In Defense of Silicone

You may be wondering why I, a fat black chick, spend time championing the cause of (mostly) rich white women who choose to have plastic surgery. It’s not because I disagree with the point that the choice to alter your body surgically can be informed by internalization of societal beauty standards. It’s also not because I feel like having, say, 10 operations done in a day is a positive choice. It’s because of things like this article, which is just so blatantly dehumanizing it’s impressive. I understand that it’s hard not to pass judgment on celebrities who get very visible plastic surgery done. I get that you’re itching to hate. But denigrating a woman by saying she’s a “Fembot, a species of walking, talking Barbie dolls” — that brand of body snarking smacks of sexist undertones.

Again, I DON’T HAVE AN AFFINITY FOR CELEBRITIES. In fact, I really hate having to even see Us Weekly and its ilk while I’m in line at CVS. I just know that when we go down that path of judgment, we all lose. For example, I’m personally offended by this statement:

Behold the rise of the bionic woman! Part human, part machine, she is at once sexy and scary, delicate and indestructible. Can she shoot bullets out of that heaving bosom? Best not to find out.

As someone with a naturally heaving bosom, I’m wondering if I, too, could be accused of harboring weapons inside my breasts. Is it just silicone that makes a larger bustline “scary”? Do you lose your humanity when you alter your body surgically? If we feel these women are making such reprehensible choices that we need to come up with a new species to classify them as, does that then make it okay to deconstruct their bodies down to the last nip and tuck?

Since we can agree that the choice to have plastic surgery is not made in a societal vacuum, it follows that we need to fight the unfair beauty standards that may have led these women to feel that they weren’t good enough, or pretty enough, or thin enough as they were — NOT vilify them because they may be unfortunate casualties of our culture’s beauty wars. As someone who fights for my right not to be subject to society’s ideals of what is attractive or what body type is acceptable, I just can’t co-sign tearing women down like that. That’s why I care.e

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  • Tracy

    It comes as no surprise that a woman wrote that article. How do so many women not get that bashing another woman's body just keeps the cycle going? Why do they think it's okay for them to do it, but raise holy hell when a man does it?

  • Heather Flescher

    I think it's because we're taught to see life as a zero-sum game. Every time the so-called "fembot" women are given something because of the way they look, we're supposed to think they took it away from the rest of us. Articles like that one remind me just how far it's possible to go in demonizing other women. Robots with breast-guns? Yeah, and they probably boil bunnies in their spare time. Ugh.

  • wriggles

    Why do they think it’s okay for them to do it, but raise holy hell when a man does it?

    Probably because they feel that their critique comes from a different ideological and personal place than men.

    One of the best ways to fight "unfair beauty standards", is not to yield to them.

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      One of the best ways to fight “unfair beauty standards”, is not to yield to them.

      I agree, but one of the best ways to fight "unfair beauty standards" is NOT dehumanizing those who make a different choice. It's not about how you personally feel. I mean, if you're cool with people doing the same to you, it wouldn't be hypocritical for you to do that. But I imagine most women aren't.

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  • wriggles

    I mean, if you’re cool with people doing the same to you, it wouldn’t be hypocritical for you to do that.

    True, and I'm guessing we could agree that this wouldn't necessarily make it right for me to still do it to others, even if I wasn't being a hypocrite!

    I suppose in the case of cosmetic surgery, a complicating factor for me is who is dehumanizing who?

    If you see CS as "self improvment" etc, you may be shocked to be called a "fembot" and offended by the term. But your offense is not necessarily sacred, what are you offended by?

    You could be seen as having acted on the disembodied ideal of perfection that is sold endlessly to women on yourself and someone has merely pointed this out to you.

    Calling you this term might be about their offence at both the ideal itself and the idea of your submission to it and/ or submitting to it themselves.

    I suppose to answer about whether I'd be cool with it or not would depend on both on the nature of my actions and of the critique itself.

    I'd have to try and take each critique on it's merits.

  • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

    Haha. That's a good one. I wouldn't mind having guns in my boobs if I did that.

  • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

    Great post on FGM, really detailed.