My friend told me a pretty disheartening story today. Despite the fact that this happened half a world away, it resonated with women on US soil.
When he was younger in Korea, a teacher of his was almost unrecognizable when they came back from summer vacation. The children asked what happened to her face, but came to realize that she had gotten plastic surgery on her nose.
It was clear that she had recently come out of the procedure, because her face was still bruised and healing. One of the children in his class said to her, “You should have gotten it in a place that isn’t so noticeable.” She left the room, and began to cry. My heart hurt.
Now the students could understand that what their classmate said hurt her feelings, but they didn’t understand the depth to which a comment like that can dig at someone’s soul.
Looking back, my friend said, “You know, this story is so different now that I’m an adult. There was another teacher who was really hot. I mean, she was gorgeous. And that teacher got all of the attention, and the teacher who got the surgery got none. She was around our age (mid-twenties), and I didn’t realize how much our lack of attention could have affected her self-confidence.”
This story may have happened over a decade ago, but it’s as true now as it was then. Oceans apart, completely different cultures, women are constantly made to feel less than. In TLC’s words, unpretty.
This woman was probably lovely just the way she is. Not just in a celebratory way, but even in terms of general aesthetics. Yet, she felt the need to alter her face because she was surrounded by individuals who couldn’t accept her just the way she was.
Sure, she could have tried to not let other people’s opinions get to her, but do we blame the victim or society? Changing the culture might not be easy, but it’s darn sure worth a try. Even if one fewer person feels the same way, it’s worth it.