"Foot Binding and Cosmetic Surgery" Fri Mar-18-05 08:27 AM by Nettrice
One of the girls I mentor told me that if she had money she would elect to have cosmetic surgery. It is no wonder. Television has plenty of shows that feature women (and some men) who will go to all lengths to mold their bodies or parts of their bodies into a "beauty" standard, some to an extreme (Jocelyne Wildenstein or Michael Jackson): http://www.askmen.com/fashion/austin/23_fashion_style.html. More in the case of women than men, cosmetic surgery is supposed to make us more desirable, more able to marry, and have a higher social status. To my little sister, the ticket out of her current circumstances may be surgery. Of course this is crazy but I needed to find examples to show her how crazy it is.
Last night, I saw a show on Nature channel that documented the process of foot binding that was commonplace less than 100 years ago:
"Foot binding was more than a fashion statement, it was a way of life for about one billion women as well as the men around them. It took much more than laws and protests to bring foot binding to an end. Foot binding had higher consequences, greater appeal, and is more desirable than any other practice women implemented to be beautiful in history. It cannot be seen as a simple fashion statement. It was part of the society, the roots being buried under many parts of Chinese culture. It had roots in making a woman more desirable, marriageability, and higher social status. Foot binding not only crippled the women who went through the process but as well as crippled women in China for centuries. Being crippled by foot binding, they had such a little role in the government. It was a custom that started out to define beauty but ended up defining the way the society was." - http://www.ccds.charlotte.nc.us/History/China/04/hutchins/hutchins.htm
If you read to whole article, you will find that men played a critical role in perpetuating the practice of foot binding. Today, in the medical and media industries, cosmetic surgery is done mostly by men...to women. At the top of many guy's lists of women who are most desirable are women who obviously had cosmetic surgery. Star Jones gets a tummy tuck (and other work done) and snags a husband. There are plenty of sites that show the before and after of many women in entertainment and the media.
What message does all this send the average girl? Or boy? Does the practice of elective cosmetic surgery play a role in maintaining sexism?