Thursday, October 4, 2007

More double standards disguised as feminism.

I was made aware of this article about "Mommy Makeovers" from someone who, I am assuming, thought that I would be 100% outraged at the woman-hating idea of it all.

This is a new trend in plastic surgery where they do your boobs and belly, and sometimes more, and sell it as a package deal, with some corny little name like a MomJob. The aformentioned article presents a good argument at how messed up this is, and how hateful to women it is that we mothers are being made to feel like we are damaged goods after we so gloriously gave life to the next generation, and how sick of a society we live in to not honor our post-partum bodies, etc. It proposes a fearsome day when hardly anyone will know what a postpartum body looks like, and how abnormal is gonna be the new normal. Yeah, yeah, I nodded along in agreement. my own secret hypocritical ironic whatever you wanna call it mind, I didn't really feel all THAT shocked or disturbed by what I read. You see, I have been wanting to write about plastic surgery/cosmetic surgery for some time now. But I knew it could be a very polarizing topic, and I worried that probably nothing positive would come of me discussing it, so I waited. But here is the perfect time for me to come clean, and if you want to think I hate mothers or women's bodies or myself, then who gives a flying crap? Those who know me and the track record that I have and the way I conduct myself will know the real deal. Those who have a low ability to put themselves in others' shoes will also have a hard time connecting to my opinions and experiences, and hey, that's not my problem. So here goes.

Given that I basically agree that this world is an effed up place and that women have been sufferin from a bad case of The Hate since the beginning of time, let me be the first to say that I think that ALL women are super, super beautiful. Huge women, lumpy bumpy roly poly women, old women, saggy women, I just do not think that it is for me to therefore deduce that they are all necessarily comfortable. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but comfort and happiness, well, those things are purely subjective. Are they beautiful? Are they comfortable? In their clothing. In their activities. In their daily lives.

(Now, I'm not talking about any kind of neo-psycho-babble "comfortable". as in "comfortable in her own skin"--no--I am talking about actual day-to-day comfort. )

I am talking about myself and many other women--people--mothers who, in this modern era, have the option to alter their body through surgery to improve their quality of living. Whatever that means to them. No matter if you think it is silly, shallow, or hate-based, unnecessary, media-fueled or just plain sick, I would like to point out something that this article, in my opinion, misses:

We are so ready to be open and accepting and "p.c." when someone wants to have cosmetic surgery in some cases, aren't we? The poor kid with the "crooked" nose...the poor guy with the big birthmark...what about sex changes? Advanced dental work?....these things are commonplace now, even among the not-wealthy, and for the most part, we all feel like good for them, or you go girl or whatnot.

But then we hear about Mommy-Makeovers and oooh that's so horrible! We think of clever things to say about stretch marks are badges of courage, and we all bust out our Willendorf statuettes. We say things about how sick the whole world is and how in a matriarchy, boobs down to our laps would be the hottest thing going, and how revering a teenage or even pre-pubescent form is just hateful pedophilia and detestment for the amazing life giving force that is motherhood--am i right? am I wrong?. But you know what? Does anyone smell a little pile of bullshit over in the corner? 'cuz I sure do--and its called unfair, unjust martyrdom and inequality for mothers.

We "Accept" every Tom, Dick, and Harry in Hollywood who botoxes their face into oblivion, we put up with hair extensions and orange spray tans and fake noses/chins/eylids day in and day out without so much as a comment anymore. But if a woman doesn't want a numb SACK of discolored skin hanging over 1/2 of her crotch, we take issue with that? If someone doesn't enjoy living with the discomfort and often sorrowful daily reminder of her c-section(s) being chafed and irritated and squashed into her underwear and outerwear day and night, she is shallow or vein or a product of a sick culture? And heaven forbid she want to feel active or sexual--we don't even want to talk about that, right? and what of breasts? sure, its easy to scoff at the assumed desire for tiny, upturned, high-on-the collarbone breasts, but what about so many women who suffer through pinched nerves, burning shoulder pain, spending hundreds of dollars on bras and skin creams for their gouged in shoulder-grooves from the straps digging in, from rashes and sores around their ribcage from elastic digging into their flesh--are they jerkos, too?

Think of how many innovations we have in these modern times. We have eyeglasses for those who might have been cast aside as useless to society only a few hundred years ago. We have back braces for those suffering from curvatures of the spine, and we have braces for maligned teeth. These things help the person cosmetically, for sure, as well as having health benefits most of the time. And surgeries-I could list life saving and life changing surgeries for paragraph after paragraph, but I think you can fill in the blanks.

Dear reader, what this is, is just more double standards. But not in the way that the stance of the article took. This is about mothers being excluded on the grounds of high morals from something that lots of other people are getting done without any fuss.

Yes, lots of the women say things like "I just want my body back the way it was before I had a baby", and yes, it is easy to think "Its not supposed to look like it did before you had a baby, idiot!" But just remember this: for every woman who might have what you think are the "Wrong reasons" for wanting cosmetic surgery, there might be many women who have some other reasons, and its none of your damn business. Moms didn't invent cosmetic surgery, and I don't see why they have to be excluded from it. Its just more of the same old "You went and gotcherself pregnant, now pay the price".

I think it might be sort of obvious by now that I have considered cosmetic surgery. By considered I mean dreamt that a gift certificate would float into my stocking--I don't have the money for that and I wouldn't do it until I was much older, if ever. But I hate what cesareans have done to my body, especially the second surgery. I also miss the days of bra shopping in the regular stores, and feeling more mobile and active when my chest was proportioned to the rest of my body. I went from a C-cup to whatever size is 2 cups up from triple D--some call it G or H, it depends on the brand, in about 6 weeks of my first pregnancy at age 21. I was so flabbergasted that I thought I had cancer or something--so painful and astonishing was the rate of growth that I could barely stand to walk or move, and even though that was 10 years ago, I still do not feel like these things can possibly be my own. So am I shallow, vein, or lusting after something inappropriate? Says who? When I have to listen to how magical the natural changes of motherhood are, does that change anything for me, for my daily experiences? Does that sentiment rub my neck out each night for a half hour, or take care of my kids when I cant turn my shoulders?

Cosmetic surgery has already been invented, people!!! Its already out there. So whether you want to get some or not, I just do not see why one group of people (mothers) has to get judged for looking into it--the very group of people whose bodies have possibly undergone some major stuff, and who probably have to do more running and working and lifting and hustling than any other group of people alive--why they have to be made to feel like they are failing at looking "real" or "natural" when in reality, there is hardly anything real or natural left in this world---yourself included--looking at a digitized box of back-lit letters typed by someone you will never even meet, sitting in a plastic chair, in a man-made building of some sort, under artificial lighting, dressed in synthetics, sipping your NutraSweet soda pop out of a Styrofoam cup. If you condemn a mother for her free right to research or even seek out or obtain cosmetic surgery, then you're judging someone who did do something very natural and real--they carried and birthed a baby. Or four ;)

Nobody should ever be made to feel as if they need surgery to be acceptable, attractive, or beautiful--mothers or anyone else. But I also feel that if someone wants to do something to alter their own bodies, whether it be piercings, tattoos, bleaching, coloring, lifting, nipping or tucking or anything else for that matter, who are we to judge?


Kelley said...

Wow! Joy, your writing is amazing. I, too, have loosely considered plastic surgery, though I cannot even begin to think about spending money on that right now. Besides, I don't really have a good reason, except that since I started birthing and nursing babies, my chest has shrunk down to nothin'. I lay on my back, and "the girls" disappear. I buy the padded, push-up bras so that my clothes will fit properly, but really they don't do the job very well and just make me feel like I'm falsely advertising, for my husband at least. I'm not unhappy with my appearance; I'm just rueful about the loss of my chest that came as a result of motherhood. Sometimes I wish we could share the wealth. One person could get more of what she wanted without having to resort to silicon or something, and someone else could get rid of what they want less of. Oh well.

Kelley said...

Besides, (in response to what you said in your post) I certainly hope I do get to meet you someday. I think that would be fantastic. :)

Housefairy said...

Oh, Kelley, I adore the idea of communal fat sharing! I worried so much about posting this, so thank you thank you thank you.

I also welcome anyone (and actually hope I do get some) who think I am horrible, off base or downright wrong on this.

Andrea said...

Wow, you totally changed my opinion on this. It's weird -- I never really judge women/mothers for fixing something that's broken, but when I hear so many women talking about it like it's easy, women who look just fine to me in their clothes, I always wish they could just be happy with their bodies. Most of this thinking, too, was before I had a baby.

You kind of clonked me upside the head -- yeah, there's a lot going on under clothes that I can't see, stuff that could really cramp one's style.

Also, I never thought about the double standard of it all.

I still don't think I'd ever have plastic surgery to fix things from motherhood, at least not the way my body seems to be handling changes so far. I'm not perfect, but I'm pretty comfortable with my imperfections. Also, I just really hate doctors, anesthesia, the idea of surgery and all that it entails. I can't see myself volunteering for such a thing.

But, like I said, you definitely opened my mind on it. To each her own.

Housefairy said...

You what's cool, Andrea? That I didn't even envision changing anyones mind.

Its so funny because its not like I am all YAY SURGERY--I just really was so struck by the idea that this was all of a sudden being judged, when it is so, so prevalent--has been for years, you know?

after I had my first baby, yes my body was changed. It was fuller, softer, but I was totally happy about it. I was full of all of those feelings "they" wanted me to be: what a miracle it was that I nurtured another human, that I sustained her solely from my milk, etc. I was proud to have a few stretch marks, and the outrageous boobs did calm down somewhat as the baby got older.

With number 2 came new stretch marks, and a c section scar. The contour of my body never was the same, (I liken it to a string being tied around a twinkie) but it was still really a small indentation where the surgical line was.

I had another baby, and sustained some new stretch marks right up the front of my stomach, but nothing else.

And then, with baby number 4, I had another c-section, and I was absolutley horrified at how I looked postpartum. I had a huge, deep indentation where they cut and sewed me, and I hoped it would "go back soon" and it never did. A flap, a blob, I feel and look like I lost 500 pounds and then someone sewed my lower abdomen to my back and pulled the strings too tight. It sucks. I just can't get into it being all motherly and natural about the daily reminder that some butcher did this to me.

Sgt Howie said...

I haven't had a baby so I can't pretend to understand what it's like to see your body go through those changes. But I have had a seventy pound weight loss, so I know what it's like to look at my droopy gut and stretchmarks in the mirror and wish for a magical quick fix to make it all go away. And I have often wondered if I'd go through with the abdominoplasty should I ever find myself able to afford it.

I think the Jezebel article did a good job of looking at the issue from both sides. For me the salient point was that there's a lot misogyny that underlies the marketing of the MomJob, just like those quacks selling "laser vaginal rejuvenations", labiaplasties and "g-spot amplifications". It's (mostly) men urging women to feel their bodies are inadequate so they can sell them something expensive, dangerous, and in some cases, of no proven benefit. And it's so prevalent that even the medical establishment, which has a financial interest in keeping quiet about it, is raising the alarm(

After working in health care for eleven years, I view cosmetic surgery with the same trepidation as I view most medical interventions around childbirth. It's risky and usually unnecessary, and while people can come through them okay, many don't. One of my patients had reacted to the anesthesia and arrested on the operating table during an eye lift. He was was brain-dead and on life support. I cared for one lady whose chest was a horrific mass of scars after a botched boob job and a couple of botched "repairs". I was sent in to catheterize one patient, a male-to-female transsexual, and couldn't do it because... well let's just say nothing down there was where it's supposed to be. Her surgery was done by someone she found out afterwards had never done a sex change operation before.

For some people the benefits of plastic surgery outweigh the risks. I don't think there are right or wrong reasons to have it, just informed and uninformed decisions. Most people don't know that any bozo with a medical degree can do plastic surgery. There's no certification requirement and the standard for training is "Watch one, do one, teach one." Even if you go to an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon, scary things can and do happen all the time. I think I will suck it up and live with my saggy skin.

Sgt Howie said...

The article I mentioned is at

Rixa said...

I hadn't thought about the comfort issue before, except I guess I knew of one or two people who'd had breast reductions because they had chronic back problems from all of the weight. Plus, as you illustrated with how your own stomach changed after your surgeries, it's one thing to have the normal stretch marks and squishy belly from pregnancy. But a cesarean scar does change how you look. So to fix that wouldn't be saying "nature" is too ugly--it would be correcting something that is unnatural in the first place.

I still don't like the idea of plastic surgery for appearance, but of course there's a lot of gray area in there. I, like millions of American teens, had braces when I was in middle school. Now it's not surgery and in my case it was supposedly to correct something with my bite (because my teeth looked fine)...but a lot of orthodontia is purely cosmetic. I even wonder how necessary my own braces were.

I guess I feel really conflicted about this. I really don't like that most of the cosmetic surgery industry is trying to sell an idealized version of what humans should look like. Especially the idea that you can be "empowered" or finally "feel like yourself" or be "happy." There's a lot of money to be made on plastic surgery, and marketing it as happiness makes me kind of queasy.

Housefairy said...

There are really two issues here that are getting mixed about:

1) Is cosmetic surgery something you are "for" or "against" and why.

2)Is wanting cosmetic surgery to alter the body changes that came as a result of childbearing a "worse" reason than other reasons and how could it be?

SgtHowie, I appreciate your medical first-hand experince more than you know. I, too, lost 60+ pounds--four times in 8 years. When it really came down to reading these stories that you have shared, it snapped me out of my theory-slingin' mode and back into realistic mode of being a very cautious and safety concerned person who despises surgery. I agree wholeheartedly that the vast majority of the industry is based on making us all into eye candy for presumably men, whose personal aesthetic tastes, (moulded by the money grubbing media machine, often reflecting nothing of what actual people actually find attractive, etc) have so many healthy humans jumping onto the surgeon's operating table. I get it I get it I get is a big big deal, it is not hairdyeing, it is not nose piercing, and I shouldnt have implyed that they were the same--and yet what of what I was really trying to say with this whole post, which I may have failed at, which was the double standards that mothers specifically are dealing with when the idea of this comes up?
Where does it leave me when I think about the idea that "people" would think less of me as a mother or a feminist or a womyn (LOL) if I had my abdominal blob-pouch removed? I hate this f-ing thing, and it isnt because of the media--I really do hate it! I would be happier if it was gone. Yes. I would.

The one sentance you wrote really had me thinking-- where you said "the cosmetic surgery industry is trying to sell an idealized version of what humans should look like." That really made me think. For a moment I even almost felt it--like a small twinkling of "Yeah! Who's to say that my stomach isnt what people are supposed to look like! I am a person and this is my stomach" But then, it just didnt stick.

This is kind of why I never wanted to bring up cosmetic surgery because it is too hard not to get stuck in the entryway. People who are against it have a fantastic argument. But what about the whole thing that I was bringing up, getting beyond being "for" or "against", and realizing that there are people who are damning MOMS alone and singularily turning out the big Guilt Guns on them with a bunch of BS about not loving yourself and not being proud of yourself and all sorts of other jibjab that just doesnt cut it for me. I still think it is just more guilt trippin for the moms. We really dont see anyone guilt tripping the strippers or the overeaters or the entire cast of hollywood characters we know and love from Tv and films--but oh good lordie if someone lists "pregnancy and breastfeeding" as their reasons for looking into surgery, everyone is a huge love-yer-body tree hugger all of a sudden. Why? Because mothers are supossed to be so noble and above it all, so high minded and other worldly in our sacrifice and purity that we must be beyond the earthly sins of external appearances? Why? So those same people who are putting us on that antiquated pedestal can dismiss us as ugly and damaged goods? The life expectancies are up into the 80 years now, so it isnt "you have a baby and then you prepare to die at age 40" anymore--I have the possibility of a long life ahead of me, and I really dont want this pooch thing to be a part of the journey--why oh why does it feel so horrible to be honest? I shave my legs and pits, too--is that also hating the human form? Some would say yes. I had a phase when I was 19 and 20 when I didnt shave my legs anymore. It was fun. Now I do again. Because I like to.

Maybe I AM just a victim of it all, and maybe so what? What if I just so happened to not want a freaky tummy blob that I never ever bargained for, for the rest of my life?

I SWEAR that even if I lived on an island of exclusively pouch-sacked stomach people, I would still love to get mine cut off. It is as unrelated to my love of being a mother as anything else. I just dont want a fricking belly sack. And while I'm in there, yeah, Id take a breast reduction and lift, too--even to feel what this would be like for one week would be so awesome.

I went into this article thinking Rah Rah SisBoomBah, down with the image-police! Down with dissin' on Mama-Bodies...and then I followed the links to each little Mom and her story, and I felt myself getting more and more mixed and confused and finally--to be quite honest-jealous. And I thought I would share that with you-all, because as surprising as it might have been for some of you to read what I had written, I was surprised at myself, too. But it felt good to point out what I felt was total bullshit, judging mothers who want surgery when not judging others who do.

I am still so mixed. And I have alot of anger surrounding my surgeries and stuff, as you all know. Does anyone else ever find themselves judgin' up a storm when they read something or watch TV, but then have honest truths when it comes to applying life choices to their own selves? I know I do. Any armchair nutritionists out there, chowing on some Doritos? Any backseat marriage counselors nodding along with Oprah, with their own estranged partner on their way home tonight at 6? Is it just me who feels one way in theory but another way in personal choice?

I guess what I was really admitting to was that yes, even though I PUKE at the shows like The Swan and I HATE the repeated messages like "after she had a baby, her body, well, it just wasnt the same and she wanted to fix it..."

I still want to, sometimes. And I KNOW I am not bad or shallow or uninformed. Just extremely manic when I write :)

Rixa said...

This has got me thinking--it's easy to poo-poo cosmetic surgery, but we do a lot of other things to our bodies to change/enhance our appearance. We get our hair cut, we shave/wax/pluck, we wear makeup (okay, so I wear mascara about once a year and that's it), we exercise and part of us does want a better looking body. Is there something about plastic surgery that's different? Is it just in how extreme and expensive it is? That it requires a surgeon and that you can't DIY a boob job?

I'm not sure that a lot of people accept "regular" plastic surgery. Sure, it's talked about as a normal thing in celebrity magazines, but how much does People magazine represent the average person? I think many of us don't really approve of cosmetic surgery anyway. Well, approve isn't the right word...

Well I would love to say other profound things but Zari just woke up. Later.

Housefairy said...

Ive been up blog-reading all night and I think I need to get a handle on how much rage I have over my c section with Charlie. Maybe I just am completely mental and want to cut myself up in definace, to be the cutter and not the cuttee. I need to go to bed.

Rachel S. Barth said...

Found my way to your blog via Pandagon via Ginmar. Hi!

Y'know, this whole issue of Momjobs, to me, is just an extension of something that's been revolting me for several years now: the fetish-ization of motherhood. The transformation of a simple, ordinary biological act that all mammals do into something Important and Sacred.

I'm a massage therapist, and when I was learning about pregnancy massage, I was really smacked in the face with it. We had to watch this video about birth & pregnancy massage, and it put such emphasis on the Sacred Nature of Birth -- I mean it was supposed to be orgasmic. I thought, "Gee, I had two and it sure as fuck was not at all orgasmic. It hurt and I didn't see the face of God even a little. Does that make me inadequate?!" I was overwhelmed by rage and nearly ran out of the room.

Motherhood is not Sacred and Awesome. Even dogs and gerbils do it. It's just natural, and that should be good enough. And it's definitely NOT "the best job I ever had," as women always seem to be saying in cheesy interviews and articles.

So what does this have to do with the plastic surgery issue? Well, it's part of the fetish:

Mom = Sacred Goddess
Sacred Goddess = perfection
Mom must try to = perfection

All that perfection women are seeking is designed to obscure the truth about motherhood -- that it's not orgasmically perfect. Nobody suggests that men are not truly men until they breed, or that they cannot be fulfilled until they have spend a decade elbow-deep in stale Cheerios and Elmer's glue. Why is there such pressure for women to breed, and to experience motherhood as apotheosis?

The plastic surgery is just another way to cover up any imperfections. Hence, any women who are saggy must be chastened into fixing themselves. However, any women who get plastic surgery just because they want to, are expressing unhappiness and must be chastened because they're shattering the illusion of "The Greatest Job I Ever Had." Any women who have small tits aren't truly showing off their Goddess Perfection, and must immediately get bigger tits to look more like breeders. . . but any women who get tits that are too big are subverting the paradigm and must be chastened, preferably by raping them, no doubt. UGH! What an awful cultural bind. Do I sound kinda rant-y? My tits are naturally huge, yet it hasn't measurably improved my life, I don't think.

I wish with my whole heart that women would quit buying into this hideous idea of Mother=Goddess perfection. It cannot be achieved, nor is it necessary at all for a happy life.

Nor do I take much consolation in the trend I see wherein men are slowly being sucked into a comparable insanity of waxing, plucking and whatnot. It's just spreading the craziness.

Rixa said...

Another thought--your c-section belly isn't a "natural" part of motherhood AT ALL. Sure, c-sections are common, but they aren't normal or natural like, say, stretch marks or droopier breasts. So the desire to erase it doesn't have anything to do with how you identify with your self-as-mother. It's a disfiguring surgical wound and frankly, I can really understand why you hate it.

mama k said...

Interesting thoughts.

I too am in that 38H bra while nursing. It would be super awesome to just walk into VS and buy a bra and not have to special order it. It was always my plan to do breast reduction at some point... and then I saw what a finished one looked like. Cookie-cutter nips and a seam down the bottom. It did strike me as "unnatural" But my point is that I completely understand why someone would want to get it done.

On the other hand I have really struggled with my mom's surgeries. She has had a nose job, mini-face lift, chin done, lips done. It does feel like she is saying that it is NORMAL to look like you are in your 30's when are in your mid-50's.

So yeah, I get the comfort thing, but I also think it is too accepted in general. Hollywood has defintely screwed us up. (Anyone else think it was obnoxious that everyone was calling Brittney "fat" after that VMA disaster?)

Trish said...

I think it's the double standard that you point out that is disturbing. To have surgery or not isn't so much the issue. It's the idea that MOMS getting the surgery are somehow "undoing" their "badges of honor" or something. Do men who get botox injections get accused of "undoing" their "years of experience"?

Hey, if I could find a way to lift my boobs and belly back to where they once sat - without surgery, because I have issues there - I'd find a way to afford it!!! It's a comfort issue for me - the chaffing and pinching bras, etc.

I feel like playing on the fears of new moms - that their bodies are disfigured and require fixing - bothers me. I guess it's the marketing that I find distasteful. Then again, they have the packages for aging people with the eye-lifts, etc. I find that distasteful too.

I like that these things are available for those who really feel it improves their lives - but I don't like being made to feel that I'm inadequate because I haven't "fixed" my body.

Angi said...

I think what I love about your post is this idea: do we really need to be judging each other either way? There are plenty of choices to be made and views to take and we don't need to be tearing down each other because we disagree with something. This has been a great discussion and I appreciate that there have been a lot of different view points expressed and its really a good thing that we can help each other see different sides of things. I don't think someone should ever feel bad for wanting to fix something that makes them feel uncomfortable or even if it just makes them feel ugly, regardless of how that thing came to be. Birthing does a heck of a lot to our bodies. I personally am in awe of what my body did during my four pregnancies and births and I am grateful for a strong, healthy mom body...that doesn't mean I haven't thought about zipping off all this extra skin under my belly button.

phillipsmob said...

Joy, I found your blog through Heather's (itstwinsanity) anyway I hope you do not mind me adding you to my blog roll b/c I love your upfront attitude and your writing is terrific!

I too long for the day when my breasts are perfectly perched above, but after nursing 3 children and eventually more it will never happen!

So not comfortable in my body right now, it has everything to do with giving birth 9 weeks ago. I look back at when i was a teenager and think, "Man it'd be great to be that size again!" But good grief when I was THAT size I though I was fat!


mamalove said...

Well, I'm outing myself. I've got a great rack full of saline. There, I said it. I guess you'd say I fit the description of a natural kind of mama, but I wanted tits and got them. I love them. My husband loves them. The nursing babe loves them. There really isn't some deep issue as to why I got excessive body issues...I just really wanted nice full breasts. I was a 36A and droopy after my 2nd child. I was in a stable, committed relationship with a man who adores me and thinks I'm the hottest woman on earth (no really, he does). He wasn't even a factor in this decision; it was all me. I wanted my breasts to match my booty and I got it. I've never once regretted it. Sure, I realize this might make me seem other mothers. Maybe less credible? I don't really know. I've felt the judgment here and there when I've chosen to reveal it, but at my age and life experience behind me, I honestly don't give a rat's ass. I know I'm cool with my decision, and really, my tits are truly spectacular. :) I like what you said, Joy: "But just remember this: for every woman who might have what you think are the "Wrong reasons" for wanting cosmetic surgery, there might be many women who have some other reasons, and its none of your damn business."

Thank you for that!

Linda said...

First, I just want to get this out of the way -- how dare you, Rachel, to think that you can make that judgment for everyone else. So motherhood isn't Sacred and Important and all whatever else to you. It is to *me*. I've given birth four times and been a mother for over a decade. It is the most profound thing I've ever done. How DARE you dismiss it as a sick fetish. Clearly you know nothing about it.

Okay, deep breathing. Right then, onward: Joy, what I found interesting about your post is that I have never considered it from that perspective -- that is, it never occurred to me that people actually judge moms for wanting to look different than they do. That seems crazy to me -- we all, well except maybe monks living in Siberia, I don't know, do things to ourselves to make ourselves look a certain way that appeals to us. Even the goddess earth mama hippie freaks. Like you point out, it would be hypocritical and irrational to draw a line at the use of a knife to achieve the effect, whatever it is.

For me, the issue has always and only been that it is hard for me to see people doing things to themselves that are ultimately dangerous and painful, simply in order to please *others*. So, for instance, I get big unmovable half-melons ostensibly to keep my husband. Or I spend a ridiculous amount of time and money on makeup and hair supplies and new clothes because I'm afraid that I won't be acceptable to society otherwise. I used to not be able to leave the house without having makeup on, I am not kidding. I couldn't exercise or go out into the wind and rain because it would mess up my hair. Now, this is extreme... or is it? In fact, I know many women who seem to be similarly encumbered with such bullshit.

My life has improved *dramatically* since I've come around to not giving a fuck what anyone else thinks. Talk about comfort -- it is SO much more comfortable (and healthy) to me to not have to wear a bra, to wear wide, flat shoes, to wear skirts with elastic waists, to not obsess about food, to not suffer and hurt myself with dieting and painful exercise, and the etc. goes on and on and on.

What angers me is when I see other women suffering in this way. What your post makes me realize, however, is that I may be projecting, and that what I regard as another's motivations may not be the case at all.

Angi said...

Just to chime in, although this isn't the subject here-birth was spiritual to me also. There are a lot of things that humans get emotiional or feel spiritual about, that all or a lot of mammals do. For instance, to a lot of people, sex is spiritual...most mammals--they just do it. Also a lot of birds and mammals mate for life, not unlike humans, but we call it marriage (traditionally) and a lot of people find getting married to be a spiritual experience. I don't know, there are other examples I can think of but I don't want to drone on...
For me,(and its happened four times) having a new life come to the earth through me, has always been one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had.

Housefairy said...

I dont want to put words in Rachel's mouth,and I welcomed her post with a bemused chuckle at her forthright and bold sentiments. but I knew there was a good chance people might take great offense at the insinuation that birth and motherhood are just normal and not *magical*, etc.

I don't know if she will come back, but I will say that I think I do know what she was saying, and I hesitate to "go there". Let me just say that historical events and socio-politics have put all of womanhood and motherhood and what is is to be a woman and to experience human existence as a female under many microscopic lenses. Some religious in nature, some sexual in nature, all defined by men and all hindering us and labeling us and defining us from infancy to the grave.

One of those "roles" is the Madonna/Whore complex and it's variants, and again, I hesitate to write about this because I dont know if I can do it the way I want to.

I have read her post again and I think she was just reacting to the heaps and piles of lables and roles that have been slapped onto all of us women until we feel like we will burst and run screaming from it all.

Maybe she got so pissed at her pregnancy massage video class because her own births were not groovy candlelit "spiritual moments" and she felt angry or felt loss or maybe she really, really bristles at the whole idea of magical moments, etc.

I used to be the same way, and chose conciously to open my heart slowly to the whole world of things that I used to HARSHLY dismiss as "hippie crap". It involved me forgiving people from my past, and being in a 100% safe relationship, etc.

To each her own, and I love where this had gone so far. Too cool about the implants "confession" :)and to everyone thinking about how and why they alter their own external images and if the reasons are positive or negative or habit or concious or maybe something else...

Love you all

hurk said...

I really appreciated the honesty of your post, Housefairy.
I'm a a mom of four, two home birth babies, and am about as crunchy as they get. I eat organic, don't colour my hair, or wear makeup, did elimination timing, homeschool, breastfed for 9 years consecutively.

But I did just recently had a breast reduction and tummy tuck. It is something I struggled with for a long time, and worried about my daughter thinking about later on.

But having size 34H breasts and a huge saggy tummy from a 75 lb weight gain/loss for twins and sever muscle separation meant that I personally chose these proceedures so that I could continue to live a busy and full life with my children. My body still reflects that i'm a mom of four. I still have large Breasts, and pudgy hips and stretch marks.

But I don't have constant shoulder pain, I can sit up straight now that my stomach muscles are in the center of my abdomen again and I don't have back pain.

Like every thing else,(including birth) plastic surgery is often used to isolate and separate women who may choose these proceedures.

On a theoretical level, I'm sure that most agree that all women are beautiful in whatever form we have and we should never be forced to change for societal reasons. EVER.

However, we all have personal baggage and stories and I think that these are also important to keep in mind. And as you mention, many people choose surgery as a matter of comfort.

Life is humbling sometimes. It's important to keep that in mind.

Housefairy said...

Hurk-- your comment meant alot to me. I, too, had a severe diastasis (seperated stomach muscles) that I do not think went back right. I tried the excersizes but cannot sit up straight--truly stright--for even one second. I fantasized that a breast reduction and tummy tuck would help, but wasnt sure.

Thank you for sharing the idea of being humbled. Dont you just cringe at how much you used to "know" when you were 20?

Angi said...

I think your points about Rachel are good. It didn't seem like she was making accusations. I think she's coming from a different place in regards to her own births than maybe some others are coming from. We all see things through such different lenses. A lot of people see birth as a means to an end--I go through this horror but at the end I get a beautiful baby...and a lot of other women attach a different significance to the birth process. Thank you Joy, there is just something so cool about the atmosphere of this blog. You've really created a place where people of all different views feel safe enough to express themselves.