On Poetry and Culture Shock

On the horrors of "cosmetic" surgery

Last weekend I was watching a videotape, not a DVD, and since I had to stop and rewind occasionally, I saw bits and pieces of a TV reality show. It had the general feel and look of a “makeover show”, those in which people (normally women) get an image change that involves shorter hair and more colourful clothes. But this one was about unusual cosmetic surgery. I was outraged and saddened, rather than culture-shocked, by what I saw.

Section One was about a young woman called Tiffany, who wanted to get her labia minora reduced. Yep. The labia minora and the clitoral hood: just about the second most sensitive bits of skin in a woman’s body after the clitoris. She thought they were too big. Let me say that again: a woman submitted voluntarily to have her genitalia mutilated, living in a free country and for aesthetic reasons. She was willing to pay for it and someone was willing to do the job. The butcher…, I mean, the surgeon, said “the area is kind of soft”. KIND OF!?

Section Two did not belong in such a frivolous show. Let’s see, this seemed to be a program about extreme cosmetic surgery, right? Would you say that breast augmentation belonged in a show like this? Not really, right? Section two was about a woman-to-man transsexual who wanted his breasts removed. He had something between the small, flabby breasts that fat men often have, and ordinary female breasts. The portrayal made me sad; I think it’s sad that some people are born with mismatched genders in their body and their brains. And it is also sad that this guy didn’t like his body the way it was; having to choose between losing sensitivity and looks, I wouldn’t t a knife anywhere near me (but then, I don't know how it feels to be born with the wrong sex). Still, I don’t think he belonged in that show. People that don’t want to have breasts should not be paraded like freaks.

And another thing: the surgeon never stopped saying “This guy is a man to me and I’m making his chest match that. He’s a guy, end of the question”. But then, the shots of this **man’s** chest were blurred, because you can’t show **women’s** nipples on TV. ¿En qué quedamos? Was he a man only as long as he didn’t take off his shirt?

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