The other day I saw a t.v. show interviewing women over the age of 30 who’d decided to have plastic surgery. Specifically, they’d all had breast implants.
Now this was a bit surprising to me. When I think of breast implants, I think of women in their twenties who are perhaps hoping it will boost their specific careers.
But that simply isn’t the case anymore. An article in USA Today reported that from 2000 to 2005 the number of women getting breast implants increased 37%, and as the article described, “The typical person getting breast implants today is not the stripper, the model…It’s the girl down the street.”
What’s more, she’s not so much a “girl” either. She’s a woman–a wife and a soccer mom, most likely with a bachelors degree. A survey done in 2003 found that the average age of women receiving breast augmentation was 34.
About a month ago I wrote about the growing trend of anorexia in women over the age of 30, so given those statistics the rise in breast implants should be no surprise. The only difference is that there’s a stigma attached to one, and not to the other. Anorexia is frowned upon by the general population, but breast implants are becoming more and more accepted.
That brings us back to the show I was watching the other day. As the women being interviewed discussed their decisions, their reasons tended to be more personal than professional. They’d always wanted bigger breasts, or they simply wanted a makeover.
But one woman raised a dissenting voice. She argued that women only have this surgery if they are suffering from low self-esteem or have a poor body image. By having breast implants, they are attempting to prop up their self-esteem in an artificial way.
“Finally!” I thought. A voice of reason in a backwards world!
But she was quickly dismissed. One of the other women immediately replied that her self-esteem was just fine and that she’d always had tremendous confidence. Her reason for having the surgery? “I’m doing it for me.”
As soon as the words came out of her mouth, I wanted to start shaking my t.v. set. I wanted to sit that women down and ask her, “What do you mean you’re doing it for you? Where do you think the desire to have bigger boobs came from? It’s not like you cooked it up in your own brain independent of the culture you live in! You’re doing it because society has fed you the lie that women with larger breasts are more beautiful and desirable. The idea that you’re doing it for you is all an illusion!”
Unfortunately, I am not able to sit down with that women and tell her those things….which probably wouldn’t have gone over too well anyway. But I do have a blog, so I’m going to state it here:
Be careful when you hear yourself utter the words, “I’m doing it for me.” Yes, there are times when this motivation is warranted–if, for instance, you are extremely overweight and you need to do a better job of being healthy. Take the necessary steps to make that happen.
But don’t use these words to mask the real problem. It is most likely that you have been so profoundly influenced by society that you don’t even know what’s you, and what’s the culture.
The key to determining the difference can be found in Scripture. Are you making changes that are consistent with the Scriptural depiction of the human being? If you are trying to be healthy, then yes! Our bodies are the temple of God, so we should be good stewards of them.
But if you are attempting to make drastic, superficial changes to the body God has given you, whether it be through surgery, extreme dieting, or over-exercising, then you will find yourself in conflict with the truths of Scripture. The Bible tells us that we are made in God’s image, and that God knit us together in our mother’s womb. This implies an intimate, intentional purpose in every single part of your body and personality, so any attempt to alter that creation runs the risk of insulting God. It questions His judgment in making you the way that you are.
(And please don’t interpret this to mean that I am promoting some sort of Christian Science position in which doctors should not help people born with birth defects. Scripture shows us examples of healing in the lives of individuals whose day-to-day functioning was impaired from birth. Such surgery is certainly permissible, but it’s in an altogether different category from the kind of changes I have described above.)
In closing, I want to remind each one of you out there that you have been fearfully and wonderfully made. Any message that indicates otherwise does not come from God, so be on your guard against the lies of our culture. We have becomes so inundated by them that we have now begun to deceive ourselves, rather than being speakers of truth.
Ultimately, the best way to determine whether you’re doing what’s best for you, or if you’re simply in bondage to the opinion of others, can be found in the following question: Are you doing it for God? Sometimes the desires we have for ourselves can be deeply misguided, so we should never use our own, personal fulfillment as a barometer of right and wrong. Ultimately it’s about God and what brings the most glory to Him. Anything else is idolatry.
*To read the whole USA Today article, you can check it out here.