A reflective mood has over come me, which usually means I am inspired to write. So here goes. This will probably not be constructed very well, probably wont even have a point, but I have just finished writing factual papers, so this time it is all about me and how I like to write and of course, evidence will be provided, when I required. <clears throat>
For context of the following, you should watch the show first, to “get what I mean”.
To view outside of Australia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLjvF2a6Cn4
To view in Australia: http://www.abc.net.au/iview/#/view/806517
The above television documentary series explores ideas around beauty, cosmetic surgery, facial disfigurement and the discrimination that people with disfigurement live with everyday. Keep in mind that it takes us 1/100th of second to make a judgement about a person. We can’t help this as it is bio-cognitive reaction and there for a reason. What we can help is the on-going discrimination.
I have really enjoyed the first two episodes and am curious about the next one. The second show in the series is titled: Susan and Sarah. Susan was diagnosed with cancer in her lower jaw at the tender age of 4 months. The cancer was treated with Radio-therapy which took it’s toll on the structure of her face and left her blind in one eye. For Susan, she has reached her limit of possible surgeries and has very strong views about elective-cosmetic surgeries.
Sarah on the other hand is a 50 year old “model” and “celebrity pin up” or something. I couldn’t work out what she actually does but she makes enough money to claim that she has had the most plastic surgery in Britain. She injects herself with filler and boxtox. She has spent millions of pounds on elective cosmetic surgery both major and minor.
Now, I want you to know, that I am happy for people to change their bodies, if it is there choice. And by choice I mean not one made under traditional duress (by someone else) OR by mental illness dictated duress. You see when you are mentally ill, you don’t see things like 60+ cosmetic surgery as bad or detrimental even when confronted with evidence that proves the counter. When your inner voice is dictating what you do and do not do, then you have problems. I know this not because I read a text book, but because I live it.
Sarah is an incredibly fragile person. There is strong evidence of PTSD (she openly admits that she has suffered extreme violence which resulted in a broken nose and corrective surgery) which hasn’t been worked through in a psychological/psychiatric sense but has certainly shown up in addiction to surgery and body image. I would add some kind of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) which has a profound influence on her life in all sectors. I agree with the psychiatrists assertion that Sarah is incredibly narcissistic but whether this is defence mechanism or an actual psychological disorder, it would unethical to draw conclusions without a full evaluation.
Susan was amazing and a great source of comfort to Sarah, which her ego seemed to lap up. Sarah kept pushing Susan to embrace the technical advances of modern medicine and engage in more surgery to “fix her aesthetics”.
“I don’t understand why she would want to look like that? I mean, if I looked like that…” Sarah said this to the psychiatrist during their filmed session after Susan had stormed out. The idea of happiness beyond what one looks like was something Sarah really struggled with. Sarah’s lack of empathy was a source of frustration for Susan as she felt Sarah wasn’t really seeing the point. The point was not to change Susan but to change Sarah. The sheer lack of insight into this very fact is strong evidence of narcissistic personality traits.
Not to dump on poor Sarah completely because I believe we saw a glimmer of the person underneath the plastic surgery altered, blonde died hair and too much make-up. I saw a glimmer of a warm and loving woman, who is open to all people when her guard is down. Susan bought that out in her at pub karaoke. Her singing voice belie’s her tiny frame and Sarah was truly blown away by her new friends awesome talent. For a moment I believed this was the beginning of a new phase for Sarah. It was a grand moment.
Then came the follow up. Susan of course was going about her day and saw that she had learnt a lot from Sarah and while it was frustrating she valued the experience highly. Sarah on the other hand, had reverted back to where was (possibly worse given the outfit she had chosen to wear was out there, even for her). It was sad to see because under all the pain, is really wonderful person, I am sure of it. Someone like Susan wouldn’t have kept going if she weren’t.
I believe that Susan summed up her experience brilliantly.
“I thought; ‘How did I get through that?’…You have to believe in yourself and that is where you will find your confidence”
So what’s the point, I hear you asking. I identify with Sarah in many ways, I just don’t have the same fixations as she does and I’m not big on surgery, so you can breath a sigh of relief. My fixations aren’t on ageing, I plan on doing that disgracefully. My fixations are more on body, things that I can hide. I very rarely wear no sleeved shirts, I don’t like my arms. I rarely wear short skirts without thick tights (unless it’s night time) because I don’t want people to see my legs. I have been known to wear jeans (when needing to leave the house) on 38* degree days. So I get it, this doco really showed me that this must stop. No one is generally looking at me anyway (and I don’t mean that as self-deprecating, just I’m not 18 anymore) so who cares what my legs look like.
It’s good that I can at least think this way, thinking is one thing, when confronted with the task, I will probably fold a couple of times, until I get the hang of it. I’ve given up on getting over everything, I’m just going to work on the stupid things, like jeans (and before I was on medication, I would wear a jumper, so baby steps and all that) on a 38 degree day.
I hope this rambling finds you all very well.