More “Beauty” Reflections

(This is just a train of thought, a stream of consciousness….follow along as I wend and weft my way)

When I get dressed up, made up, put on the fancy hair and the 4 inch heels – who do I do it for? Do I do it for my husband? Do I do it for myself? Do I do it for the baalei simcha (hosts) if I’m going to a wedding? Do I do it so that I don’t embarrass myself / my KoD / my children and therefore do not ruin my sons’ shidduch chances?

I would say each of those statements (other than the shidduch chances) plays a part. My husband loves me when I look drop dead gorgeous (just like I love to see him in a suit) and loves me after I have been throwing up all weekend long with the flu and look like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards, twice. I don’t need to look my best for him to continue to love me. He doesn’t love me more when I put in more effort to my appearance. However, if I gave up trying to look good the minute that  wedding ring was firmly on my finger, what would that have said?

I love to dress up occasionally. Not every day. But when I spend the best part of a week in pajamas denim skirts and tees and bandannas (working from home is great), sometimes it is nice to clean up, and make an effort. When the make up goes on, the hair and the heels and the nice clothes – I feel better. I feel more confident. I feel more beautiful. I feel good. I look in the mirror and I am happy with what I see. (Mostly. I am female, after all, and I do tend to see imperfections all over the place).

I have a quirky sense of style. Most of you don’t know that. I have toned it down a lot, for various reasons. One of them was that I moved to a new place and I wanted to fit in. Ugh, just writing that makes me feel like I sold out. But it is all part of the puzzle. We all want to fit in, yet we all want to be unique.

G-d gave me this body, this face, this life. I am blessed – after four kids I still have a trim figure. Yes, a plastic surgeon could lift things and put them back to where they used to be, do some botox, a nip and a tuck here and there but this is who I am.

Make-up enhances that which we have been given. Nothing wrong with getting eyebrows shaped, hair straightened, teeth bleached, and learning how to apply make up properly. We all need the boost that we get from knowing that we are looking our best. Not society’s judgement of best, but OUR best.

Advocating for plastic surgery to fix that which G-d gave us – how dare we second guess Him? How dare we tell Him that our daughter would look better with a smaller nose, with her ears pinned back, with smaller / bigger breasts? G-d created us ALL in His image – when did He go for plastic surgery? Where in the Torah does it permit elective surgery?

In fact, it’s a discussion if one is halachically permitted to go for such procedures. If it’s a physical need, like a deviated septum, there’s no question. Emotionally, from what I remember (and I am no rabbi so don’t quote me) if the distress is large enough to impact a person’s life if they don’t have the nose job / ear pin / cosmetic procedure then it’s possibly permitted. But to just do it because the shadchan says?

Every time my kids have had to have surgery (and there have been three surgeries that I recall) for PHYSICAL necessity I discussed it back and forth with the doctors to make sure the risks of doing it were worth the outcome. But, how can you compare a necessary appendectomy with an elective nose job? You can – they are both surgery with risks associated with anesthesia. Neither should be entered into without careful consideration.

You know, it’s days after I read Ms Halberstam’s original article and I am still boiling mad. Girls are already made to feel that anything over a size 4 is not good enough, and if this kind of ridiculous pressure is increased on girls to be a certain way – there won’t be any mothers for our grandchildren, or wives for our sons. Anorexia is already a problem. How many girls are we going to lose under the knife?

My grandfather, may he rest in peace, used to complain to me about my size while I was growing up. In Hebrew he’d say “there’s nothing to hold on to”. No man would want me unless I had more meat on my bones. Oh how times have changed. It just makes me so sad.

I can only influence my four boys the right way – what about everyone else out there? Will my boys look for a slim woman because their mother is tall and slim? Or will they look for character and soul over physicality? I just pray they make the right choice for them.

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8 Comments

  1. Mark says:

    My grandfather, may he rest in peace, used to complain to me about my size while I was growing up. In Hebrew he’d say “there’s nothing to hold on to”. No man would want me unless I had more meat on my bones. Oh how times have changed. It just makes me so sad.

    Your grandfather said/implied that no man would want you because of some physical characteristic of yours? That’s as bad as Yetta H. saying that the shidduch crisis is caused because the boys don’t want the girls because they look too plain.

    Sounds more like you’re saying that times have not changed!

  2. batya from NJ says:

    Besides, I guess being thin worked in your favor & helped you in finding a Shidduch especially the second time around with 4 kids which as you were informed was NOT going to be easy..

  3. rebeccad says:

    Ithink it is not a matter of what (sons) they are looking for as to what we are looking for for ourselves(Sons) I think that it is important for the kids to look not only on the outside, but on the inside. The outside only lasts a couple of years and circumstatnces change a persons body and mind.

    Reading Ms. Halberstam’s article I realized that it was ashame that no one took the time to tell her that she was a beutiful woman / gir ,created in Hashem’s image and that she was just perfect! However, her own opinion of herself as a youth and what other people fed into her mind that she is projecting.

    We as parents must be careful not to put down our kids. Every person has what is perceived as flaws. Yet it was Hashem’s intentention to have this or that attribute on or in a person.

    Lets let Ms. H alone. She might have circumstances that led to her low self opinion of herself as a child that led to the doctor’s knife and there fore it led to this article. Lets be super careful to be careful what we say to and about our kids in ear shot. ie: “She has her fathers big brows or she is big boned form the other side of the family or if only her nose were a little this or that…….)

  4. KoD says:

    (Mostly. I am female…).

    Is there something that I should know?

  5. postpunkchronicles says:

    This is a great well thought out reply. I do agree though that implying you’re too skinny is just as bad as implying you’re too fat. I had a friend once who was VERY thin naturally and people constantly teased her calling her anorexic, assuming that wasn’t an insult bc skinny is “obviously better” than fat.. Well it often had her and tears and destroyed her body image. She felt ugly and unwanted.
    Point is that outside of maintaining what Hashem has given us, we as human have always been powerless against the way we look…. until recently. Until now we had to rely on our character, reputation and personality. Now? we can just diet to a size 4 and get our ear/nose/mouth/wrinkles/belly done.
    It’s bad enough knowing you don’t fit other’s expectation of “beautiful” but how much worse is it when you are told also that you are being irresponsible to not get elective surgery to make you beautiful. And by other WOMEN or all things! ugh. Disgusting!

  6. newmom says:

    Once I reached the age of 20 and starting dating (not shidduchim) it was bit as easy as I thought to find a boyfriend. By the time I reached my mid twenties and still single I was hearing a lot of “you have a wonderful smile, just a pity about your nose” from various older women who were worried about me. Eventually I decided to have a nose job and I have to say that it didn’t help in finding a husband (I got married aged 30) , but it did give me a lot more confidence when going to parties and meeting new people, and I don’t regret it for a moment.

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