Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Coming to Terms with Our Bodies

I doubt there is anyone anywhere who wouldn’t like to change something about his/her appearance if given the chance. We think of ourselves as – too fat, too short, too tall, too bald, too gray, having hair in unwanted places, having crooked teeth, needing glasses, having a nose that isn't the right shape or size, having too many curves, having not enough curves, etc.

In my last year of changes, I have dealt with gray hair and crooked teeth. I haven’t been tempted to try laser surgery to correct my vision, although there are many people out there who swear by it. My skin is a mess because of my predisposition to skin cancer and my stupidity while growing up on the Florida beaches. But there is not much I can do to improve that situation now except be vigilant.

This week I very briefly entertained the idea of having cosmetic surgery to give me a more “balanced” shape. But it didn’t take long to realize that: you have to be anesthetized, a surgeon has to cut your flesh, you have stitches, you have pain that might never go away, but worst of all you end up with something in your body that was never intended to be there. Aside from the fact that this type of surgery in all its forms is totally forbidden in Judaism. So I quickly decided that I was never going there!

I’ve often wondered how people had the nerve to actually go through with cosmetic surgery that was elective – not necessary. I guess you would have to be unbelievably unhappy with your image in the mirror.

One friend offered her wisdom on how to decide about personal improvement projects: if it hurts, don’t do it. I think that is pretty sound advice. Although it I had followed that, I wouldn’t have a mouthful of braces right now.

Part of me feels guilty for having even had thoughts about such extreme measures as cosmetic surgery, but having those thoughts and rejecting them has reinforced my appreciation of my body just as it is and I feel good about that.

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