If cosmetic surgery helps you feel better about yourself…

January 4, 2022


…then you might want to take another look at your values.

I know: that’s BLASPHEMY.

It’s the defense of cosmetic surgery I hear most: “There’s nothing wrong with it if it makes you feel better about yourself.”

I saw it again today, posted by someone who has significant social media influence. They got a lot of agreement. When people are aggressively certain about their position and influence others, it gets my attention.

Especially when that person has missed what I believe to be the larger issue: our society’s need for women to look a certain way, regardless of age. And how women buy the idea that feeling good about themselves depends on their appearance.

THIS is the bigger issue with cosmetic surgery.

If someone needs to get bigger breasts, a facelift or some other appearance-related procedure to feel better about themselves, it seems to me their values are cockeyed.

Appearance is superficial. I believe that valuing the superficial over the substantive is part of what’s wrong with our society. In fact, it puzzles me.

Are we really a better person because we have bigger boobs? Wrinkle-free skin? Or those awful duck lips that, for some unknown reason, seem to be the rage?

Should it matter enough to go under the knife? Or spend thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars on cosmetic surgery?

What does it say about someone if their self-confidence depends on how they look?

More important: what does it say about our society?

I have a different view. Seems to me that we should feel “better” about ourselves if we’re living a good life, doing meaningful work and working on our own personal development. If we are contributing to the world around us.

Hey, I like a great body as much as the next person and maybe more. But how I value someone has nothing to do with that. I know plenty of physically beautiful people with incredible bodies who are not very nice.

If we feel like kicking it up a notch — “improving” ourselves– why not take a course? Develop a reading list? A meditation or yoga practice?

Of course, it begs the question of why we have to feel “better” about ourselves? Why couldn’t we just accept who we are and go from there?

As is often the case, I watched this person’s followers rush to agree, maybe to curry favor or maybe because they haven’t yet developed an opinion of their own. Or are afraid to voice it in the face of such vehemence. Such is the case with people who have influence. If you disagree, you get their version of shouting down. They are very certain of their view.


It won’t be the first time I’ve gotten pushback when I comment that those procedures are unnecessary and even harmful. Because few people today take a moment to think it through. To look at it more broadly.

“I’m all for whatever makes someone feel good about themselves. Each to their own.”

Well, not so fast with that particular justification.

Take a moment and consider the bigger issue. And imagine what the world would be like if we valued kindness, decency and intellectual development over appearance?

What if folks were inspired to spend the same amount of time, money and effort developing their internal selves?

Now that’s a world I’d like to live in.
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18 comments on “If cosmetic surgery helps you feel better about yourself…
  1. I think you can have it both ways. We should value a number of things over looks, but that doesn’t negate the fact that there may be some very positive feelings (and sometimes even relief) resulting from making some changes to our looks (not talking about those suffering from body dysmorphia here).

    • I just would rather live in a world where the superficial has far less sway than it does in our society. Just look around. When 30 year olds are getting botox …when implants are routine…yeah/no.

  2. I wouldn’t mind having my saggy neck folds lifted a bit but I would never mess with the skin on my face—it changes the appearance too much, and not in a good way.

    • This is the first year i have really noticed a big change. I just don’t want to risk going under, for one. And I would like to have the courage of my convictions to be steadfast in how nature has made me. But of course it is hard.

    • Barbara Herel says:

      I agree with you. And I don’t understand how women think they look younger or their best when fillers, Botox change the shape of their faces. Once I hit 50 I started noticing real changes in my face and neck. I notice it every day and I wish my laugh lines weren’t so deep and my neck didn’t have a little waddle. But this is where I am. So I smile more and my laugh lines and neck look better to me.

  3. Diane says:

    Years ago, this Twilight Zone aficionado watched an episode titled ‘Eye of the Beholder’. About a woman trying to change her looks to ‘fit in’. It affected me in ways I’m still discovering. When I started dating, I was vastly more interested in IQ than GQ. Kindness over ‘How does he look in his jeans?’ (Lucked out there…)
    Substance over the superficial.
    That’s what lasts. Truly.

  4. Adela says:

    I decided around the age of 50, that I might consider getting rid of droopy eyes and marionette mouth when I am ready to donate the same amount of money to help the homeless and the hungry. Until then, smaller donations and liberal moisturizer will do.

    Besides, the people who I admire most have deep lines in their faces. I’m getting there. I tell myself it would be lunacy to want to look like I did before menses. Why should I aspire to something pre-menopause. I won’t be 13 again (thank God.) and I won’t be 35 again (okay, I admit, that might be nice.)

  5. Laurie Stone says:

    Most of the time the results of cosmetic surgery look horrible. I might consider it if there were no duck lips, rubbery, stretched faces, or women who look like The Joker. I guess it’s the ones who have had it done and you can’t tell. They must be out there. But most of the time, its a flashing neon sign about fear of aging.

  6. Lauren says:

    I’m one of those people who says you should do you…whatever makes you feel better. I don’t pass judgement on either decision or road taken. But watching our faces and bodies wrinkle and sag is a hard pill for some of us to accept and I get it. I am against looking freakish, but those who have had good work done, you probably can’t tell anyway. I agree we need to work on our insides, but the judgement from youth-obsessed society does not make aging any easier.

  7. Aurora Cruz says:

    I think that if one wants to do it for whatever reason, it’s her choice and doesn’t need to be shamed or judged for it. If it’s superficial, so what? I’m a kind person, vegan, animal activist, great grandma, and I get botox and had a thread lift. That doesn’t take away all of my great internal qualities, does it? It should not.Maybe that’s why I don’t have a lot of female friends. There’s a lot of negativity here. Sad.

    • I think what’s REALLY sad is the actual point i made–which is that society values the superficial over substance and that those values make it hard for women to age naturally. And that is definitely a negative thing.

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