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Can We Stop Giving The Side-Eye To Women For Getting Plastic Surgery?

Her Voice

On a random day during a dull week, I all but dropped confetti from the ceiling announcing that I might get my breasts lifted. My friend's most immediate reaction was to fire off a stark "Why?" with a stank face.


In the past, she has also admitted that she desires elective surgery, but yet there I sat, feeling forced to make my case to another woman who claims to support the rights and choices of other women – all the while policing their bodies. I was met with the disdain of someone who has made space for the stereotypical assumptions surrounding women who partake in elective surgery.

Still, I entertained the dialogue because it's one that needed to be had. On any given day, I'd be out here braless regardless of how my breast hang, which highlights that this decision is the furthest thing from coercion based on societal shame or any one person's shame.

Not everyone seeks to get plastic surgery because of their programming or insecurity rooted in societal beauty standards.

And, although I'm 100 percent sure that this is what cosmetic surgery is rooted in, I hear so many friends discussing elective surgery that at this point, it is on the verge of being normalized for no reason other than because it's our damn prerogative.

Plastic surgery has been labeled as this God-awful thing that one does until they've reached a pinnacle of self-hate or want to appeal to men, but there seems to be little to no grey area on the subject matter. Although self-hate has definitely been the case for some, I don't believe it always has to be this deep...after all "hate" is a strong word, especially when used to describe a majority of those partaking in cosmetic surgery.

Personally, I viewed it as an opportune time to explore the idea, as the surgery could potentially be covered through my insurance and the worst that they could say is "no" right?

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People are allowed a preference and while there are women who revel in the beauty of their stretch marks and breasts that have withstood the test of time and gravity, that's not my mood in regards to my own body. For better or worse, that is my vanity operating full throttle. Can vanity be fueled by insecurity? No doubt. Still, being vain is not always indicative of latent insecurity so much as it is what it is: shallowness. I know that may be a crazy concept, so I'm running it back just a little bit louder and a little bit more clear:

In the same way that embracing your natural body doesn't make you secure, it does not indicate insecurity when a woman seeks out surgical enhancement.

I yearn to be free of the societal standards of how I should look or what size breasts are allowed to be free of the harness contraption thought up by controlling men moonlighting as paternal figures. I'll go braless with zero shame in a heartbeat, but if I can have perkier breasts, I'll take that rack too because why the hell not? Of all the things I am insecure about with my body, my breasts are not one – so I feel safe assuring anyone that there's not a sense of dissatisfaction pushing me to consider having my breast strung up a little higher.

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But even if it were due to dissatisfaction, we can't advocate that women have the autonomy to make some decisions about her body without judgement, without honoring that same reasoning for the rest of that woman's body.

Either way, it's not our place to put a scarlet letter on women who opt for cosmetic surgery.

At best, I'll give way to the thought that societal standards have programmed this level of vanity, but isn't that everything that we know? The norms that we don't enjoy, we fight to deconstruct, but the thought of elective surgery in a healthy manner doesn't strike me as the worst message I or you or we have received from the world.

As a Black woman in America, I think the more pressing issue and dangerous message is sent by society's praising of the Kardashians who pay to make themselves in the image of Black women, meanwhile, Black women are ostracized for the very same features.

If I'm going to have a stake in the impact of plastic surgery, it's not going to be for the woman who has made the choice to responsibly opted for plastic surgery. Instead, I'm going to give my attention to advocating for those who would put themselves in harm's way in order to alter their image. Those who spend their last to alter their image. Women who are addicted to plastic surgery to the point of being unrecognizable. These are the scenarios that I personally feel require intervention – some on a micro level (mental health care) and others on a macro level (added restrictions on the black market).

Otherwise, and I'm sad that I even have to tell you this but, my body, my choice.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissions@xonecole.com.

Featured image by Getty Images.

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