Modern cosmetic surgeons have a direct financial interest in a social role for women that requires them to feel ugly. They do not simply advertise for a share of a market that already exists: Their advertisements create new markets. It is a boom industry because it is influentially placed to create its own demand through the pairing of text with ads in women's magazines. The industry takes out ads and gets coverage; women get cut open. They pay their money and they takes their chances. As surgeons grow richer, they are able to command larger and brighter ad spaces.
Our society does reward beauty on the outside over health on the inside. Women must not be blamed for choosing short-term beauty fixes that harm our long-term health, since our life spans are inverted under the beauty myth, and there is no great social or economic incentive for women to live a long time.
Pain is real when you get other people to believe in it. If no one believes in it but you, your pain is madness or hysteria or your own unfeminine inadequacy. Women have learned to submit to pain by hearing authority figures - doctors, priests, psychiatrists - tell us that what we feel is not pain.
The idea that women are innately gentle is a fantasy, and a historically recent one. Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction, is depicted as wreathed in male human skulls; the cruel entertainments of the Romans drew audiences as female as they were male; Boudicca led her British troops bloodily into battle.
The last thing the consumer index wants men and women to do is to figure out how to love one another: The $1.5 trillion retail-sales industry depends on sexual estrangement between men and women, and is fuelled by sexual dissatisfaction. Ads do not sell sex--that would be counterproductive, if it meant that heterosexual women and men turned to one another and were gratified. What they sell is sexual discontent.
The maturing of a woman who has continued to grow is a beautiful thing to behold. Or, if your ad revenue or your seven-figure salary or your privileged sexual status depend on it, it is an operable condition.
Today, women have access to the technological capacity to do anything to our bodies in the struggle for beauty, but we have yet to evolve a mentality beyond the old rules, to let them imagine that this combat among women is not inevitable. Surgeons can now do anything. We have not yet reached the age in which we can defend ourselves with an unwillingness to have anything done. This is a dangerous time. New possibilities for women quickly become new obligations.
We should be telling girls what they already know but rarely see affirmed: that the lives they lead inside their own self-contained bodies; the skills they attain through their own concentration and rigor, and the unique phase in their lives during which they may explore boys and eroticism at their own pace - these are magical. And they constitute the entrance point to a life cycle of a sexuality that should be held sacred.