Sometimes I pick battles that I can’t win.
Sometimes I point things out that probably shouldn’t be pointed out.
Sometimes I can’t help myself, when perhaps I should help myself.
This may well be one of those times. But I’m OK with that.
There’s a website called OC Mom Blog that’s, for many purposes, quite excellent. It’s a tremendous resource for local activities, and keeps parents (like myself) up to date on what’s going on in the area. So, truly, before I go off on what will likely be a pretty negative little rant, I say “Bravo!” to the public service inclinations of a quality blog.
That being said, something about OC Mom Blog very much bothers me, and after thinking about this for some time, I wanna vent.
Now, one of the drawbacks of living in Orange County is that it is, in many ways, a bubble. The sun is generally shining, the skies are blue, the palm trees wave in the gentle winds. And, if one’s not careful, he/she can easily forget that there’s an entire world out there. Hell, my kids have friends who, literally, have never been to Los Angeles—which is less than an hour away. That’s both crazy and telling of a place that cocoons and soothes and nuzzles its inhabitants. Orange County can be a warm, cozy blanket on a cold day. But, man, it’s also a whole lot of sheltered.
Anyhow, OC Mom is run by Shelby Barone, a lifelong Orange County resident. And one of the things Shelby—a married mother with children—has repeatedly promoted on her site is her breast lift (aka: mastopexy). Apparently Shelby wasn’t happy with her breasts after the kids were all nursed out, so she went in for the surgery and—her words—”a mastopexy will change your life for the better. You’ll feel good wearing a swimsuit again, and you’ll feel as good about your body as you did before having children.”
And, I suppose, that’s all well and good. I’ve never had saggy breasts, but one can imagine that’d be sorta annoying. Right?
More recently, though, Shelby blogged extensively about her … Liposuction. See, after the breast surgery she devoted herself to a “clean diet”—and while I’m not entirely sure what that means, it didn’t go as planned. Wrote Shelby: “I did this for almost a year. I didn’t gain any weight, but I also didn’t lose any weight. I was completely frustrated with the possibility that I might not ever see the body that I wanted to see in the mirror again. I had noticed that I was never in any of the pictures on my camera roll anymore, and have practically disappeared from my Instagram page. I wanted that to change.”
According to Shelby, while having her “fillers done” (I’m guessing this means Botox), she met with a doctor about Liposuction, and walked away convinced the doctor would, “help me to achieve the body that I so desired.” She then wrote: “I can’t wait to be able to play with my kids on the beach without having to wear shorts and a tank top. I can’t wait to be able to wear cute jeans without a baggy shirt covering my fluff. I can’t wait to take a picture without using my arm to cover my stomach. I can’t wait to feel good about the body that I look at in the mirror every morning.”
So she had the Liposuction. And I reckon she’s happy, because I haven’t heard otherwise. But, if I’m being 100-percent honest, I’m sorta repulsed. Here are the reasons:
• 1. If you look closely (v-e-r-y closely), all of the Liposuction and breast enhancement posts are sponsored content. Meaning, I presume, CosmetiCare either did the procedures for free or at a drastic discount. Which is pretty fucking huge, A. Because this shit ain’t cheap; and B. You’re telling people they should pay for a service you didn’t actually pay for. It’s like me getting free $700 seats to Nuggets-Lakers and saying, “You should TOTALLY buy these seats! It’s sooooo worth it!”
• 2. On her website, Shelby posted a link to an MLK Day of Service, and included the relatively forgettable quote, “What are you doing for others?” When I think of MLK, however, the first words that enter my lobe are, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” And, truly, that’s what I kept pondering while reading Shelby’s words. Botox. Breast job. Liposuction. On and on and on and on. And the question is, why? Why are you so dissatisfied? Why do you feel the need to look perfect for the world? Why do you need to cover your stomach for photographs? Hell, we all have flaws. All of us. My shoulders are annoyingly hairy. My hairline isn’t getting thicker. I have almost no eyebrows. And, sure, I could surgically enhance them all. I could do it, then have people say, “Wow! What a bushy hairline!” But … why? What for? For compliments? For reassurances? I actually don’t get it. And, yes, I know there are physical pressures on women that men don’t face. But the one thing I don’t want is for my daughter to feel like she needs to physically put up a front; to physically dazzle, even if it means going through costly invasive procedures. If her self worth is determined by people saying, “You look amazing!”—I have failed as a parent. Failed miserably.
Shelby writes often about shedding the guilt that comes with all these surgeries. She says she shouldn’t be ashamed—and I agree. If this is what you wanna do, hey, it’s your body. But what is this promoting? Strength—no. Empowerment—definitely not. It’s saying that how you look should—and does—determine not merely how you feel, but what you’re worth. And that is a tragically dispiriting message to send people. Especially young girls.
• 3. Last one.
Earlier today Shelby posted this on her Instagram account …
And … I … wanted … to … scream.
See, this is the shit that drives me to drink. Social media is a disease in and of itself—the need for thumbs up and smily faces and affirmation. Seriously, it motivates us (myself included) far more than it should. And here you go—WENT FROM A SIZE 14 TO A SIZE 6 AND LOST 38 POUNDS IN THE PAST FIVE WEEKS.
It’s like winning the lottery and bragging about your riches, when those around you spent the last 30 years working in the mines. Yes, you went from a size 14 to a size 6. Yes, you lost 38 pounds. But you didn’t do an ounce of the work. I didn’t see you in the gym. I didn’t see you running the trails. Fuck, you didn’t even have to pay for it.
So what, exactly, are you bragging about?
You know, outside of this bubble that is Orange County, there are people starving. There are people living in violence. There’s death, decay, hardship, real pain. It’s there, it’s fierce, it’s soul-sucking and life-ruining.
Sometimes, however, living here makes that hard to remember.
Sometimes, I want to scream.