Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Beautiful (According to the Patriarchy) Mommy

A new children's book written by cosmetic surgeon Michael Salzhauer seeks to explain to children the process of cosmetic surgery. But what does it really do? Shames mommies.

It features a perky mother explaining to her child why she's having cosmetic surgery (a nose job and tummy tuck). Naturally, it has a happy ending: mommy winds up "even more" beautiful than before, and her daughter is thrilled.

That's a happy ending? I don't know about anybody else, but I thought every little kid believed their mother to be the prettiest woman in the world, and it's not because she adheres to the patriarchal confines of femininity and beauty. This kind of behavior is often modeled by children, particularly daughters, and it can later develop into poor body image and eating disorders. But it's a happy story! Here's more on the book's description:

"My Beautiful Mommy" is aimed at kids ages four to seven and features a plastic surgeon named Dr. Michael (a musclebound superhero type) and a girl whose mother gets a tummy tuck, a nose job and breast implants. Before her surgery the mom explains that she is getting a smaller tummy: "You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn't fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better." Mom comes home looking like a slightly bruised Barbie doll with demure bandages on her nose and around her waist.

The text doesn't mention the breast augmentation, but the illustrations intentionally show Mom's breasts to be fuller and higher. "I tried to skirt that issue in the text itself," says Salzhauer. "The tummy lends itself to an easy explanation to the children: extra skin and can't fit into your clothes. The breasts might be a stretch for a six-year-old."

The book doesn't explain exactly why the mother is redoing her nose post-pregnancy. Nonetheless, Mom reassures her little girl that the new nose won't just look "different, my dear—prettier!"

So is this book really teaching kids about why women opt for a tummy tuck after pregnancy, or is it merely an advertisement for Dr. Salzhauer's services for the next generation? Now on to the saddest part of the article.

Instead of being uncomfortable about the surgery, [29-year-old mom Gabriela] Acosta says her son actually spoke up about it at a big party. "Did you see her new belly button? It's so pretty!" he said of his mom.

Pretty belly buttons. Yes, I had to read that again too. Because you know your mama ain't shit unless she has the prettiest belly button on the block.

And how many people really believe that Dr. Michael Salzhauer is as buff as the "superhero" cosmetic surgeon called "Dr. Michael" in the story? Someone has issues . . . .

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