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Moms Dying for Beauty: What Is Going on Here???

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Are you willing to risk your life for that breast lift?

woman lying in an operating room

Dr. Wendy Walsh: Two years after the tragic death of singer Kayne West's mother, who died after a breast reduction and tummy tuck, another mother has died after undergoing plastic surgery. Rohie Orukaton, 37, a mother of three, died this week from complications after a liposuction procedure in Florida.

What's going on with women? Have we become such a vain and looks-oriented culture that we are willing to risk our lives for beauty?

In a word, yes. And mothers, in particular, are vulnerable to this pressure. Here's why:

The idea of the MILF and the "Hot Mom" archetypes grew as our media-driven culture attempted to place high value on the noble, unpaid profession of motherhood. Prior to feminism, motherhood had its own power and its own drawbacks, but ever since feminism reared its beautiful head, women seem to mostly be valued for sexuality and success. And, if we can achieve both, à la Tyra Banks, Britney Spears, and Beyoncé, all the merrier. Somehow, with the galloping in of feminine rights, we lost a few. Like the right to look dowdy and still feel proud of what we do.

Yes, ladies, we threw the baby out with the bath water. My farm-wife grandmother had seven babies and probably miscarried a few up in a back bedroom on our Walsh family farm. She had a glorious belly that bounced off her thighs when she shuffled around her kitchen. But that woman never bought a loaf of bread in her life. Her kitchen was a virtual factory of baking, roasting, and preserving. As a young girl who spent my summers under her tutelage, I marveled at the complete expression of feminine energy. When Grammy wasn't stoking a wood stove or kneading dough, she was working the foot pump on her manual Sears sewing machine, making fabulous quilts out of last year's curtains.

My grandmother's work was so valued and so powerful, she was literally the life force of the household. And, except for Sunday Mass, I never saw the woman wear a girdle. The idea that mothers today are lining up to have their precious baby-growing bellies hacked away would have made Grammy giggle a big belly giggle. And I mean BIG. Today, women who like to nurture, keep house, and cook suddenly look -- well, rather old-fashioned. They are also a dying breed because of capitalism. It is the fortunate woman today who finds a rich husband, inherits a fortune, or cashes out early enough to allow her to have such "hobbies." And, I'll bet my best pair of Spanx that if today's man underwrites motherhood, he also purchases a gym membership for his lovely lady too.

This is a new capitalist society with a doubled workforce, and baby, if you don't look hot or make money, you've got no place in it. Last time I checked, motherhood still doesn't pay a dime. So, what option is left for mothers who unknowingly buy in to the hype? To look hot or make money. That's our choice.

Sad. Sad. Sad, all the way around. My heart goes out to children who have lost their mothers to the unfortunate "side effects" of cosmetic surgery. But equally dangerous is the idea that two hours at the gym rather than reading to children is more valuable to a woman. I don't know the answer, except that we women must comment on what we see. And that's how I see it.

next: Stepdad Walks In On Sex, Shoots Daughter's Boyfriend
26 comments so far | Post a comment now
jennifer  October 16, 2009, 6:59 AM

I think your article is interesting and raises some good points. However, there are many generalizations which leave me unsettled. Going to the gym and reading to your kids are not mutually exclusive activities. Also, I know many woman who chose to go for the breast lift or tummy tuck after having kids- not to fit into some b.s. cultural standard but to feel better about themselves. And if that is their choice- and they are not having plastic surgery to attempt to repair some emotional wound but to really feel more comfortable- then I don’t think we should judge that choice. Let’s be honest- most women want to feel attractive- this phenomena is not unique to our culture or time- and woman who attempt to improve their health or appearance by working out or getting elective surgery should not be pigeon-holed as vain and selfish.

TUG TALK October 16, 2009, 8:15 AM

Even as a man I understand some of the need to for a woman to feel beautiful. However, the most beautiful women I have experienced work at being beautiful more than feeling beautiful. Surgery may help the feeling but what are women doing about the being part? I think the grandmother in this story had her own value and promoted that. That is what being beautiful is about.


Deana October 20, 2009, 6:52 AM

I believe Tyra’s a natural beauty isn’t she?

Des October 26, 2009, 12:30 PM

Kanye wests mom died from a lethal mix of over dosing on pain meds and having prior health problems (which is why she shouldnt have gotten the surgury to begin with) So she died from her own selfish nature. But i dont think moms who get plastic surgury are doing it because they want to look like the medias idea of perfection. After having a baby that weighed almost 10 pounds, i have a lot of excess skin. I would like to have a tummy tuck someday, and not because the media pressured me to. Because the skin is so over stretched and painful to touch. Plus, its hard to go from a perfect tummy to lots of extra skin hanging….clothes never fit right and it makes me very uncomfortable.

D November 8, 2009, 3:14 AM

Surgery isn’t always the answer!! Go onto . You will never find a better, simplier, more effective, affordable product. This was developed for men and women but of course there was a woman at the helm!

CHIZO August 8, 2010, 1:11 AM

@ jennifer i think u just hit the nail on the head.Thanks

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