Will cosmetic surgery make me happy?
anonymous Asks ...
I was quite good looking but I am now 44 and I do not get the attention for my looks that I used to. It is quite vain but I admit that I miss this. I always scoffed at the idea of plastic surgery and I always planned to age gracefully – whatever that means. Now that it’s really happening I may be changing my mind. What I want to know, and maybe this in an unanswerable question, is will getting surgery and fighting to stay youthful looking make me happier? Or will I be happier accepting what is and living as I am now? Sorry to throw up an impossible question (you don’t know me of course) but I am really grappling with what’s important in my life and the message I want to send to my daughters so I am interested in the big picture as well as my own picture. Thank you for whatever thinking points you can offer.
Penny Bell Says ...
Let me try to understand your question properly – you are missing the attention you once had due to your good looks, and you believe that attention is waning due to aging. You are wondering if regaining your youthful looks through cosmetic surgery will return that attention to you and thus make you happy – or are you wondering if you need attention to your appearance, or admiration, to make you happy? You feel your unhappiness is related to this perceived waning of attention, and that you are sending the message to your daughters that only being externally attractive will make them happy. The logic here is that if I’m young looking I will get the attention I need to be happy, and if I’m not, then only misery can follow. Have I got it right?
You say you’re interested in “the big picture” as well as your own picture, and I take it that refers to your set of values and the values you pass on to your children. Your “grappling” seems to be between those values and the sense of loss you have over your youthful looks. What’s really important to me? is your big picture question.
I think you have answered your own question within the text of the question! You really value “growing old gracefully”, as you are aware that growing old is not in your control. But now that you are actually experiencing that “growing old” part you’re not feeling so gracious about it! You would like to have that youth back, and all the trappings with it. Deep down however you know that even cosmetic surgery is not going to stop the process permanently, and you will be entering into a never-ending attempt to turn back time. You will be temporarily relieved of your anxiety, but the anxiety about aging will not go away through this means. In fact, it could be intensified!
I wonder what else you have, aside from your looks, that makes you attractive. You say you have daughters – are you a great mother? Are you a wonderful friend to someone? Are you kind, considerate, funny, creative, fun to be around? Do you have great ideas, interesting thoughts, a helpful attitude? Growing old graciously is all about our internal world and the richness that’s built there through life’s experiences. When we discover that we have treasures within we are then equipped to share them, and become valuable to others. Perhaps looking within at all the wonderful resources you have there will be a beginning of that acceptance of “what is”, and will help you to provide your daughters with tools for themselves as they venture into the world to find their own identity.