The Story That Inspired My Thoughts
I recently read a blog entry from a woman sharing her own breast cancer survival story which included her friends’ responses to her journey to recovery. Although super supportive throughout her mastectomy surgery, chemotherapy and other treatments, one friend had a surprising response to her plans for plastic surgery/ breast reconstruction. This particular friend told her not to have plastic surgery because it was frivolous. The friend asked her why she couldn’t just be happy the cancer was out.
The author and breast cancer survivor simply smiled and said that of course, she was happy to be cancer free. What she didn’t feel safe telling this friend was that she also wanted to feel more like herself again, more complete. She wanted to wear a normal bra again, wanted not to worry about her “falsie” popping out of the empty cup of her swimsuit this summer, and she wanted to feel more confident being intimate with her husband, among many other reasons. What the author’s friend labeled as a frivolous want was profoundly important to her!
Plastic Surgery – Personal Choice or Frivolous Want?
Although not intentional, the friend in the story had conveyed a sense of disapproval and judgment which made the author instantly feel unsupported and almost ashamed. I personally don’t know the rest of the friendship part to the story, but I’m willing to guess the author didn’t feel comfortable sharing anything more about her plastic surgery plans or expectations. I found this part of the story tragically sad. During a time of physical and emotional healing, a woman in need didn’t feel the support of her friend.
My Own Thoughts on Plastic Surgery
The breast cancer survivor’s personal story really got me thinking….. What is it about the words “plastic surgery” that makes people, especially women, feel comfortable in judging other’s choices? Why can we share our plans for a new haircut, plans to lose weight or buy a new dress to feel better about ourselves, but when we mention plastic surgery or cosmetic procedures, we can expect instant judgment? Also, are certain procedures deemed appropriate (surgery after cancer), but others (like a tummy tuck after weight loss) deemed frivolous?
Another Avenue of Mom Shaming?
I would like to think as a society, we have moved past the quick judgments, but I’m reminded nearly every day that sadly we have not. Women, and especially moms, are judged on everything these days from how we dress appropriately for our age, to what snacks we send with our school-age kids, to whether we choose to breastfeed or formula feed (some major bullying with that one). I wonder, is plastic surgery/cosmetic procedures yet another avenue to shame moms who make that choice?
In the day and age of woman empowerment, why do we still allow others to dictate what we do and think about our own bodies? We have come so far as women, proclaiming ourselves as powerful and beautiful. We are proud of our bodies, no matter our size, our scars, or lumps and bumps. We should not give into society’s unreasonable expectations of us, but what about those of us not trying to live up to society’s standards? What if I just want to feel cute in a swimsuit this summer – Am I morally inferior because I wish my tummy was flat again like it was before having 3 babies? Although I appreciate the strength and beauty of my own body, maybe I don’t need the “mommy pouch” as a reminder every day. If a mom feels insecure about her crooked nose or another is tired of looking tired and is curious about Botox, is it ok for them to seek help from a plastic surgeon? Are there black and white answers to these questions and who decides such things anyway? The obvious answer is that all women should be able to decide for themselves. As long as their decision is well-informed with reasonable expectations, who are we as a society of women to judge?
Be the Supportive Friend
I say we keep working on creating a community of acceptance of other moms’ choices, whether it be parenting styles or personal appearance choices. We all deserve to be happy and we all should feel the support of others around us as we make informed decisions. Let’s all try to be less judgmental. Let’s all strive to be the supportive friend.
*** Breast reconstruction after a partial/full mastectomy is an important part of a breast cancer treatment plan and the healing process. Major medical insurance companies must by law cover the cost of breast reconstructive surgery ***
If you or someone you know is thinking of plastic surgery or cosmetic procedures, please contact
Dr. Patrick Cole
for a confidential free cosmetic consultation. To learn more about Dr. Cole click here
Dr. Patrick Cole
Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon
Orthopedic Hand Surgeon
Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona
928-774-2300 ask for an appt with Dr. Cole
Meet the Guest Writer
Allie Cole and her family moved from Texas to Flagstaff in the summer of 2015. Previously working as a NICU nurse and lactation counselor, Allie provided an interesting combination of high-tech and natural nursing care to infants and children. Now here in Flagstaff, she is a nurse helping local special needs children in their homes. Allie’s been married to her college sweetheart Patrick, a surgeon, over 17 years and they have 3 small children.