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21 August 2006 @ 10:24 am
Steve Yegge writes random rants, often on technical topics. Today's (nontechnical) topic, oddly enough, is plastic surgery, and oddly enough, he's all for it.

I'm pretty neutral on plastic surgery. But he makes some great points about what things are and aren't socially acceptable that I like a lot. So I'm linking to him :-)
The Water Seeker: grimtatplymouth on August 21st, 2006 06:13 pm (UTC)
Some of his points about the social acceptable vs not are kinda off-base though. Like, um, if I got surgery on my labia I would be talking about that to exactly as many people as I currently talk to about my labia. Which is to say, not bloody many.

And I don't see how the growing acceptability of tattoos and piercings has ANYTHING to do with a lack of plausible deniability. That just doesn't make a damned bit of sense. It has become acceptable the same way any practice that was originally part of a fringe culture became acceptable - people less far out on the fringe took a chance on it, showed the world that they could get a degree from a top notch college and hold down a decent job even though they had ink in their skin, and it continued from there.

I don't think tattoos and plastic surgery actually have all that much in common anyway - the motivations behind them are usually in opposition. One gets ink to stand out, to be LESS normal, to express a unique aspect of their personality (yes, gang tattoos and the like are an exception to this but I don't think that's the kind the author is referring to when he talks about tattoos becoming acceptable). One usually gets plastic surgery to fit in and to achieve some cultural norm of beauty. When people start getting plastic surgery to put bajoran nose ridges on their faces or getting pointed elf-ears THEN I will be impressed :)
Noahangelbob on August 21st, 2006 06:29 pm (UTC)
[Re: your labia] Well, sure, but what if you got collagen lip implants? Are your lips taboo?

showed the world that they could get a degree from a top notch college and hold down a decent job even though they had ink in their skin

*This* is what has to do with plausible deniability. How many people have done the same thing after getting labia surgery? Well, we don't know...

One usually gets plastic surgery to fit in and to achieve some cultural norm of beauty.

I'd argue that the goal of most such plastic surgery is still not "average". Presumably in the vast majority of cases (and I'm not counting, like, burn reconstruction here) the goal is to wind up significantly better than average.

So actually the goal *is* to stand out, just not in the same way.

How, and how much one wishes to stand out can vary a great deal between piercings or tattoos as well - think of ear piercing versus lip ring versus that guy who makes himself look like a lizard :-) Or tattooed little sayings in thin script (common in this area, especially on Latino folk) versus an anchor with "Mom" versus, well, that guy who makes himself look like a lizard.
The Water Seekerplymouth on August 21st, 2006 06:48 pm (UTC)
[Re: your labia] Well, sure, but what if you got collagen lip implants? Are your lips taboo?

I really can't answer this because I can't imagine ever getting lip implants because my lips are perfect and no surgery could improve upon them. In any case, my point was that while some of his examples were reasonable, some of them were way off base. Any taboos about genital modification have a lot more to do with the taboos about genitals than taboos about modification. It dilutes his point to even mention them.

*This* is what has to do with plausible deniability.

No - the plausable deniability I am talking about was this comment: "Plus it's hard to lie about them and say you accidentally shoved a steel bolt through your lip and then sat naked on an inverted permanent-ink design."

I'd argue that the goal of most such plastic surgery is still not "average".

Welcome to Lake Wobegon where are the children are above average... No, the goal isn't to be average and I never said that - I said normal. Normal is not the same as average. Our cultural idea of a "normal" family structure is lived by far less than half of actual people and yet that doesn't stop people from striving to achieve it. Or considering it normal.
Anthonyterpsichoros on August 21st, 2006 09:50 pm (UTC)
I think a significant part of the taboo about cosmetic surgery to improve one's looks stems from the same source as public revulsion over the use of steroids in sports. People see it as making risky, permanent changes to their body for what they perceive as an "unfair" advantage. Aside from the cultural stigma of "unfair" advantage, there is also significant cultural opposition to taking large risks, even for large rewards.

Getting reconstructive surgery doesn't endow one with an "unfair" advantage, since you're just replacing what was there before. If the reconstructive surgery included enhancement, I expect there'd be some negative reaction - imagine how people, in general, would react to someone who had breast cancer, and had her breasts "restored" to larger than they were before the cancer.

RK or Lasik to bring one's eyes to "normal" doesn't confer an "unfair" advantage, so it's not taboo. I don't know if doctors will, or even can, do RK/Lasik/etc to bring your vision to 20/15 or better, though better than 20/20 vision is not a significant advantage in most day-to-day human competition. If it is possible, I suspect it will be mildly taboo, and that MLB will ban it for baseball players.
KJBcapnkjb on August 21st, 2006 06:57 pm (UTC)
I dunno, I can see his point, but on the other hand, the undercurrents of "you're not good enough" that pervade much plastic surgery just don't do it for me.

Of course, maybe that's his point - too much emphasis is put on that aspecet, and not enough on the whole "consenting adult" aspect.

But I dunno, I still don't think that plastic surgery is the awesome Futuristic Thing To Do that he kind of makes it out to be.

Yes, I was stupid enough to post on his blog.
KJBcapnkjb on August 21st, 2006 06:59 pm (UTC)
Besides, boob jobs and lip surgeries would mean a big likelihood that I'd lose sensitivity in those regions, and quite honestly that's not something I'd be into doing. If other people want to do them, fine, but I'm still going to giggle at them for thinking they needed to do it. If that makes me bad, so be it, I guess.

I mean, seriously, did Meg Ryan need to do that to her lips? No. Does she think she looks better? If she does, I'm impressed.
KJBcapnkjb on August 21st, 2006 09:28 pm (UTC)
Oh man, he took it down!
Noahangelbob on August 21st, 2006 09:40 pm (UTC)
Wacky! You're right. Guess he didn't like the response since the previous posts are still up.
Krissyrightkindofme on August 21st, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm denied. *cry*
Jennifernoirem on August 23rd, 2006 10:12 pm (UTC)
Jennifernoirem on August 23rd, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
I've had a few moles removed (not nearly enough!) and at the time, when I had to decide between wearing band-aids or having small open sores on my face, it wasn't something I wanted to talk about or admitt to. But I -hated- the moles, I -hated- having them on my face (well, except the one on my left cheek, but it's alone and that makes it a beauty mark not an ugly mole like the rest). I hate pictures of myself with those ugly spots maring my face. Clearing it up for a couple hundred dollars? Sign me up. Slight scaring? a lot easier to cover with makeup. Laser hair removal? Lasic eye surgery? best thing ever. Teeth bleaching? As soon as I have disposable income I will be disposing it. I don't hate my appearance, but I hate aspects of it and if I can throw money at that problem and fix it, then it's money well spent.

As for bigger changes, boob jobs, pec implants, changing the shape of your eyelids, well, those aren't parts of my body that I obsess about. But it would be hypocritical of me to say that my small changes are okay and your big changes aren't. If you think bigger tits would make you happier, guess what, they probably will. Other people may think you're beautiful the way you are, but if you don't believe it it doesn't matter. If having more hair will make you feel more confident about yourself then you really will be more attractive to other people

course, "my boyfriend wants me to have bigger breasts" isn't in the same league.
Noahangelbob on August 24th, 2006 06:48 pm (UTC)
I wondered if more hair would make me more confident about myself. But then I realized that it would still take far more work to get several more inches of height and a big beat-able chest, along with coal-black skin and a resounding echoing hoot.

So I just gave up on it.