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IS THERE AN EXCHANGE RATE FOR NATURE'S COIN?
Do you think yourself beautiful? Are you pleased or, at least, at peace with your appearance? If not, what would you do to remedy it? Apply make-up? Straighten or curl or color your hair? Whiten your teeth? Lay yourself bare before a knife to correct what nature deemed your lot?

Remove, add, lengthen, shorten, dye, reduce, enlarge, change.

Catching part of a documentary on the increase of cosmetic surgery in China, I was appalled and mesmerized by the young girls who were undergoing operations to lengthen their legs. 6 months of pain and re-learning completely how to walk (no mention made of running, jumping, skipping, swimming) in metal brackets bolted to their shins to gain 8 centimeters: 3 inches. The Chinese are a short people, small of stature; neat. 3 inches doesn't seem, in the long run, to be enough of an incentive yet the numbers are staggering and increasing daily.

Have you had an operation to improve your appearance in some way? If you have, why did you? I'm genuinely curious. I haven't, though I've toyed in the past with the idea of getting a breast reduction...until realizing that simply losing weight would do the job for me. I don't consider myself beautiful, but overall, I've never been bothered by or dissatisfied with my appearance (apart from the weight issues) and the fact that I like myself may have more to do with it than even I suspect. Having never bought into the beauty myths of perfection, I find it hard to relate to this yearning to be something else, to become someone different or better or more perfect. Do you think liking yourself enters into it, actually? I suppose you can like yourself just fine and still wish for improvements.

I'm not saying any of this to fish for compliments. I think I'm pretty okay in the looks department, though I've never slain them in the aisles or sunk 1000 ships. I do color my hair, but only to cover the grey. It's the same shade, more or less, that it's always been. It's been permed once or twice in the far-far-distance past of the Seventies when such things were trendy, but I have no need or desire to do so now, since Barky came to life.

I'm not really talking about the self-esteem issues that come with being overweight, either. I think that particular condition throws everything else out of whack. It skews everything you think about yourself and the way you feel you are perceived by others. Aside from that, however, why is it so hard to be happy with yourself the way you are? We see beauty all around us every day, and though aspiration and emulation are not necessarily bad things, why is it so difficult to be content with admiration of others instead? We see ugliness, too; plainness and those that are simply forgettable. Is that what it is? The urge to be seen and remembered, if only for the impression our looks give?

***

If you have a moment, please put in some positive energy and vibes for a dear friend of mine who is undergoing heart surgery today.
 thoughtful
mood: thoughtful
music: Chantal Kreviazuk—Grace


Comments

If I could change one thing about myself, it wouldn't be appearance related. I'd like to be able to get by with less sleep, to stay up later than 9:30 or 10:00 PM comfortably.

Har! Me, too.

First let me tell you how hard I laughed when I read, "sunk a 1000 ships." I believe the phrase is, "the face that launched a 1000 ships," but your way is MUCH funnier. It's like a yo mama joke, like, "Yo mama SO UGLY, if she was Helen of Troy, she would have SUNK a thousand ships!" And now I'm cracking myself up. I'm so predictable.

Anyway, I've never considered surgery either, because I'm not ugly, I'm of normal height (or slightly below) and shape, and I have large breasts. I've never even considered surgery for being fat, although I'm in The Cult so it's obviously something I'm not happy with. But, I can't even begin to think what it must feel like to hate your nose, or your height, or your boobs. To really really hate them, to really feel bad about yourself because of it. I just can't imagine how that must feel. I like what I see in the mirror every day, so if someone needs plastic surgery to feel that way about themselves, I can't say as I would stop them.

I wondered if anyone would get that! :D

(Anonymous)

I'm a guy so I don't count. Still.

The women in my life have occasionally tried to mess with my appearance (my daughter tried to put highlights in my hair and ended up bleaching me completely; wore a hat for a month), and a couple of times I tried to even out my gray beard with some chemicals but got too lazy and just shaved it.

As far as weight, my feeling these days is that less is better for me just for the sake of my joints. Comfort and health are far more important issues to me now than vanity.

And you ARE beautiful! And you look 10 years younger than you are (everyone at Beth's house agreed after you left) at least, so no worries for you.

Chuck

"I'm a guy so I don't count."

It makes me sad to read this. Not because I want you or other guys to be insecure about your appearance and measure your self worth as a human being, but because, of course, it is only us females who are told continuously by society that ours is. Blah, no matter where you turn this message is always there, repeating itself quietly in the corners.

My mom and grandma both look 10 years younger, too and have for years, which is a comfort as I move upwards on the age scale. Nice to know I've got that going for me! :D

Aside from the weight issue, I am fairly pleased with my looks. I hated my red hair when I was a kid, because it drew attention when attention was not wanted. I didn't like strangers talking to me in the grocery store about my hair. Which happened. A lot.

But I had a teacher once who predicted that I would love my hair when I grew up, exactly because it would set me apart. And I do, because it does.

I have a lot of freckles. I have always liked them. I think they go well with the hair.

I am short, but I've always liked that. I always liked being shorter than guys I dated. I felt cute and teensy and protectable. I've never wished to be taller.

Except, now it occurs to me, I would like to be a little longer in the torso department, just to make manufactured clothes fit better.

I, too, have wished for a breast reduction. I've always been big up top. When I was in college, and weighed a lot less, the big boobs were kind of a YOWZA thing, and I liked that. But really, they just get in my way. However, I've come to the same conclusion that you did, that losing weight all over will go pretty far towards the reduction I want.

Oh! I almost forgot. I would like to have longer fingernail beds. Mine are short, and it makes my fingernails look less elegant than they could be. Do they have surgery for that? Ha ha.

I used to be SO envious of my sister's gorgeous curly red hair (plus she's taller, too), but I never considered coloring mine to make it red like that. I also always liked being short. Although I'm not SUPER short, so maybe if I was I would understand. It seems awfully easy to find at least one thing that one that one dislikes about oneself to focus on, instead of coming to the conclusion that one thing does not really detract from the overall view :)

I never thought looks were that important when I had what I needed to maintain my self image in that department. I was a big guy, could hold my space, be confident and look at anyone in the eye and smile and they would smile back. Now I am getting eaten up by cancer and an interesting development is the deterioration of my body and looks... maybe the opposite of what one goes through when they get plastic surgery. My muscles have gotten puny, my face becomes more sunken, I move with difficulty and my stomach is swollen and distended and I can no longer completely hide it with loose fitting clothes. When I go out I don't look out at others as confidently, feeling they will think I look gross or at best wonder "what is wrong with that guy." I used to walk confidently through the world, and now I step back and try not to get in other peoples way. This is an interesting experience, adjusting to such rapid change in appearance. It involves some tears, but also there is some relief in acceptance... and the realization that others have dealt this hand their whole lives.

I can't imagine what it's like to go through something like that, and to experience such a drastic reversal in self-image. I suppose not caring what other people think is much easier when you have confidence in yourself and your appearance.

The issues I have with my body are mostly comfort related. I wish my hair was naturally curly so that I could just wash and go and have it look the way I wanted and have it stay out of my way, without need of constant trimming.

I used to be very comfortable with my breasts until I had kids. The results of having my boobs go from a B to a DD overnight, then shrink down to an A when I was done nursing, twice, has left me with flat and saggy boobs which no bra can wrangle into place comfortably. I don't know what the surgical solution would be. I don't want them bigger, I just want the stretched out skin to snap back into shape and lift the whole business up. When you're on the flat side, it sucks to have to hold your boobs when you run up the stairs to keep them from flapping around.

I would like to have all my moles removed. I hate them. All of them. Hate, hate, hate. Not because they're ugly, I think a lot of people probably don't even notice them. I just can't stand them, the way they feel, the way they disrupt smooth skin, the way they are such a temptation to Anders to touch and poke and pick at. That feeling squicks me out in such a huge way.

Why don't you have the surgery to remove the moles? You didn't start out with them, so I can imagine that having them as part of your life now is really a drag. That's something I would do, I think. I sometimes see people with facial moles or growths and wonder why on earth they HAVEN'T removed them, since it seems to be a fairly simple and not so expensive procedure. Is it just a getting-around-to-it thing? That's what it would be with me! :D

Yes, getting around to it and cost. Even if I only have the co-pay, it's still $40 a pop and they can't just sand blast them all off of me at once. ;-) I'll get to it eventually but it's rather low on the list of things I need to do so there they sit.

Lengthening ones legs...it never ceases to amaze me what people find to be really unhappy about to the extent that they would be willing to undergo major amounts of pain.

I'm not obsessive about my appearance. I'm generally happy with the way I look. That said, my teeth are very stained and I have considered having them whitened. It's not a major priority and it doesn't bother me too, too much that they are miscolored. However, if ever I have some extra cash lying around, one day I might treat myself to a whiter smile. We'll see.

The x-ray pictures they showed were just HORRIBLE. I can't imagine what would possess them to do such things. They cut the bone in half and anchor it apart with bolts and wait for it to grow back together. Sounds like a recipe for major disaster later in life to me. And I wanted to belt the doctors one. All men, and VERY smug. :(

I like the face I have. I do colour my hair because I was generally a dark redhead and when the grey started coming in, it drabbed out the colour and made the hair and my face look dull and old! My hairdresser suggested if I started putting blond streaks in it, it would brighten everything up and now I'm pretty much a blonde. The hairdresser also says I am still only about 30% grey at the roots. Other than that, I don't mess with perfection! If I lost weight right now, everything would probably just fall in and I'd gain the appearance of not just my 58 years, but probably 10 more added on.

I suppose it would make a difference on how you lost weight. If you just dropped it without toning and getting in shape, it would probably be as you describe.

(Anonymous)
I love being around you

Liz, you do have the best sense of confidence and "relax" about yourself and I love being in your presence as a result-- you are easy and comfortable in your skin and it makes it so wonderful to be with you. This is a rare thing, I find-- most people do not have that core energy.

I'm glad I didn't see the documentary you described-- I'd have to buy a gun and shoot my television and then how would I watch the finale of Top Chef?

~bp

Re: I love being around you

Personally, I would save the gun to use on those doctors, not to mention the fathers and male acquaintances of what must be way too many woman in China. :( I hope they're not ALL like that.

Nope, I don't guess I'd change a thing. What would I whine about if I did?

Oh, I love this entry and this entire discussion. It even took my mind away from my poor injured grown up son for a few minutes. But I don't really feel focused enough to make the kind of thoughtful or funny reply that I would like to make.
I agree with what so many have already said. Urrrrgh & grrr! about the leg lengthening. OMG!!??

And in general the acceptance of our bodies. As you know, I did a major dental change, but that was primarily a health push, and as I look in the mirror I sometimes miss my funny old smile.
I have boob and belly issues and aging arms, and am continually amazed at the changes I see in the mirror most days, but I don't think there is anything I would change.
Some of the cosmetic surgery out there I think is barbaric, but I wouldn't dane to judge most of it for another person. (But leg lengthening??)
I had a friend who did the breast reduction thing. She was a skinny pole of a person who had to wear two support bras all the time and suffered back aches. I've lost touch with her, but she seemed to have less back trouble after the surgery and I don't know how the new image affected her. She did a lot of research and soul searching.

I'm trying to think about any body thing I would change and after dredging my mind's recesses I came up with my toenails. Yes, my toenails. The quick is very close to the end of my toenails on my big toes. What this means is a lot of holey socks. Even new socks. Quickly.
The toenails are too long even right after I trim them. I don't really like that. But then again, they are my father's toes. And how would I recognize my feet if I changed my toenails?

Re: Nope, I don't guess I'd change a thing. What would I whine about if I did?

I have a couple of cousins who had breast reductions and who raved about them and the results. I have back aches as well, but even so I know they less when I lose weight, so I sort of figure I'm doing it to myself, you know?

And I love your comment about "how would you recognize your feet"...exactly!

(Anonymous)

I never thought relating superficial stories about my body issues would some how become a form of escapism from my current (alarmingly real) woes and worries, but here I am...

So right off the bat, I mostly like the way I look. But I hate my upper arms. Even when I was a teeny weeny thing, I hated my upper arms. I would love to wear a tank top with confidence and not be consumed by thoughts of wagging arm flesh. And I wish my neck was long and swanlike and elegant. It's not freakish, but it's kinda stumpy.

I too have considered breast reduction as even at optimum weight, my breasts are on the large sihe. I have never been able to understand why anyone would get breast implants. Just don't get that. But it's funny how my views on that have changed as I age. I used to loathe the attention my chest received, it made me very self-conscious and embarrassed. But now? I've grown to sort of ...erm... enjoy them somehow. I guess I simply care less about what other people think and naturally, as I've aged, the ogling that made me so uncomfortable before has diminished.

My weight has fluctuated a lot over the years, though has been stable and comfortable for the last four or five. I'd like to lose five lbs, maybe 10... but it's not a burning issue for me. Being toned and healthy is more important to me now than being skinny. Health is everything.

I like my face, I like my eyes. I like that I look younger than I am. for me I think a lot of it has to do with the fact I've never been a toothpick and I have full round cheeks. Catherine Denevue once said something to the affect of "at some point, you have to chose between your face and your ass." I chose my face. I can't see my ass.

All that said, I'm not one of those natural women. I like make up. I wear it daily. You'd have to get up pretty early in the morning to catch me completely sans make up. But make up isn't something I do for anyone else... its something I do for me. I like applying it. I like playing with it. It's like painting. For me, make up is just fun. It makes me feel both more child like and more adult... maybe because I wasn't allowed to wear make up at all until I was 15 when everyone else on the planet (or so it seemed to me at the time) was wearing it by 13.

I'm a natural blonde, but I'm not naturally THIS blonde (anymore... I was when I was a kid, but my hair starting darkening when I was about 12 or so). I have been a red head which I kinda liked, but found hard to maintain, I have been a brunette, I've been every possible shade of blonde there is... I even had almost black hair for a period of two weeks. But I just don't feel like ME with hair darker than a medium blonde.

I kinda hover in the middle somewhere... I like to enhance my appearance as best I can, but I can't be bothered with things like manicures and fancy facials and stuff (though I do paint my nails if I'm really bored). And I would never let my fears about my appearance get in the way of a good time. My nails are a mess, my hair is often wild and wooly, my legs are scratched and bruised year round from scrambling around in the woods ... but I'm almost NEVER without mascara and I hate having dirty hair more than I can even say.

And I'm pretty sure this is something passed down from my mom... who just made me promise an hour ago that I would find some kind of dry shampoo and ensure that she was clean and coiffed during her surgery & hospital stay. She told me that if I have any hopes for her recovery, I will ensure that her hair is as clean as possible, her teeth are brushed, her lipstick is on and that she smells nice. It's sort of odd, being repeatedly prompted to promise your mother you won't let her get all "stinky," but the thing is I really think it's true.She's super tough and a survivor in every sense of the word, but lipstick and a clean head of hair is her armor and she needs it to fight the good fight like Popeye needs spinach.

All that said, aside from breast reduction, I can't imagine undergoing surgery to correct anything that wasn't medically required. And I'm horrified by the whole Hollywood Botox thing.

xoxo wee

My imagination simply fails to supply me with an image of you with BLACK hair. And I can TOTALLY understand your mom. You put it very well: it is an armour and a way to present oneself.

I loved your comment about choosing your face because, after all, you can't see your ass! :D

(Anonymous)

good grief. my comment is longer than your whole post. Get your own blog, why don'tcha Wee? :D

I have seen a documentary like this on tv before and was stunned, amazed and appalled (is this the correct spelling for this word?? it looks so weird this way heh) by it.

Thanks for writing yet again a post that makes me think about stuff. It is one of the reasons why I love reading your blog heh. Did I ever tell you I actually bought one of your books of Lulu?:)

Will try and comment more lenghty on this post when I feel more alive heh.

You did? Buy my book, I mean? I'm very flattered! Thank you :) And yes, you spelled appalled right. But don't look at it too long...it's one of those words that loses its meaning if you think about it for too long! :D

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