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Opinion

Quirks keep us who we are

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October 13, 2006

There’s a show on E! I like to watch called “Dr. 90210.” It is a reality show about plastic surgery, in which two or three doctors from a pool of regular Beverly Hills surgeons allow us to tag along for the duration of a willing participant’s journey toward an elevated self-esteem or bigger tips at their stripper job.

Almost every episode features a breast augmentation, while other procedures include nose jobs, liposuction, scrotum reduction, chin implants and a bunch of others. The procedures are shown in graphic detail with nipples and genitalia blurred out, but the inside of a breast or nose are spread with shiny forceps for anyone to take a gander. After the procedure, cameras zoom in on the groggy, swollen patient, who groans in agony as the medications lose their effectiveness.

After watching an episode of a plastic surgery show, I don’t see how people willingly subject themselves to that kind of experience in order to be a little more pleasing in appearance to others. There are a few people who are disfigured from congenital defects or from an accident, which requires the physical invasion in order to walk down the street without receiving stares. That kind of attention can be more painful than any surgical procedure. But to have a metal rod forced under your skin and jammed around so you don’t jiggle when you walk, is beyond my comprehension.

A lot of actresses, and actors too, have had surgical work, though they keep it under wraps for the most part. Those who admit to having it done blame public expectations for making surgical intervention an essential part of having a public face. And in some cases this is true. I have heard many comments from people on how this star is fat or how that one has ugly teeth. It’s an ugly side of human nature, but we find triumph in other people’s imperfections.

In the past decade, more concern has been given for the need to be perfect, and acceptance of variety has been promoted. Fashion shows are even banning fashion models who are too skinny. Magazines for women encourage women to embrace their bodies and find clothes that accentuate the positive. Interestingly enough, the girls in the photos for those magazines, looking stylish as they frolic in parks and snuggle with some shirtless guy, are doing just as much as the models in the Dior ads to make readers feel inadequate.

I’m not sure what the appeal is of “Dr. 90210” for me. Obviously I’m against plastic surgery in most cases, and seeing people unhappy with themselves makes me sad and a little angry at societal expectations. Shows such as this seem to reinforce how important physical appearance is to people. After watching the show, I guess I appreciate even more the features that make me and others unique. Each are a reminder that real happiness does not come from anesthesia and silicone, but in the pride of being an individual.

Cassie Rodgers is a student at UW-River Falls.