Changing My Mind - Island of Sanity

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Changing My Mind


Changing My Mind
- or - Is Cosmetic Surgery Frivolous?

I'm a very opinionated person. It usually takes a lot to change my mind. But recently, someone changed my mind with one sentence.

I was home alone and I left the TV on basically for background noise. I was only half paying attention to it, when a program came on that I almost surely would not have watched if I was deliberately choosing something. It was about people who have had elective cosmetic surgery. By "elective" here I mean, cosmetic surgery other than to repair clearly disfiguring birth defects or accidents.

Before I watched this program, my opinion was that it is reasonable and rational to have surgery to correct disfigurment, but that surgery to enhance your appearance to meet some arbitrary ideal -- shortening your nose or increasing your bust or the like -- was frivolous, pointless, and wasteful. I had a friend years ago who had a birth defect that resulted in a strange growth on his forehead: basically this big red glob sticking out the front of his head. I certainly understood why he had surgery to have that removed. But people who are not obviously disfigured, who just think this surgery will make them prettier ... I always thought, What's the point? Do you really think that men will like you more if only you had a bigger bust, or that your business associates will respect you more if only you had more hair? Do you really think this will change your life? As a libertarian-leaning person, I wouldn't have suggested that this be illegal or anything like that. But I thought it was dumb.

And indeed, some of the people on this program confirmed my view that they were nuts. Like, one man had a series of operations to make him look like comedian Drew Carey. I didn't think he looked all that much like Drew Carey when he was done, and if I was going to pick people that I wanted to look like, Drew Carey would not be very high on my list. (No offense, Mr Carey, in the unlikely case that you care what I think of your appearance.)

Then they had one woman on who, they said, had gone through a number of operations, ranging from increasing her bust to making her lips bigger, and who had spent several hundred thousand dollars in the process. The reporter asked her the question that was on my mind, Why? Wasn't this a waste of money? But she gave an excellent reply. She said (not an exact quote, I don't have a transcript of the program, but this was the general idea): It's my money, I worked for it and I earned it. If I had spent this money to buy a big boat, nobody would have questioned it. This is what I wanted to do with my money. This gives me pleasure. So why shouldn't I?

That really stopped me. She was right. If someone spent $100,000 to buy a yacht because she enjoys sailing and has fun with it, surely no one would question that for a moment. I don't have $100,000 to throw around but I spend most of my spare money on computer toys and board games and books and going to the movies. Is that any less frivolous? If she believes that this surgery makes her prettier, and that gives her pleasure ... why not?

She's certainly not hurting anyone.

So I think she had an excellent point. Who am I to tell her what she should or should not do for fun? If this is what she wants to do with her own money, honestly gained, on what grounds do I say that the things that I do for fun are "better"?

© 2009 by Jay Johansen


Comments

Bombon Jul 23, 2014

FMLA does not offer paid time off, it just allows an emepoyle to have time off to take care of a sick family member. So he may be allowed time off to take care of you, but if he does not have some vacation or sick time to use it will not be paid time off.Since he hasn't been at the job for a long time, and since your surgery is elective don't you think it would be more prudent to have another family member who does not work help you out? Depending on the surgery, do you REALLY need help? Most people recovering from surgery recover just fine by laying on the sofa with the tv remote control. What do you expect your husband will have to do for you?

Joe Oct 3, 2015

FMLA does not offer paid time off, it just allows an emyolpee to have time off to take care of a sick family member. So he may be allowed time off to take care of you, but if he does not have some vacation or sick time to use it will not be paid time off.Since he hasn't been at the job for a long time, and since your surgery is elective don't you think it would be more prudent to have another family member who does not work help you out? Depending on the surgery, do you REALLY need help? Most people recovering from surgery recover just fine by laying on the sofa with the tv remote control. What do you expect your husband will have to do for you?

Robin Heckler Jan 8, 2017

Very nice to see you change your point of view on this. As to whether her husband's jib will cover him having time off to care for her afterwards with FMLA. I seriously doubt that will be an issue if she has $1900,000 to throw around on cosmetic surgery. I'm sure if need be, he can afford to take a day or two off from work.
The article was insightful and shows you are growing and learning not everything is black and white. Well done Jay.

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