Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 275: Under Scrutiny, Under the Knife

According to astrologers, one of the worst traits of anyone born a Libra sign is vanity.

While I disagree that all Libras have an inflated opinion of themselves, when it comes to claims that, "Vanity may drive (Libras) to spend large amounts of money on items that will improve their looks," I would say that I'm guilty.

In 29 years I've managed to, at different times and to varying degrees, obsess about the insane color my hair, the not always clearness of my skin, and my too big, sometimes crooked smile. Paired with a lifetime love/hate/hate more relationship with my body, those obsessive fits have certainly cost me a lot of money over the years.

While some of my so-called, "problem areas," will probably always be just that, I have, for the most part, come to a place of acceptance about myself and the way I look. I don't know if that's getting older and maturing, but I'm pretty level-headed about what's important in life and it's not the size of my ass.

I'm still me, however, and if ever asked if I would have any work done to improve (not change) the way I look, my answer is always, "Yes, I'd consider it."

Day 275's thing I've never done before was to to see a plastic surgeon.

Now before you freak and cast me aside for being crazy, I didn't make this appointment so that I could spin the "Heidi Montag Wheel of Fun," and just pick something to have done for kicks. I wasn't looking to do anything drastic. I actually had a legit reason for seeing the doctor and it was a problem that had been bothering me for awhile.

About six months ago, I'd noticed that the hole where my ear had been pierced when I was 12, had significantly stretched out. I chalked it up to wearing heavy earrings and took a break from wearing anything in my ears, thinking that they'd go back to normal. They didn't. Once I realized I could actually see through the hole in my ear, and that the problem wouldn't fix itself, I started researching and came across a surgical procedure that would sew my earlobe back together.

So I made an appointment with a plastic surgeon that my friend Katy works for.

I arrived at the office, signed in, and took a seat in the waiting room. Across from me on a couch were two young children sitting calmly, each playing with a Gameboy. I suppose it's no different than any other doctor, but I found it odd that their mother had brought them a plastic surgeon's office. I wondered immediately if she was having her breasts done, after several of my friends with kids that they breast fed told me that their boobs were never the same. If so, did the mother resent her children for it? And then I wondered if my mother resented me for contributing to her not looking like she did when she was 25.

Who thinks these things? Crazy people.

I buried my face in my Blackberry for a while, but looked up as the little girl on the couch grew restless, throwing her Gameboy down and asking her older brother, "How much longer?" Despite her almost meltdown, I felt badly for thinking her mother resented her. She was a cute kid.

I looked up and saw other patients coming and going, to and from their appointments. I noticed that all of them, including myself, moved about the office somewhat sheepishly. Scurrying out the door to their cars with heads down, or quickly grabbing a seat and holding magazines up to block faces.

It was almost as if we were embarrassed to be there.

Sort of like how a holding cell at a jail might be.

Every time a different patient walked by me, I'd spent ten seconds trying to figure out what service she was probably seeking, and the other 30 seconds fighting the urge to grab her hand and ask, "So, what're you in for?"




If plastic surgery were a crime, I'd say earlobe repair is the equivalent of petty theft or underage drinking. But this office clearly dealt with armed robbery and capital murder too, and I recognized that in a waiting room full of what seemed to be hardened criminals, I was a mere guppy.

I really wanted to meet someone who was going to serve some serious time. Like a full body lift or a significant boob job.

No one spoke to each other, though, and soon Katy had come to take me back to have my picture taken.

Though having pictures of the area I was seeking improvement on makes complete sense, I was surprised when she pointed at a stool pushed up against the wall and told me have a seat. Katy made me push all my hair out of my face, instructed me not to smile before she snapped pictures up close and far away, head-on and profile shots. Even though I knew no one would ever see these pictures, I was disappointed I hadn't freshened up my make-up.

After my photo shoot was over, Katy took me into the examining room, which was nothing more than a room with a few chairs, a window to the outside and an enormous mirror on the wall, presumably for patients to stare at and decide what exactly they were unhappy about.

When the doctor arrived, I showed him my right earlobe and explained what I was concerned about and asked him what he could do.

He said the procedure is simple, and would involve him cutting the hole open before sewing it back. After six weeks, I would return and he could, if I desired, re-pierce my ears. Even though only one of my ears is stretched out, I'd probably want to have the procedure done on both so that they'd be re-pierced in the same place.

His explanation made sense, but also sounded like a quick way to get me to pay for a second ear when I only needed one.

"Is that all you wanted to talk to me about today?," he asked me.

I was there, he asked, so I decided to go for it. I told him what I was about to turn 30 and wanted to know what, if anything, he would recommend to help me look as good as I possibly could.

He handed me a mirror and asked me to show him what bothered me about my face.

When he held up the mirror to my face I looked terrible. Old. I started seeing things that I don't normally see when I look in my own mirror. I looked up at the ceiling at the lights and wondered if they were special trick lights that made me look this hideous? Or do I just really look that hideous?

"I guess right here," I said as I pointed to in between my eyes. "My mother says I sleep with a concerned look on my face and I have wrinkles from it."

"And my forehead."

"And around my mouth. From smiling."

He said I should probably start now with a few injections around my eyes and in between my eyebrows. My crow's feet are alright for now, but maybe a couple of injections around my mouth where the smile lines have formed.

"Now would that make me look surprised all of the time? Because I don't want that. I'm an expressive person. I'd like for people to be able to tell when I'm happy or when I'm sad."

He assured me that these would only tighten the muscles in my face, not make them completely devoid of expression.

The doctor pointed at Katy, who is gorgeous.

"See Katy's face," he said. "It's very expressive, but her skin is very taut, very supple."

"I've been getting Botox since I started working here 10 years ago," she laughed.

Katy does look great. Her skin glows. She looks like the happiest, healthiest version of herself. But is that the Botox? Or is that because of her happy marriage, her beautiful son, and a plethora of good friends? Maybe it's her life that's making her glow. Maybe it's a little of both.

I considered asking, just out of curiosity, if my dream of sucking fat out of areas of my body I think are too big and injecting them into parts of my body I think are too small would actually work, but I don't think my ego could've taken it, so after our conversation about Restalyne and Botox, I shut the conversation down.

Despite the doctor's willingness to do the procedures at a significant "friend" discount, I am not in a financial situation to fix my ears right away. I would like to eventually have it done, though, because I miss wearing earrings.

When I drove away, I couldn't stop staring at myself in the rear-view window, praying, and hoping that all of the imperfections that had just become so apparent to me in the doctor's office weren't as obvious to everyone else.

I found it sad that I looked in the mirror and instead of seeing the face of a vibrant, almost 30-year old person still young at heart, I saw a face that time was starting to march all over. And I considered that my childhood insecurities about being a pimply faced redhead never really went away, they've merely evolved into different insecurities. I wondered if there is a way to stay grounded in the things that really matter while living in a world that is constantly telling me, telling all of us, that the only way we'll ever be pretty enough or thin enough is if a doctor makes us that way.

I'm not here to dump on plastic surgery, and come Project 49 to 50, perhaps I'll really go under the knife as something I've never done before. Like I said, I'm all about maintenance as long as I still look like myself. Just the healthiest, happiest version of myself.

But for now, I think I'm going to sideline the injections and concentrate on feeding my soul and beautifying myself from the inside out. There are no needles involved, and it's a hell of a lot cheaper.


  1. I live in SoCal and plastic surgery is a right of passage... Like Apple says, "There's an app for that..."

  2. worried about lines on your face? this from a girl who hula-hoops in wal-mart aisles? be proud of those smile lines!!! keep smiling and laughing so that they deepen!!! you are BEAUTIFUL!!!! :)

  3. A knife is intended to be just for the hardest of the difficult undertakings, and will get beat up. It doesn't need the dangerously sharp edge-keeping up with capacities of costly German or Japanese steel wow meat cleaver, so there's no sense in addressing over-the-chances costs for one when less expensive models are comparably functional.