoying. Mystery only begets insane theories involving you, the mailman, an incurable disease, perhaps a black-market organ donation scheme, a potentially lethal arrangement with a drug cartel; and obviously, a sex ring involving all your neighbors.
Rest assured, none of the above are true about my fence-sitting decision to talk or tell. My thing is much more mundane.
I am getting plastic surgery.
There it is.
In black and white.
For the world to see.
It’s easy for people to say, in generalities, about the concept, that, if there’s something about oneself that they truly hate, and if they can afford it, that they should just go ahead and fix it. It’s also perfectly fine to say, that on concept, it’s not something you’d judge someone for. But, when you take the plunge and decide to do it for real, the concept of how truly vain it is, is no longer intellectual curiosity or conversation. It’s a reality, and you feel, instead of proud of taking care of something that has brought you misery your entire life, a great sense of shame. It’s a conundrum.
So, let’s talk about it a little. Mostly, let’s talk about the whole thing. It’s been an overwhelming process. It’s been more than I bargained for. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into!
How should I Look?
Firstly, what do I wear to my consultation(s)? How much effort do I put into my hair and makeup? It’s no secret that people who go into cosmetic surgery for vanity’s sake, not for, say, fixing cleft palates in third world countries, are likely interested in “look.” What if I show up in the “wrong” thing? Will they judge me? Ugh. It’s a lot of pressure! It’s like the first day at Mean Girls High, only I’m Josie Grossie. And, everyone knows you can’t mix universes. It’s like Wonder Woman showing up at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Wolverine would be like, “what’cha doin’ here girl?” And, WW would be all, “did you just call me ‘girl?” Then, she’d kick his adamandium ass.
What if They Think I Need More “Work?”
What if I show up and tell them that I hate my nose; and, they are like, “no kidding,” but secretly are assessing the rest of me, and wondering why I’m not also asking to get my eyes/boobs/ass/legs/and entire face done? They are the “experts,” after all. However, it’s no secret that they get hooked on their own supply.
For example, my doctor is awesome, but I had to stifle a gasp, and an urge to shout, “ACK! Monster!” when she walked in. She’s amazing, think, “doctor that hugs,” but she also looks like post-Friends Courtney Cox, only even more botched surgeries. She was…terrifying, when I first met her.
One might wonder if you could trust a doctor who has such a clearly skewed version of beauty to handle your image. And one would be right. But, they all look like that! Trust me. You are stuck relying on testimonials, reviews, your gut, and how the surgeon made you feel when they explained things. No wonder so many people shy away, once they start the process.
Dude. This is not cheap. Like, at all. I went into my consultation, that I had to pay for, of course, with an astronomical number in mind, so I’d be prepared for that little room, they shuffle you off into, to talk numbers. In some ways, it’s like buying a car, what with that little room. It was twice the number I had in mind. TWICE! Of course, they do financing, but it feels weird to have committed to paying for my vanity for the next two years. A few hundred dollars a month to not hate myself when I look in the mirror.
I have the luxury of saying that I have been given a rough shake; so, maybe I “deserve” something special, and something that I really, really want. But, that excuse only holds water for so long, especially when it takes money away from my family. I’ve managed to rationalize purchasing myself several things that way, whenever I feel especially low after a bad pain flair. My Anthropolgie cart gets a workout, or I bargain shop for stuff, claiming I saved us money by buying things at rock bottom prices through eBay or resale shops. But, I’d save a lot more by not shopping at all!
Rachel: Bryon, I saved $200 on these boots!
Bryon: How much were they originally?
Rachel: That’s not important.
Rachel: (in tiny voice): $600. BUT! These have NEVER been marked down! You don’t understand! How could I pass them up!? I’d have been insane!
Bryon: I understand perfectly.
And, he does, actually. I argue that I put up with his faults too. He never wipes the stove properly; and, he leaves the counter by the sink sopping wet when he does the dishes. Insufferable, if you ask me. Truly.
Is it worth it? I guess I’ll have to let you know.
I sneaked a peak at the doctor’s notes about me at my pre-op, and aside from the technical terms about my procedure, which are not flattering. Trust me, when your body part’s flaws are broken down into the most technical of terms, there’s nothing complimentary about any of it. Think about rhinoplasty, for example. If you are getting, say, a nose-job, “Excess cartilage: rhinoplasty” sounds grotesque; but, even in non-technical terms: “massive honker shave-down” is, still, less than flattering. “Shrink the Streisand,” maybe?
Then, I got to thinking a bit more, and it occurred to me that it is only (most) men that don’t have at least a smidge of body dysmorphia. Bryon can look in the mirror, and truly not see a thing that he hates about himself. He’s losing his hair, has gained weight since we’ve been married, and doesn’t own a single anti-aging facial product. In fact, he only puts body lotion, or any lotion, on when his skin is so cracked it’s about to bleed. He’s cool with whatever version of himself greets him in the mirror every day. He’s your standard American middle-aged, married male.
Can you imagine how lovely and carefree this existence would be? It would definitely be cheaper, I realize, as I very seriously priced La Mer today.
Meanwhile, (almost all) women, if asked honestly, will tell you at least five things that they’d change about their appearance. And, if being brutally honest, they’d tell you how much time they’ve spent in the mirror examining which angles hide those imperfections, which Spanx work the best, which makeup tricks work the best; and maybe, imagining what lifts, tucks and snips would give them what nature didn’t.
There are the few men who hate themselves as much as we do, or at least hate parts of themselves. These men are the ones you see at the gym, who are miraculously hairless, and who gaze in the mirror in the weight area a little too long. These are the men who have as many “products,” as you do, and who understand your unwillingness to miss a workout, because they won’t miss one either. Bryon doesn’t understand this logic. He is always saying things like, “you are already thin, it’s okay not to run today.” Silly Bryon.
I digress. As always.
Also, can you tell I love Scrubs? And, I can come up with a scene or quote for basically any situation? I had a few perfect ones that I couldn't find a video or a Gif for; and believe me, I looked. Jordan, in my view, the best character on the show, tells Perry she's going to have her doc "fire up the fat vac," when she finds out she's going to be wearing a bikini;" and, she also thanks her doctor for "these," as she points to her breasts. She's fantastic. No shame in her game. Alas, no glory in finding those clips.
Anyhow! I noticed that one of my notes said: “borderline body dysmorphic female. Risks and benefits were clearly discussed w/PT.” At first, it caught me off guard, but then it occurred to me: yep. That’s about right.
I know we all look in the mirror and hate our nose, eyes, forehead, legs, butt, feet and fingernails. But, I truly HATE certain body parts. Like, I HATE with a passion that burns hotter than the sun. Tears have been shed, including tears in this doctor’s office, which is probably where she got that diagnostic note. I think I was a little overwhelmed with the potential of a magic wand solution, and the ability to finally let that hate out, to a doctor that has it.
Which brings me to what I hope to accomplish from this surgery. A good surgeon will caution you about what can and cannot be accomplished with plastic surgery. Apparently, the ones who promise that they can fix “anything,” are the bad ones. In my wildest fantasies about life, I can have skinny thighs, a better chin and nose, and bigger boobs, and I also have a massive house that looks at the ocean, we have horses, a carousel, some monkeys…wait, that’s Neverland Ranch. Scratch the last bit.
The idea of the goals of surgery are important, nonetheless. As I was so woefully lectured, I will never be a supermodel. In fact, those were the exact words my doctor said, except she added, “you’ll never be Cindy Crawford,” which I felt was a little bit of salt in the wound and perhaps unnecessary. I get that ship has sailed on my life, thanks. In no way, do I hope to attain beauty that rivals one of the most perfect genetic specimens in the world. Thanks.
So, what do I hope to accomplish. Apparently, I’m supposed to be aware of tempered expectations, before I go to my consultation, and definitely before I go under the knife, fat vac, heat laser, or whatever tool they choose to use on my secret procedure. Maybe, I’ll tell you what I am having done at a later date. Or, I will let you keep guessing. Every time you see me, you can assess me, and think, “finally, she got that chin taken care of,” then, “nope that hideous nose is a bit smaller,” or, “phew, she looks thinner!” You may never figure it out.
Could be a ton of Botox?
Could be the Fat Vac?
Suffice it to say, it’s very subtle, and it’s just for me. You’d think the subtlety and minuscule nature would affect the price, but it does not. Like, I feel like if I want only a millimeter shaved off my nose, or an ounce of fat removed, or something like that, the price should be commiserate with services rendered. This is not, however, how the pricing scale works.
How do I Ask the Right Questions?
When you have brain surgery, the list of questions for your surgeon are automatic, mostly because you know that if they mess up, you’ll die, become paralyzed, or become a drooling buffoon. You can automatically come up with dozens, then dozens more that you should’ve asked on the way home. The only question you can think of, while you are in the plastic surgeon’s office, even if you write something down ahead of time, is “what are the risks of me looking like a freak?”
Obviously, my recovery, pain control, infection risks, and financing questions have been clearly explained. In fact, they were so informative, that I barely had room to come up with a reasonable question, to be honest. The only question I’d come up with, that I’d written down was about a money back guarantee, which felt stupid, and made me feel like a Wal-Mart shopper who’d won the lottery and wandered into Cartier for the first time, Nascar t-shirt and all, ready to make their first real purchase. Still, it felt like a reasonable question. You know, like what if it’s really, really messed up? Do they stand behind their work and fix it? They do.
Well, the bottom line is that in about two weeks, I’m going to be a true LA gal, because I’m having plastic surgery. It’s official, I’m a Californian.
Also, I can't let this post go by without the mention that my precious baby child went with me to my pre-op appointment (not the initial appointment(s). But, he was bewildered at what "those" were. When I explained that they were breasts, he was sufficiently grossed out. He was even more grossed out when I told him he could touch them.
His assessment is that the second breast from the top felt, "weird." The funny thing was that the office assistant, when she brought us to the "pay room," where the huge implants are stacked, said that kids LOVE touching and playing with those. Apparently, my son's curiosity is not alone.