I had a dream last night, about a friend of mine who passed away last summer. She was the kind of friend everyone should have in this lifetime. If you needed something, not only would she give you what she had, but go begging on your behalf, just to make sure you were covered. The world could be crumbling beneath her and she would still be charming everyone with her contageous glow. She had a way of making everyone feel like everything was going to be alright. She had been in a toxic marriage for more than ten years, which included some physical and verbal abuse, and her husband abusing drugs, and in the span of six months, went through a major surgery on her back, a car accident that led to a surgery on her neck, and a historectomy. All of which, irritated her husband so much that he saw fit to get fired from his high-paying job and turn to drugs. When she finally got the strength to leave her husband and move herself and her six year old son out on their own, she finally got the chance to heal and focus on herself. She was always a beautiful girl, carmel skin and even richer hair color, big brown eyes, and a smile that lit the room. But her new independence left her feeling she needed improvement, so she decided to have plastic surgery. As soon as she was put under, her heart stopped, and they were not able to revive her. When I first heard the news, I was first sad, then angry. Why on earth would she feel the need for plastic surgery, she was beautiful. But years of verbal abuse, coupled by working in an environment with women twenty years younger, and living in (of all cities) Las Vegas, all added up to her feeling insufficient. And because of that, the world has lost a great soul.
My husband, having been in the body building network in Vegas, has lost two of his body building friends in the last five months, one to suicide and one to heart attack. Which makes me realize that, feeling obligated to look a certain way is universal across the genders. For women, we are on the ultimate persuit to not be fat, for men, to not be skinny. We put all kinds of things in our bodies, searching for some magic shortcut to our "dream" body, and figure the world will be ours once we look the way society tells us we should. There is so much emphasis on body image, that no one is thinking about health. And worse than that, we try to justify the use of things that give a short-term benefit, but do long-term damage to our organs. But more and more, the images we are being shown are of anorexic women and juiced up men. Neither of those things are acheivable through normal, healthy habits, yet that's what we are all striving to acheive. And we are so acceptable of the chemicals it takes to get that way. We tell ourselves that its OK to take these things for a little while, and then once it gets us to our magical place, we'll get off and work really hard to maintain. Truth is, some of these things start doing their damage early on, and you may not reach that magical place. But no one wants to hear about the side effects right, we just want to "fix" the things that make us feel unworthy. And now, plastic surgery is the norm. If you are a thirty year old woman and you haven't gone under the knife yet, you are either a model, or something is wrong with you mentally. Everyone and their brother is signing up for gastric bypass surgery, and they are making it easier and easier for people to get accepted, even people who have less than 100 pounds to lose, so why wouldn't someone who is fat and depressed sign up for a little magic? How about the pounds and pounds of saggy, flopping skin that will soon hang where the fat once was? Not being able to eat more than an ounce or two of food, and most foods make you throw up? Being thin on the outside, but still having the emotional and self esteem problems of your former fat self? Sounds like a drag. And while I realize some people do truly need GB surgery to save their lives, I think far too many people use it as a backup plan, in case they don't want to do it themselves. And it is all because we measure our self-worth by how we look. We are willing to put our lives at risk in order to make our bodies look like someone else's idea of "right" or "good". We need to start focusing on what is important, mental and physical health, so we stop losing so many good people.