I was born too late. Okay, maybe that’s an overstatement. Let’s just say I was born too late to get in on the whole “mommy makeover” thing.
In case you’re thinking this is a mani-pedi and a fabulous new shade of ash blonde to cover your roots, think again. A “mommy makeover” is cosmetic surgery that includes breast augmentation and a tummy tuck, performed in one efficient surgery package. Apparently, many young women, specifically the mommies of the new millennium, now end their child-bearing years with perky breasts once again within their grasp, or their husband’s grasp, or within someone’s grasp, by God. When they wear their bikinis, they show off tummies as flat as the housing market.
In the words of my infinitely tolerant dad: God bless. And don’t misunderstand me. I’m not opposed to cosmetic surgery; in fact, I’ve had it. Having a cosmetic procedure is an adult decision most often made by people who want and/or need the surgery to improve their looks, their self-esteem or even their health. But when I heard about “My Beautiful Mommy,” I had to take a moment. What fresh hell is this, I wondered?
Turns out, it’s a book, written by a surgeon to help women explain the idea of plastic surgery to their young children. [Don’t bother checking. There is no book titled “My Handsome Daddy.”] According to the Web site, “Undergoing plastic surgery can be an exciting and stressful time for you and your family. This book will make your plastic surgery experience more understandable for your little ones.” In other words, this is a family thing! Something to share! We know that “[trying to] hide a plastic surgery procedure from your children adds unnecessary stress for both parent and child.”
The super-slim mommy in the book is planning a tummy tuck, a nose job and breast augmentation. She explains the tummy tuck easily to her child: “You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn’t fit into my clothes anymore. [Author] Dr. Michael [Salzhauer] is going to help fix that and make me feel better.” Fine. (We’ll leave aside the changes that diet, exercise and even time can make, and assume that after trying all those ways to recover her pre-pregnancy figure, mommy still needs a little help from Dr. Michael.)
The book spends a little less time explaining why mommy’s breasts also couldn’t ‘fit into her clothes anymore’ or why her nose needed a touch or two as well. (By “a little less time,” I mean “none.”) There is no section that reads as follows: “You see, as I got older, after I’d spent years nursing you when you were a baby, my breasts drooped and I couldn’t make them stand up anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me (and daddy) feel better.” There is no page that reads as follows: “And as long as we’re at it, I’ve asked Dr. Michael to smooth out the bump and reshape the fleshy tip of my nose.”
Since these procedures are not addressed, it begs the question: what is the child going to think when Mommy’s eyes look black and blue? When she looks like she was hit by a bus because her entire torso is wrapped in bandages? What about when Mommy’s chest feels “squishier” during a hug? Why not tell those stories instead of how you’ll fit into your jeans again?
In a Newsweek article, Dr. Salzhauer acknowledges that the idea behind enlarging breasts or reshaping a nose is not as easily understood by a child, and the book is for children between the ages of four and seven. Agreed. So we just ignore mommy’s bigger breasts and her different nose?
Let’s be honest. The book’s intentions are seemingly honorable: young children get reassurance that Mommy isn’t sick, she isn’t injured and she will get well after a period of recovery. I get that but here’s a different perspective: mommy gets reassurance that she doesn’t need to feel self-centered or indulgent for wanting the surgery.
Let’s agree that if a mommy makeover is in your future, you’ll leave your children out of it. Send them to Grammy’s or to Aunt Suzy’s for a nice long weekend and pick them up once the packing is removed and the bruises have faded a bit. Because isn’t it just a little much that mommy wants to “share” this experience with her kids, at least to this extent? Buried somewhere in all of this is the idea that having children made mommy less attractive than she used to be (her nose notwithstanding) and she needs to be restored to her prettier self.
But not everything is a family bonding experience. Not everything is, God help us, a “teachable moment.” To put it simply, not everything is your child’s business.
Renee A. James is a freelance writer who lives in Allentown, PA. Her email address is email@example.com and her blog is “It’s not me, it’s you,” found at http:// reneeaj.blogspot.com