This morning I'm headed to the temple to assist as the Young Women do baptisms for the dead.
I always think it's interesting how in the temple, we remove all of our jewelry, labels, colors of dress, quality of dress, to wear simple white. Everyone wears the simple, modest white. In the temple it isn't about how we appear, how society dictates what is acceptable or not. In the temple we focus on what is inside our hearts, minds, souls. Maybe that's why it's a place I find the most peace, other than in my own home.
Recently, on yet another post, on the same blog in the blogosphere about Mormon women and plastic surgery, specifically, elective surgery I made yet another comment. It is actually a comment I'd been planning on posting on my blog as it's own, stand alone post... so here it is, with a few edits:
My take on plastic surgery is in a general sense. As in every situation there are exceptions (health reasons, etc...). I understand that. It’s personal – I get that. At the same time, I do believe there are ideals to be preserved. I believe that elective surgery should be used as an exception, not the rule, not a graduation gift, not a community effort, and certainly not promoted as the norm. That's where I worry... that it is becoming more a norm...than an outlier. I think if we were honest, we'd agree that going under the knife is never the ideal... I think if we could achieve the same results in another manner, we'd wish there was another way.
My views on plastic surgery comes also from the issues I had to deal with as an a lone Asian girl in Bountiful, UT. Let’s face it…in nearly all my Church congregations, still to this day… I’m often the lone Asian girl that sticks out.
As a kid I HATED. I absolutely HATED how different I was. I hated my yellow skin, my slanted eyes, my coarse, thick hair. I had massive self-esteem issues. I was surrounded by beautiful blond, brunette girls with blue eyes, white skin and …they didn’t wear boy hand-me-downs. They all fit in.
When I was in 10th grade I gave a speech touting an imaginary soap that would make you any ethnicity you wanted. Want that blond, white body… bam… shower and you got it. Want a tan, exotic look… just hop in the shower and voila!
Luckily, for me, no such drastic surgery was available. Michael Jackson might disagree with that statement… but for me… it wasn’t. I learned a lot over the years coming to terms with how I looked on the outside…and how I felt on the inside. Those trials, working with who I was, made me strong, and helped me appreciate, and relish who I am.In fact, in college I could have easily done what so many other Asians did. They purposely segregated themselves by going to the Asian wards. I didn't want to blend in with the crowd. I wanted to be where I was unique. I loved the foreign language ward. I discovered that intelligent, ambitious people from different backgrounds, walks of life and cultures inspired me. I reveled in their unique qualities, as I reveled in my own. I had learned that being unique was something I rather liked at that stage of the game, and still do. I am grateful for the trials, the internal soul-searching that allowed me to finally arrive at a stage of self-acceptance.
I think about my ancestors in China. The breaking, wrapping and confinement of foot binding for all young girls at the ages of 3-6… for a standard of societal, economic beauty is quickly denounced, derided and abhorred by each of us. In those days, in that culture, a girl would either rise economically out of poverty with perfectly tiny, deformed feet, or suffer in squalid poverty for not conforming to society's standards of beauty.
Luckily, in our western society that kind of drastic lifestyle doesn't exist. So … what is the difference between the binding of feet that we instantly, disdainfully, judge (rightly so, in my opinion) as completely, utterly, wrong…and our western sensibilities in regards to slicing, nipping, cauterizing, and stitching? What makes one easily judged wrong, and another judged as anything goes? What of agency? In China, there was agency, to an extent. It was very clear from the get-go what the consequences to that agency was. In today's world, what are those consequences? Are people willing to accept those consequences to their agency, or simply rail against any stigma that may arise from our choices?
I understand there are many issues involved. Not every woman who pursues elective enhancement is insecure (and I am not addressing those)… but the vast majority are. And… I wonder how long that band aid really, truly heals what hurts inside. What of the lessons that need to be learned, the work needed to be done to accept oneself, as opposed to a "quick fix"? If we never learn how to accept, and love that scared little girl inside, how will we truly be happy?
And who is to say what the "perfect body" in the next life is the societal ideal we've come to believe in? Who is to say it's not an ample lap for children to sit and listen to stories in, or arms that embrace with a soft, all encompassing cuddle? Maybe I'm naive, but I still cling to the belief that God doesn't make any junk... I believe that what we believe in terms of perfection, and ideal physical appearance will be blown out of the water when we finally reach our eternal Home. Why do I think that when we reach that point, all that skin deep stuff we're so preoccupied about on a nearly, daily basis, won't even cross our radar when we're happily reunited with those we love most?
ps. Sure, there are things I'd like to change about my own body, but like I had to learn to love my outer, Asian self (now I love standing out) - I am learning to understand, love and appreciate my physical imperfections. I am hoping that I learn that lesson, in this stage of my life.