I was talking to a friend in a different section of CAS 137H and she told me she was doing her TED talk on a book called My Beautiful Mommy. The whole point of the story is to teach young girls how to cope with their mothers’ changing appearances after getting plastic surgery. That’s right. A children’s book about plastic surgery. When I was a kid, I thought plastic surgery meant replacing defective body parts with plastic ones. I can’t even imagine how a young child would understand the complexity of this procedure through a twenty page picture book. Overall, I just found so many things about this story completely unacceptable. I figured the best way to explain my feelings would be to list them out. Please feel free to share your thoughts on whatever I say below!
One of the main things I thought was completely twisted about this book was the fact that the mother was explaining the process of plastic surgery only to her daughter although in the story, there was a son as well. The father and son played very passive roles throughout the whole book – emphasis was placed on teaching the daughter how her mother would look so much better after a few cosmetic operations done courtesy of Dr. Michael. In all honesty, I can’t see how this book was published because of the obvious message it sends to young girls. That is, it’s okay to cosmetically alter your body parts because it will make you look better. Why was this message only being passed on to the daughter though? In the story, the daughter is the one who goes with her mother to her appointments with the surgeon and she is also the only one present when her parents are explaining the process of the surgery. The brother is mentioned only briefl y – like when he has to lift heavy objects for the mother because she is too weak to do it herself or when he actually cleans up his clothes because he doesn’t want to make his mom do extra work. Furthermore, there’s already so much pressure on girls in their adolescent years to achieve that perfect, skinny body that all magazine models are expected to have. In my high school, I knew a ridiculously large amount of girls with eating disorders. It got to the point where finding out that another one of my classmates had anorexia or bulimia didn’t come as a surprise anymore. Imagine if those girls had grown up reading a book like My Beautiful Mommy especially at such a young age. How would this have affected their self images through the rest of their childhoods? How are young girls reading this book nowadays going to cope as they face more pressure throughout their teenage years and the rest of their lives?
Another thing that really bothered me was the appearance of the doctor and the mother throughout the book. For those of you who are curious to know what I’m talking about, you can look up images of the book for a better understanding. This book was written by a plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Salzhauer, who conveniently includes himself to the story as the extremely buff plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael. The only other male in the story, the father, is about half the size of this esteemed doctor. What’s up with that? Also, I find it really disturbing that the mother’s go to outfit throughout the story is a crop top and tight pants. What mothers do you guys know of who wear crop tops and tight pants on a regular basis? The author of this book is clearly enhancing the features of the doctor and his patient to entice the buyers of this book to sign up for his plastic surgery practice.
In the grand scheme of things, this book probably isn’t that of a deal – not many people have read it and the comments on Amazon make it obvious that most people don’t actually like it that much. It’s the scary realization that there are people out there who actually take this book seriously is what really makes me worry for the future of our society.