The debate about what may or may not be feminist reopens. On the basis of the meaning of feminism, which speaks of the doctrine and social movement that calls for women’s recognition of capacities and rights that have traditionally been reserved for men, the appearance, performance or attitude of a woman should not be condemnatory to define her as a feminist or machista. In fact, simply judging a woman’s ideology by the way she models or transforms her body should be recriminated as a macho act.
But of course, the subject is not as easy as it seems a priori. Cosmetic surgery, such as make-up, provocative clothing or infinite heels, has traditionally been linked to a stereotype of a superficial woman, concerned about her image and appearance and totally alien to social concerns or political causes. Fortunately, over the years, society has overcome these clichés, understanding all these aspects as a form of expression, which corroborates women’s freedom to dress, comb and make-up, and which has even been used in some specific feminist sectors as a symbol of women’s empowerment. And we don’t talk about current events, but Elizabeth Arden already gave the women suffragettes a red lipstick as an emblem of the feminist struggle.
Today’s pride and prejudices
Of course, today, in the world of cinema, fashion and entertainment, clothing and cosmetics has become the main means of claiming the right to work; something also criticized by other sectors, which speak of a new feminist movement as fashion, something that has little to do with the ideals of this doctrine, but rather as a trend among the most elitist groups and, above all, Instagram.
In fact, cosmetic surgery has been seen, on numerous occasions, as another consequence of a macho society, in which women try to please men by all means.
There is also the conception of cosmetic surgery as an ineffective escape from complexes, also derived from the pressure exerted by Western culture on the female body. The psychologist Júlia Pascual tells us how women with complexes have tried to solve them by undergoing operations or touch-ups; something that has subsequently led to a pathology known as dysmorphobia: “A person can find a specific complex that, a priori, could be insignificant (it could even be imaginary).
Can your own appearence become an obsession?
However, he became obsessed until he developed the psychopathology already mentioned. At this point, that person is looking for ways to solve his or her problem through different means such as isolation, makeup or complements that cover up what he or she does not like and, ultimately, surgery. The danger of aesthetic surgical treatments and interventions is that the patient may enter a vicious circle, because after modifying a part of his body, he may see others that he does not like either, and undergo constant operations, with consequences that can be fatal.
At the other extreme, a new wave of feminism emerges, defending the body as the main weapon of freedom. It is clear that in many cases the complexes in women derive from pressure and the imposition of very strict canons of beauty, which make the victim not accept her body as it is and want to comply with stereotypes.
But what if it doesn’t? If a woman simply decides to have breast surgery because she likes it bigger, without a complex behind it that torments her or a male desire to satisfy. That is, if there is no harmful motive behind it, what is the difference between tattooing your whole body for aesthetic reasons and wearing breasts for the same reason?
If you feel better with yourself, why not?
We live in a society that puts within our reach everything we want or need to feel better; the dilemma arises when there are two opposing currents that start from the same point. Should we learn to live with what we have and reject the complexes of a stereotyped society or should we take advantage of the advances that science offers to put an end to what we do not like?
Some time ago, a letter from an American university professor, published in the American edition of Cosmopolitan, became viral, in which she spoke precisely of this dilemma. The young woman, who preferred to remain anonymous, considered herself an openly feminist woman and spoke of the internal conflict she suffered when she realized that she wanted to have her breasts operated, for no other reason than an aesthetic taste for large breasts, but that she could confront her feminist values.
“Would the implants betray the person I really was,” he says in the open letter still available on the Cosmopolitan website, “wishing I had bigger breasts made me feel guilty, as if I was agreeing with all those who had humiliated me for years.