Guest Post! On body modification and plastic surgery

So, I am SUPER excited about this week’s post. It’s the first ever guest post I’m featuring on my blog (but hopefully not the last!), and it’s by someone I think is really intelligent and awesome. She’s a high school senior, and I have to say, I’m kind of jealous of how awesomely feminist high school students can be these days. As much as I had feminist ideals in high school, I didn’t have the knowledge or language that a lot of students today have.

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I’m really excited to feature other people’s perspectives on my blog!

This week’s guest post is by the fantastic Sonia; you can read the whole thing below!

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A couple of weeks ago, I bought a book titled Sexy Feminism expecting the author to echo back to me my own opinions of how slut-shaming is wrong and how a woman can still call herself a feminist even if she puts on make-up. To say the least, I was disappointed in the message of the book. The chapters that angered me in particular dealt with body modification.

A lot would fall under this label, including plastic surgery, piercings, dieting, and even makeup application. Sexy Feminism, in the first chapter, defended Brazilian bikini waxes, saying that there is nothing counter to the beliefs of feminism in getting a wax, so long as the motives are right. However, in the next chapter, the book condoned plastic surgery. What I took away from that chapter was that the authors felt a woman cannot subject herself to plastic surgery and still go around calling herself a feminist.

The idea that certain actions taken by women can be considered “unfeminist” enrages me to no end. A feminist believes in equality for women, be it political, social, sexual, whatever. So, where is the inequality in body modification? It is certainly not present in the action. A surgical knife rearranging someone’s flesh cannot be judged by its degree of feminism. It would be like saying that cooking stew is racist; the action is innocent.

Well, perhaps feminist criticism of plastic surgery is not a criticism of the act, but rather because of the effect on women. Some would argue that women who are dissatisfied with their appearance are victims of a patriarchal society and by giving in are only strengthening the idea that a woman’s worth is defined by her physical appearance. Others say it leads to more women getting plastic surgery. All forms of body modification get attacked with these arguments and those on the offense tend to throw the word “feminist” around a lot. But does body modification actually lessen the overall power of women and thwart our goals at equality?

At the end of the day, body modification allows women to fit a standard of beauty, but whose? Many women would, without hesitation, say “my own,” but they often forget that society has shaped these standards. When you consider the image of beauty that is projected by the media, it is not surprising that breast augmentation is the most popular surgery in the United States. So are the women who are putting on makeup and changing their bodies to fit near impossible ideals of beauty bad feminists? Not necessarily; the positive practical impacts of body modification have to be considered. Though a woman’s standards of beauty have been affected by society (I’d like to note that this is something that affects both genders, but I’m focusing specifically on women here), they are at the end of the day her own; she has accepted them and added her own flavor to them. If she wants to look more like what she has deemed as “ideal” then where is the inequality? After all, wanting to look good is something common to both genders. If putting on makeup or getting plastic surgery raises a woman’s opinion of herself, then this is a good thing. It leads to women who are more confident and who are not afraid to ask for more because they feel they deserve it. There is nothing unfeminist about that.

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A few guest post notes:

1. I will not tolerate meanness or trolling on guest posts. I’m not that bothered if you want to give me a hard time, but don’t mess with people I care about (and if you are writing a guest post for this blog, you are someone I care about)! Discussion and opposing perspectives are always welcome, as long as they’re respectful.

2. Opinions in guest posts are not necessarily those of I was a High School Feminist.

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2 responses to “Guest Post! On body modification and plastic surgery

  1. i think you may be on to something – criticism is on the effect, rather on the act. those who condone plastic surgery as an act against the beliefs of feminism are obviously ignorant to the essence of feminism, of equality. body modification doesn’t measure a woman’s worth.

    Like

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