This year in October, we took a few days off and went to visit my parents-in-law in Lebanon. Coming from Saudi, we really enjoyed the weather there and had a real lovely break all together. Amidst all the holiday fun, though, I got struck by something unusual. Now, what is unusual to me looked as if it was pretty usual for everyone else there! The “thing” was advertised high up on billboards as we drove through the many coastal and mountainous roads. It was in our face almost everywhere we went. If you haven’t guessed already, well; the “thing” refers to plastic surgery! It struck me because when we travel to other countries, you just don’t see gigantic plastic surgery billboard ads; and in such quantity. My husband even tells me plastic surgery ads run on prime TV channels; advertising latest technologies and special prices! Maybe I was struck, because of the circles that I frequent too. I just do not know anybody who had done any visible adjustments to their physique. When in Slovakia every summer, I do not notice anything extraordinary to this effect, definitely no roadside billboards! But Lebanon always surprises me. I realise that people do seek and get physical “improvements” everywhere in the world. I do not mean to pick on Lebanon or Lebanese alone, because I believe that having plastic surgery does not diminish a person or make her inferior. It does not necessarily speak negatively to her mental capabilities nor to her value system. A woman with inflated lips is not a worse mother or an unequal partner, she is not a less productive employee or a less loyal friend. But, as I was thinking about why so many women in Lebanon (and other countries) feel the need to alter their features, and that nothing would stop them, notwithstanding the excruciating pain involved in such alternations, or the potentially horrible side effects that could possibly result in lifelong negative outcomes or even death, the same answer kept cropping up in my mind: self-love; the lack of self-love!
That’s what we don’t have. We lack self-love both on individual and collective levels. We do not love ourselves. I mean the real kind of love, the unconditional, everlasting, ever forgiving type of love. Imagine you are holding your little baby in your arms, sleeping, peaceful while he’s totally entrusting his life into your hands. How much do you love that baby? You would do anything for him/her, your love is not demanding; it is totally unconditional and you could never imagine to blame the baby for being fat, having chubby bottom or for being too clumsy. That is an image of pure love. We feel it for our children, yet we cannot feel it for ourselves.
We often confuse selfishness with self love. Better to say, we use selfishness to compensate for the lack of self love. We sometimes demand things from this world, we think we are entitled and we claim what we think is ours. As if, by doing this, we will achieve the love of self; the love that we are unable to find within.
A cliche advice for a woman getting ready for plastic surgery is “to do it for herself, not for a boyfriend or anybody else”. Now, why does a woman need to have a bigger chest I wonder? Or why does she need “fuller” lips? Or a tucked tummy? Will a bigger chest help her embrace difficult situations better, will bigger lips make her say the truth about things, and will a flat tummy turn her into a more respectable professional at work? I doubt it.
But I truly think that a healthy woman drastically alters her physical features for only one reason; she is seeking self love! Doesn’t matter how busy you get, how many friends and/or lovers you collect during a lifetime, it doesn’t matter how many people envy you your good looks, sense of humor, or intelligence; at the end of the day, you are left with one and only person whose opinion matters the most; and that’s YOU! If you keep replaying the hate tape in your head, nobody and nothing will be able to pause it.
ONLY YOU CAN. Make a conscious decision today to catch negative self talk and pause it. It takes practise. Self love is not a destination, it is a journey. And this journey is different for each person. For some it might be through having plastic surgery only to realise after that something is actually still missing, for others it might be through loving their kids and the people in their lives, and for others it might be through many hardships or ups and downs that can only teach them that self-love is actually a cornerstone for being content in life. And some, on the other hand, are just born with the ability to love themselves unconditionally! I am, for sure, still in the process. What about you?