Perhaps you saw the January 25th cover of People magazine? C’mon you know you read People. If you do not have a subscription, as I do, chances are you saw the cover at the supermarket or the drug store. Anyway, you don’t have to come clean I’ll fill you in. The cover story featured Heidi Montag, a 23 year old actress, who had 10 plastic surgery procedures in one day. I don’t know if this is a cover-worthy story but I did hear a fair amount of chatter over it.
We can all roll our eyes at an already beautiful girl having 10 surgical procedures. My question is, how many other women in their 20s would do the same thing given unlimited funds? As I read the laundry list of operations, I felt fearful for this young woman. I could never dream of doing something like this because I would worry about my nose ending up near my ear, looking like the cat woman or….dying. So funds and fear are barriers for most of us but are we immune from appearance tweaking? I color my hair monthly, go to a really mean Russian eyebrow lady (because she’s the best), will soon be like one of those hairless cats thanks to laser beams and spend the same amount of money it would take to fly to Florida on seasonal facials. So I devote time and money and energy to my appearance and chances are most of you do too.
So where is the line between acceptable and addictive? I was thinking of this when I received a TV clip in which my friend Michelle Yagoda was an expert for a segment on Heidi Montag. Dr. Michelle Yagoda is NYC Facial Plastic Surgeon and Co-Creator of BeautyScoop. For the record, I met Michelle through our second grade sons. I asked her what the red flags were in this situation. She said that “not knowing Heidi, I can only speculate that she has body dyspmorphic disorder (BDD). It is a type of chronic mental illness when you can’t stop thinking about a flaw in your appearance – a flaw that is either minor or imagined. Typically, patients with BDD have multiple surgeries and revisions and are ultimately never satisfied with any of the changes.”
BDD is not something to minimize but there is some overlap with run of the mill insecurity. Maybe the difference between a Heidi and the rest of us has to do with fixation. While I get my fair share of “tune-ups”, I do not think about them incessantly. Or perhaps it has to do with expectations. My goal is not to look like Giselle but I am not 23. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to look like Giselle (I mean c’mon) but that I’m old enough to know it’s not going to happen.