Wednesday, 7 August 2013


A few weeks ago I was put on a plane and shipped off to my favorite rival city to facilitate a commercial for a well-known international beauty product. Naturally, I accepted the challenge, only this time I wouldn't be leaving without my conditioner and Zam-buk. The TVC in question was part of a local Woman's Day campaign and focused on issues around body image; the parts we love and the bits we wish we could effortlessly reconstruct. Black, white and cappuccino-flavoured lovelies from all over Jozi lined up to share their perspective on beauty. One hundred and fifty-seven vox pops of natural beauties later, we found ourselves at Tasha's (pronounced Teshas; like Ke$ha), a restaurant for the modern day coo-girl to enjoy early breaky's and boozy lunches without judgement or prejudice.

As the crew and I scanned the shopping center for our next possible interviewee, I realised that our current location was unlikely to present the client's desired demographic. We seemed to have landed in Silicone Valley, where the previously fresh-faced talent had been replaced with pinched expressions of permanent astonishment and joker smiles a mile and a half wide trying hard to muster some kind of emotion while enjoying conversation, no-carb lunches and low-cal Sauvignon blanc. The Hyde Parkian prawn sitting directly across from base camp had so much Botulism injected into her face that you could literally perform the Ice capades on her five-head. And those lips? Let's just say that in the event of a water landing, no yellow flotation device would be required.

As women get older and as more emphasis is placed on appearance, the age old question of whether or not to have plastic surgery begins to creep up more frequently. Should we? Shouldn't we? Is ageing gracefully "like, so five years ago"? We're always competing against youth in some way or another, whether it's over a man's love and attention or a job that favours the vibrancy of a 12-year old bubble-head, and while there may be several benefits and reasons for one to want to alter their physical appearance, I couldn't help but wonder why it had become so acceptable. Has society finally vetoed the notion of loving oneself just the way we are or are there perhaps greater, more psychological motives behind these extreme makeovers? Breast enlargements, collagen, tummy tucks. Can a few trips to Dr. 90210 really boost more than just one's visage?

The story of SpongeBob Square Boobs is a tragic one that started off on the vicious playground of a certain Southern Suburbian high school. Roberta had always known that she was different from the other girls and the evil bitches that she confronted on a daily basis made damned sure she knew it. Oros, Dumbo, Brace-Face. These were just a few names that her horrid peers would taunt her with every time she walked down the hall. She was not pale nor skinny like the other girls, nor was she bright-eyed and fair headed. On the plus side, she thought that being slightly plump would guarantee an early development in the breast department, but no, not our Roberta. She struggled with a training bra well into her twenties and was the kind of girl who was never once asked to dance, not even from the band geeks. If this were a fairy tale, Roberta would have been cast as the Ugly Duckling that no-one gave a shit about.

One day, she fell into a handsome amount of inheritance and decided that it was time to become the swan she was born to be. Sure, she could have put her money into trusts and properties, but putting an end to her self-hatred had seemed a much wiser investment at the time. Her bad genetics and unfortunate appearance had taken a serious toll on her confidence and so she embarked on a complete overhaul a'la Demi Moore. What started off as a simple breast enlargement led to a nose job, an eye lift, cheek implants, several face lifts, liposuction and every possible surgery humanly possible. She had literally become a quilt. 

The new and improved Roberta could have easily been mistaken for Jocelyn Wildenstein's younger sister, only far less scarier. Her severe alterations had made her somewhat symmetrical which is how she got the nickname, SpongeBob Square Boobs. What was supposed to have given her a lift in self-esteem had turned into an ugly obsession with imperfection, one that was fueled by cruelty and one that would lead to her untimely suicide at the tender age of 42. Were her drastic transformations and surgical enhancements a cry for help, a coping mechanism for deeper psychological issues or had the desire to be noticed and attractive finally taken precedence? Despite her radical and expensive makeover, Roberta had died a very lonely, insecure woman incapable of loving herself the way she was. 

While the benefits of plastic surgery have proven to boost one's overall confidence, it can also take a toll on one's mental health. A simple nip-tuck here and there may seem appealing later on in life but make sure that you're in a good mental and emotional state to deal with the consequences. Don't go to the first quack that says he can change your life for half the price just because society expects you to. Do the research in order to avoid regrets. We all know what happened to Dirty Dancing's Jennifer Grey after her little nose job. While she may have made the occasional TV movie now and then, I think it's safe to say that she is no longer having the time of her life.

When it comes to cosmetic surgery, just how fantastic is life in plastic?

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