Monday, December 01, 2003

A Chinese woman is about to receive a complete facial -- cosmetic surgery, that is. This might sound like a very exciting moment in her life, and no doubt it will be. However, something bothers me about this, and it's been bothering me ever since I noticed the increasing popularity of personal appearance-altering actions in our -- and now, apparently, the Chinese -- society (breast implants being probably the most egregious example, although cosmetic surgery can be more extreme in some cases).

Those who alter their natural appearance in order to be perceived as more socially desirable are behaving deceptively. They want to be accepted on the basis of an appearance which is not actually "theirs". You may ask, what's wrong with that? The problem that I see is that, no matter what you do to yourself, your children inherit your genetic appearance, not your altered appearance. If we condition ourselves, individually and collectively, to prefer an unnatural appearance to a natural one, we doom our progeny to an unpleasant choice: self-alteration or ostracization. This could, in the extreme, even lead to self-loathing.

Now, don't flood me with hate mail about how I don't look like a caveman ergo I'm a hypocrite; I'm not a hard-liner on this issue. I just want you to consider this perspective.


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