Pimp My Bod

Page 8 of 10

Yes, that's what he does. The doctor pulls out a sliding ruler and measures my breasts and my nipples. I now know how large my areolas are in centimeters. I think it's safe to say that I could have probably gone the rest of my life without that knowledge.

Unfortunately, the worst part is not over. He pulls out a camera, and I repeat my previous photo shoot — only this time, I'm even more naked, thanks to the stupid paper panties.

The assistant diverts her eyes. When she notices my embarrassment, she assures me, "I know how you feel." She got her implants in 1986. I'm starting to like her better.

As the doctor snaps pictures of every uncomfortable angle of my body, Nickelback is singing a song about gold diggers and models. I hate Nickelback, and the singer's terrible vocals are only making this moment worse for me.

But I pick up on a line of the song: "We all just wanna be big rock stars, live in hilltop houses, driving 15 cars. The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap. We'll all stay skinny cuz we just won't eat."

It's a shitty song that sums up a shitty worldview, but it crystallizes the reason I'm standing topless, bored and blushing, in this office right now.

I never thought I'd say this, but Nickelback has given me an epiphany.

What happens in these offices is just the beginning. Along with the lipo and the breast implants, the nose job and the new chin, comes a whole lifestyle. The pressure for perfection is intense, and once one part of the body is "fixed," it's easy to focus on another flaw.

I'm struggling to see the point. I decide it's time to call the experts.

Maybe Nik Richie, the Dirty Scottsdale guy, is right. Maybe everyone just wants to feel famous, even if it's only to a bunch of has-beens and never-weres in the local bar scene. It certainly makes sense, the way he explains it.

"They want a local celeb status. It's easy to be famous out here in the Scottsdale scene. Every girl or guy wants to be talked about," Richie says. "So if a girl is getting so much attention and she looks a certain way . . . when in Rome. I look at women in two different ways: a girl I would sleep with and never talk to again, and a girl I would go horseback riding with and see if they will accept this rose."

I guess it comes as no surprise that Richie is a fan of plastic surgery.

"I love plastic surgery on women. I am all about it," he says. "If a chick wants to make herself look and feel better, go for it. Competition in the world is what makes our country the best. We strive for perfection."

It turns out, I agree with him. Sort of. I do think working to make yourself feel better is fine, and how you decide to do that is up to you. But I do worry that the availability of surgery, and the image of total physical perfection it promotes, isn't healthy.

Alyssa Mandel is a psychotherapist who treats body dysmorphia, as well as other body-image and eating disorders, at the Mandel Center in Phoenix. She says many of her patients consider "fixing" their problems with surgery.

"They come to me saying, 'I hate my body. I'm obsessing over my thighs. I want to do something to them. I'm not getting a job as a result of my thighs.' It can be any part of the body," she says. "Once you get that part of your body fixed, it changes. If it's your nose and you get a nose job, you decide your lips are too small."

Mandel concedes that not everyone who gets plastic surgery has body dysmorphia. But she does think anyone considering surgery needs to ask themselves very serious questions — questions that are deeper than "Do I want a C cup or a D?"

Consider how much this surgery is really going to change your life. Get ready not to have the exact results you want. Get ready to go into debt. I can only assume most people don't pay for their surgery up-front. Every doctor I visited discussed financing with me.

It's a high cost for self-esteem, but Mandel says the drive for perfection isn't going to slow down.

"Does it run as a theme in our society? Yes. Our obsession with the external — we all internalize that," she says. "It's rampant. You can drive yourself insane. And people do."

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Megan Irwin
Contact: Megan Irwin