Body dysmorphia: when new and improved really isn’t

August 23, 2023


So Madonna had “some work” done a while back. Maybe just too many fillers. But people noticed and discussed.

It’s not a good look. Even the most ardent Madonna fans and defenders of women’s right to make themselves look ridiculous if they wish would have to admit that.

In fact, she’s a walking example of body dysmorphia. So let’s not pretend this is about making fun of Madonna, because it isn’t. It’s about buying into the patriarchy’s view of beauty.

There’s a lot to annoy me on social media. But  one of my hot buttons is constantly pushed by what I consider a silly and destructive argument about women’s right to use filler until they are unrecognizable–or go under the knife ” if it makes them feel good about themselves.”

Madonna is only one example.

Do Not Agree

I disagree that whatever you do to “make yourself feel better about yourself” is just fine. Recent discussions reached a cap of ridiculousity when I saw this headline: Fired broadcaster who performed sex acts on live cam says X-rated shows made himself feel better about himself. 

Are you kidding?  I could understand if it he said he got a thrill out of it. Or it was fun. Each to their own fun. But to find self-esteem through live cam sex is really the limit.

So really, is anything you do ok if it makes you feel better about yourself?  No matter what?

Is it ok to kill someone if “it made me feel better about myself”?

But this need to fiddle with our looks…. It’s not about rights.

It’s about the source of our self-esteem.

Getting our self esteem from how we look.

Dysmorphia rules today

Body dysmorphia is normalized in our society and it’s not healthy.

And so many women look identical post-intervention. Just look at the ‘real housewives’ who all look the same. Teddy Mellencamp comes to mind. I saw a recent photo — she has had significant work done, for sure. It’s not just makeup. Now, she looks like, well, most other blonde women we see on screen. They are indistinguishable. Can’t tell one from another. They look like avatars.

Don’t get me started on that K. family, either. (What examples they set for young girls…NOT. Why do parents allow young girls to watch them?)

Yes, there are people like Jane Fonda who had a gorgeous surgical outcome. She now looks a lot younger than her 85 years. Yes, she really is 85 and the significant cosmetic surgery and enhancements she’s had done make her look maybe… 60? She’s  more “traditionally” beautiful now.

What happened to lovely and natural?

Fonda was a lovely and natural young woman, but her jawline was obviously asymmetrical and I’m certain she didn’t like it. She fixed it. And along the way aged backwards. Her face is far more youthful than her biological age.

However, on the later episodes of Grace and Frankie, she was obviously having mobility issues. Those changes in gait and slow movements of an obviously sore body failed to match the 60-year-old face. Noticeable. Jarring to see that younger face on what is clearly an older woman’s body.

I do love me some Jane. But if we have go under the knife –or use filler till we look like a monster—to make ourselves feel better about ourselves, that’s basically buying into the patriarchy’s view of what a woman should look like. Jane’s an ardent liberal, but on this she misses the mark.

Just because you can…doesn’t mean you should.

I’m not saying she doesn’t have a right to do it. Just that it’s the wrong place to find self esteem. Especially for a huge talent like Ms. Fonda. And it sets a bad example for young women, some of whom are getting cosmetic procedures in their 20s. Their 20s! And why do they do it? Maybe because they’ve been told that any sign of a wrinkle is bad and must be instantly eradicated.

It doesn’t have to be that way. I point to Helen Mirren. Meryl Streep. Emma Thompson. Kate Winslet. Julia Roberts. Aging naturally. Beautiful without cosmetic surgery. Now, some docs online believe that Mirren and Streep have had a tuck or two. I don’t know if that’s true or not. The women say not. But for the most part, they look their ages. But …have you seen Mirren in a bikini??? Holy you-know-what. That is not anything but hard work.

All have done quite well on their talent and more natural looks.

Back to Madonna. She seems dysmorphic to the extreme. Why do I think that? Because it’s a terrible outcome and she doesn’t seem to notice that it is. Same as all the housewives. They can’t see it.

I won’t even talk about the new “weight loss drugs.” Not yet, anyway.

Bottom line

The big issue here is self-esteem. This emphasis on how women look –and getting self-esteem from appearance– sets a very bad example for young girls.

It’s damaging to our society.

But then again, what isn’t, these days?

Have you checked out our gifts, lately?

9 comments on “Body dysmorphia: when new and improved really isn’t
  1. I just heard an awesome interview with Jane Fonda, where she said she regretted her plastic surgery, that she wished she had been more comfortable with her face. It was on Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ podcast, Wiser Than Me. It’s a great listen….also the second interview with Isabel Allende. Highly recommended !

    • I will check it out, Kim. I remember an interview with Jane right after she had her last big surgery in which she said she didn’t care for the results. They were definitely aesthetically gorgeous but she raises such a good point about how we look at ourselves (and others). I am a little sick of people saying ” if it makes you feel good about yourself…” How about being a good person–shouldn’t that make you feel good about yourself? Yeah, major cosmetic surgery is a hot button of mine. I understand it, but it is a sign of a superficial society.

  2. Diane says:

    I totally agree, Carol! I’ve never understood the ‘need’ for peels and acids and injections and surgeries. To me I sounds like a horror film. Or a torture chamber.
    Mom always said, “If you need a face-lift, SMILE!”

  3. Laurie Stone says:

    If I was Madonna, I would’ve sued that surgeon. She looks unrecognizable. And yes, many Real Housewives, especially in California, all have that plastic, android look. It’s not even attractive. Even worse, young women get this stuff done, which breaks my heart.

    • It’s a matter of our values as a society. Very flawed. As opposed, to say, the French. Not that I am a big Francophile but I think their women understand better than we do.

  4. Elle says:

    My career was in the Operating Room. I never like plastic surgery cases. Give me a hip/knee replacement shift any day. I say that as the 110% happy recipient of 2 fabulous knees at age 62. I can do ANYTHING I want to again!

    Cheers to getting old and loving every day we’re gifted 🙂


    I think this is some of your best work. We are subjected to deception each day. I have learned this summer that some pain (not untenable pain but a bit of sore, aches pain)
    Our society (and me) thinks we take a kill and keep going. I now realize I have to strengthen my core, change my diet, walk and meditate/pray. I don’t have to have plastic surgery, I do need skin care, facials, nails, toes, great haircut, (as I can afford it)
    I need my family and friends who will be truthful, my dog, plants and books. I have learned this summer nothing is more j portent than health. I hope I have a second chance.

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