I just finished reading this article about a woman who is petitioning the government to fund cosmetic procedures for women who want a Mummy Makeover. It’s actually been pretty widely reported and can I just express my initial feelings about this to you in animated image form:
Where to even begin with this? The petition had over 8000 signatures at the time of writing and after having a look at it on change.org, I’m kind of horrified.
The tone of this petition letter is basically that most women are unhappy with their post-baby bodies and that the surgeries suggested would help get our bodies “back to normal”… And this where my issues begin… Because my post-baby body IS normal.
I carry extra weight, my boobs aren’t perky like they were when I was 19, I have a little extra skin, stretch marks …and all that, my friends, is just as it should be. Some people have more physical changes after having a baby and some have less because we are all different. Bouncing right back with zero physical changes? Sure, I guess it could happen, but it seems unlikely that the process of growing and birthing an entirely new human being would not leave even the smallest change on a woman’s body. Then factor in breastfeeding, sleepless nights and so on. When we have children, there really isn’t any going back- our bodies after children are our new normal.
There is a figure given in the petition letter of 80% of “mental health sufferers” being women. I’m not sure where this figure has come from- I can’t find it anywhere. There’s also no indication of how many are suffering mental illness directly related to physical changes post-pregnancy. I think what she is getting at is that we should do something to actively prevent women from suffering from mental illness. Because plastic surgery=mental well being, right?
The writer, Anna Brine, goes on to say that body image “starts in adolescence and increases after having a baby or a few” and I’m loosely interpreting that to mean that body image is something we posses from a young age that may change after having children. I think that is true. The way we view ourselves can and does change as we age and bear children and experience any number of other things. But the petition then says that we can restore a woman’s sense of self-worth through plastic surgery and this is another area I have a problem with.
Some people make an informed choice to have plastic surgery for whatever reason and that is fine. What is NOT fine is telling someone they will value themselves more if they have a cosmetic procedure. This is coming at the issue completely backwards. Self-worth should not be measured from the outside.
The other points made are kind of confused. She says if a woman feels “less of a woman than other women, then she will accept less for herself and will become down trodden by men” and I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I think what she is getting at that some women may compare themselves to other women and feel they don’t measure up, so therefore may settle for less, or something like that. And in doing so, they will fall victim to men who will treat them poorly. She goes on to describe a lack of comfortable intimacy resulting in what she calls “anticlimactic togetherness”. So basically, women might feel bad looking at other women so will end up in relationships with jerks who won’t fulfill them in bed? Or only insecure women get treated poorly by men? Or only women with flawless bodies get nice men and decent sex lives? In short, mummy makeover surgeries, because MEN.
Anna’s petition letter says that some men can be cruel and insensitive, especially as they are only exposed to a certain body type through the media and yes, I agree, this is a valid point. Some men can indeed fit that description. Anna calls the way the media depicts women a slap in the face and it absolutely is- the depiction of women in the media is unrealistic and unfair. However, she then explains that to get the “necessary surgery” is expensive and while I agree that cosmetic procedures are expensive, I would definitely argue that they are not necessary for the majority of women at all. Instead of undergoing painful surgical procedures to change our perfectly functional bodies to resemble those seen in glossy mags and on catwalks and on television- how about we campaign to show what real bodies look like? Why not celebrate those bodies and accept them instead of nipping, tucking, lifting, implanting and suctioning them? As for men that are cruel and insensitive- can anyone explain to me why we should undergo surgery to impress them? Wouldn’t a little education and a cultural shift be a much better idea?
Anna says that women pay tax and deserve something back for it, especially for paying tax on sanitary items, gym membership and fad diets. May I suggest a menstrual cup? As for the other- these are completely optional. I can tell you that I have not spent a single cent on either of them in years and nor do I plan to. Women pay tax, yes, and we do benefit from that. We have roads, hospitals, public education, transport, Medicare… the list goes on. She lists the procedures she thinks this Mummy Makeover should cover- boob jobs, “vagi plasty”, varicose veins, “lippo sculpture”, tummy tucks and the repair of “perforated stomach muscles” ( I think she means abdominal muscle separation which can require surgical treatment in severe cases- but I believe Medicare already covers those kinds of operations) and honestly, it’s enough to get you paranoid! I don’t want any of those things! Should I??
The petition letter finishes off with a comparison. Anna says your post baby body is like an “ugly jumper”, but that you can’t take it off. And that body is a “loose skin jumpsuit’ that haunts your mind and reflection and stops you being intimate.
Well. Thanks for that.
While it’s true that some people feel this way about their bodies- it’s not true of everyone. I’d rather we talked more about the changes our bodies go through that are completely NORMAL. In fact, perhaps a better idea is to campaign to spread the word about what women’s bodies actually look like- to celebrate body diversity and stop setting unrealistic ideas for women to aspire to and for men to expect? If there was to be any government funding around this issue, perhaps it could be directed into counselling or other ways to make women feel good in their own skin. If the government funded cosmetic surgery like this petition suggests it should, I can help but feel it would be reinforcing this idea that most women need to be fixed or repaired after having a baby, that the normal changes that occur after child bearing are NOT normal and are NOT acceptable, that we need to surgically alter our bodies to please men… All of that just seems so wrong.
Surely I am not the only one who doesn’t want cosmetic surgery? The peace I have come to with my body is actually quite liberating. After god knows how many years worrying over how I looked to others, I stopped. I can’t say when exactly, it wasn’t overnight but more of a process over years and now I am actually perfectly ok with the fact that Miranda Kerr and I will never be clothes-swapping buddies.
I’m not broken. I don’t need to be “put back together”.
If you want to surgically alter your body, I firmly believe you should do so to please yourself– and even then only after careful consideration. Even the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons reminds us that cosmetic surgery is not without risks.
Reading the bottom of this petition, I noted that Anna Brine is actually wanting to pitch this as a television show. Is that what this is all about? Someone wants a tv career?? Then, in an update posted, she suggests that this be funded by our super!! Because women don’t already suffer in that regard because of child bearing?! Motivations aside, this campaign is looking more and more naive.
Honestly, if there were (somehow) a huge surplus in the budget to spend on health care, I can think of many more pressing areas. Mental health is one of the. Dental care is another. As is medical research. This is one petition I just cannot bring myself to sign, especially as it seems to be an ill-informed grab at a stint on tv more than anything else. Instead, I’d like to re-share here a few of the gorgeous pictures that were kindly shared with me when I last wrote about why our post-baby bodies should be celebrated (click here to see the full slideshow)