How did that title make you feel? Did you have a visceral reaction to the words plastic and surgery? How about how I promote healthy living and loving yourself and the fact that I have had plastic surgery, does that stir something up? Good, let’s explore that and learn together.
When I decided I was going to try and lose weight I weighed in at 217 pounds on a 5’4″ frame. I had lost a little weight before but always gained it back. Prior to starting my journey I had read all the articles that said I “should love my body no matter what” but I’m sorry, that was, and still is, CRAP! I couldn’t love my body because I was not doing anything loving for my body. Was I eating fast food every day? No, in fact, I ate relatively healthy according to the standard North American food pyramid suggestions. However, I was not exercising and I did not feel good in my own skin.
After instituting an exercise program and healthier lifestyle, I lost weight and luckily for me, I lost weight quickly! When I weighed 170 pounds I would look at myself in the mirror and I started to love my body. I was still considered obese for my frame; however, I was doing the right things for my body and could actually appreciate myself and my body for all it had accomplished.
Lesson #1: When you do good things for your body, you are open to loving your body.
I continued to lose weight until I found myself at a healthy weight for my body type (I range between 155-159) and when I looked in the mirror that body love went right out the window. What were once breasts were now deflated sacks of skin and the pooch (second belly or whatever you call it) was a flap of skin that sat on my legs covering my vulva. After many months of trying to love what I saw, focus on all the positive things about my weight loss journey and still hating the front of my body, I decided to visit the plastic surgeon. I spent a lot of time browsing the different people I could go to, their testimonials and reviews, as well as sifting through some before and after pictures to know exactly what I wanted. I even found a highly rated company that specialized in plastic surgery vancouver area, however, I knew that as much as I wanted to visit, this would be too far for me to go! So I managed to settle on someone a tad closer to home, and the excitement began to rise within me. Was this my one-way ticket to that body confidence I had craved so much for so long?
Do I believe in loving your body? Of course! Do I speak to women about loving themselves and help them to do so? Yes, I do. Do I believe I am a hypocrite for my actions? Absolutely not. There are many articles telling women to love their bodies, which is great. But here’s the thing…the judgement that if you don’t love what you see & do something to change it, then you’re not authentic, is harmful.
I have had many women come up to me, as I am an open book and share my life, and say, “I will never wear a bikini, but I decided I will just live (and be happy) with the way I look”. Sometimes implying I should have done the same. I don’t mind their judgement because really their comments have nothing to do with me and everything with how they feel. I am a mirror to what they want, but something has stopped them. If they have decided to live with (and love) the way they look, then they should rock out that kick-ass bikini! But the fear of being judged for having surgery, the stigma in our society that plastic surgery is inherently wrong or makes you weak, holds them back. In reality, this goes directly against the “you should love yourself no matter what” movement. If the “love yourself no matter what” movement makes women that don’t love what they see mask, hide, and suppress their true desires then I call bullshit to the whole body love movement.
Lesson #2: Loving your body means loving yourself and not hiding your true wants and desires, even if it goes against convention.
Recently, there was a video that went viral about a man who had lost over 100 pounds and also promotes healthy living. The video shows what is under his shirt, hanging skin and deflated breasts, and his cry to show the struggle of losing a lot of weight. His go fund me contributions for his plastic surgery shot up like crazy with many people wanting to help him remove the excess skin and to feel good in the body he worked so hard to get, which is amazing! This made me contemplate, why is it okay for him to get surgery, and ask for money to do so from strangers, but when I tell people I had a tummy tuck, breast lift and augmentation that I “didn’t love myself enough” or “you should be proud of your baby stretch marks” or “didn’t really achieve the results I did without surgery” or “spent money on myself that should have been spent on my family”.
Lesson #3: There is a disparity between a man wanting and spending money on plastic surgery and a woman wanting and doing the same.
When I looked in the mirror I saw a woman who had worked so hard to become the healthiest version of herself, help motivate others to do the same, and hated what she saw. My breasts, the beautiful things I had plenty of my whole life, were not smaller, they were gone. It was like the breast tissue was taken out, but the skin left behind. My stomach skin, although I was so happy it no longer had fat in it, was getting in the way of my life. I couldn’t exercise without it getting in the way (whether it was running, squatting or holding a plank) and I had to tuck it tightly into pants that were technically my size but too small to fit the skin. I did not love the body I saw in front of me and that was when I realized you can’t put a price on mental health.
When I made the decision to have plastic surgery to remove the excess skin and give myself my breasts back, everything changed. The self-hate and inner negativity stopped and my body love flourished. I was happier and started focusing on my beautiful life and I hadn’t even had the surgery yet! Just knowing that I was going to be the woman I felt on the inside made me happy. I no longer focused on my body and actually started the journey to self-love. I have been post-op for over a year now and I have no regrets. Am I perfect? Not by any means, I have stretch marks, love handles, jiggly thighs and a butt that won’t quit but I LOVE my body.
Lesson #4: You can participate in a self-love journey, learn to love your body, and still have elected to have plastic surgery.
I hope that these few lessons that I have shared with you can shed some light on someone’s decision and journey to elect to have surgery. In the end, my hope is that we can put to rest some judgements about women who have chosen surgery and have compassion for their journey and choices. Of course, we are so much more than a body; however, with all the body shaming and finger-pointing out there I believe we should extend the definition of body love to include having compassion and love for our whole selves AND for others.
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