Thursday, June 04, 2009

Cosmetic Surgery & Aesthetic


Previously I've remarked the irony that, "making-up is an act of validation. An attempt to validate ourselves in the public. And this implies that we, in the first place, are invalids."

Alex Tang recently highlighted an article on whether is cosmetic surgery sinful (read the article if you want to make sense the rest of this post). Alex asked for thoughts about the article, and here is mine:
3 agreements with the article:

1) The culture of indulging in false beauty is communal.

2) Decision to go for cosmetic surgery is made under duress.

3) "...do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love serve one another.”

3 critics on the agreeable points:

1) Is there such a clean-cut to differentiate between 'real' and 'false' beauty? Beauty can extend simply from our clothes, our behaviour, to extremes like cosmetic surgery. So before we declare what constitute 'false' beauty, we need to be clear of that.

2) All decision that we made are influence in one way or another by our surrounding and experiences. Hence, all decision are made under duress. The issue is not even the degree of duress but by which duress are we being influenced under.

3) Not sure if self-indulgence can be so uncritically defined and applied in cosmetic surgery. Isn't afraid of hell in the after-life a type of self-indulgence? Perhaps, I'm extending the meaning of the term used by the author of the article. If no, then again, I have to ask where to draw the line between self-indulgence from self-preservation (in this case, socially and culturally)?

My 2 other responses:

1) So far the author did not highlight cases where the patients' features are severely disfigured (like those who has nose cancer). For these patients, in order for them to lead a normal life back into the society, reconstruction surgery is needed (unless the author distinguish between 'reconstruction' from 'cosmetic' surgery. If this is the case, again I'm required to ask where to draw the line?).

2) So far the author didn't demonstrate any theological response to the issue. What she did is just pick out some verses and apply it to the issue. I'm not against this practice but such practice is often uncritical and premature when it comes to contemporary issues.

Alex's reply:
Hi Sze Zeng,

I like your critical reading of the article. Personally I read the article as an attempt to justify the narcissistic and self-indulgent elements of a society.

It is ridiculous to blame it all on 'duress' as if someone is forcing one to get a 'nip and tuck.' That's is shifting the blame to society. It is always a personal choice and it is time people take responsibility for their actions.

The various examples given are attempts for self justification. The pathetic attempt to use Scripture to defend one's positive shows the poor exegesis and the ignore the fact that Scripture is always counter-cultural.

I take the point that this is not reconstructive surgery which is a treatment modalities. This is normal individual chasing a fantasy and hoping that 'nip and tuck' will give the instant solution to their self-esteem and self-knowledge problems. Basically they need to know God and thus know themselves.

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