A Treatise on Plastic Surgery


If it’s controversial, I’m going to write about it sooner or later- y’all should know that by now. And what could be more controversial than plastic surgery? Well, a lot actually. Nonetheless it’s definitely a topic that’s sure to raise a few eyebrows & has a lot of grey areas. There are a couple of reasons why this subject has been on my mind recently. First, I’ve seen an increase in the number of patients coming in for surgical clearance for plastic surgery at my job over the past few years. Second, I’ve seen an increasing number of my own acquaintances undergoing plastic surgery. Third, Rammstein, the infamous German metal band, recently released a new song called Zick Zack which is a critique of our society’s obsession with plastic surgery (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBTNyJ33LWI). And yes, it’s exactly as humorous & grotesque & profound as you would expect it to be, coming from Rammstein. Last, over the past few months I’ve been trying to FINALLY finish watching the TV series New Girl (yes, I know it’s been off the air for years now), & I’m currently on season five which guest stars Megan Fox who has become something of a poster child for plastic surgery (https://mostcommonplasticsurgery.com/megan-fox-plastic-surgery-before-and-after/). There’s no denying that she’s gorgeous, but I just can’t look at her without feeling like her face screams “fake!” And when I look back at old pictures of her, she was ALWAYS gorgeous anyway. It seems a symptom of a greater disease that someone like her would feel so compelled to surgically alter her face over & over again . . .

Anyway, before I go any further, let me remind you that, as always, I speak for no one other than myself here. I make no claims to be perfect or to have special wisdom on any subject. I don’t expect, or even want, everyone to agree with me. I write these kinds of posts simply to clear my own mind & to encourage discussion & critical thinking. That’s it. Furthermore, when speaking of plastic surgery in this post I am NOT referring to the following things: plastic surgery done because of scars, burns, or other traumatic injuries; mole removals (even if done purely for cosmetic reasons); breast reductions; breast implants done in the context of breast cancer (or even in the context of an elective mastectomy to prevent breast cancer). Nor am I referring to rhinoplasty done in the context of surgery to fix other nasal problems (e.g. deviated septum). If you have to go under the knife anyway, why not get a little more out of it? I think most of us can understand that.

What I AM talking about are breast augmentation, liposuction, Brazilian butt lifts, rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), face lifts, etc that are performed PURELY for cosmetic reasons. Now, far be it from me to deem any of these procedures right or wrong, good or evil, or to say they should be illegal. If you’re reading this & you’ve chosen to undergo one of these procedures yourself, far be it from me to judge you for it. One of my core beliefs as a libertarian is that we all own our own bodies & can & should be able to do with them as we please. If that means surgically changing them, well, that’s our right.

HOWEVER, I also think that we as a society need to think about the greater implications of these things. What kind of message are we sending our children, especially girls, when we reinforce the idea that a “perfect” body is necessary for happiness? What does it say about our society when so many adults hate their own bodies so much or feel so unhappy with them that they are willing to take on all the risks of surgery to “fix” them? And how many people undergoing these procedures actually understand all the risks they’re taking? For example, in recent years I’ve seen an increase in the number of stories about women having breast implants removed due to a myriad of health problems associated with them. Former racecar driver Danica Patrick just shared her own story about this a few days ago (https://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2022/05/04/danica-patrick-former-racer-opens-up-breast-implant-illness-instagram-post). In fact, there have been so many issues related to breast implants that they now come with a black box warning from the FDA. Does that mean I think they should be illegal? Absolutely not. But it DOES mean that women need to have a much greater understanding of the risks they’re taking. As one doctor pointed out in an article I read about this yesterday, if you’re going to have the surgery, you better make sure you have the money not just for the implantation but also to have them removed in case that becomes necessary in the future. Having them removed can be even more expensive than the initial surgery, which is something most women don’t realize.

I know a lot of people say “What’s the harm in doing something that makes you love yourself more?” No doubt that argument is very tempting. But where does it end? It’s a slippery slope if you ask me. Sure, there are things about me I’d have changed if I’d been able to construct my own face/body. But that’s not how life works. I think one of our biggest life lessons is learning to love ourselves as we are, even if the reflection in the mirror isn’t exactly what we want to see all the time. Does this mean we should never take action to lose weight or gain muscle or generally get ourselves healthier or in better shape? Absolutely not. But it does mean that we need to value ourselves for more than our physical appearance. After all, physical beauty is NOT paramount.

If you’re lived longer than about 25 years, you should know by now that external beauty is not the “be all end all” of existence. When life gets hard, you are not going to care one bit if your partner has six pack abs or DD perfectly perky breasts. That’s not to say that physical attraction isn’t important in relationships. We are animals after all- so of course it is. But we are also capable of a lot more than just animal lust. You can’t sustain a relationship long term if the only attraction is physical. (It’s entirely possible that a great example of that is playing out in the courtrooms right now with Johnny Depp & Amber Heard.) In the end, a person’s sense of humor, their goals & ambition, their compassion & empathy- these are the things that, when combined with physical attraction, will keep a relationship going for years & years. And yes, I am speaking from experience but you certainly don’t have to trust me. I think most adults will admit this. And it’s not even just about romantic relationships. Self-love that is actually sustaining & mature must necessarily be based on a lot more than just physical appearance as well. After all, the most important relationship any of us will ever have, the one that shapes & informs all of our other relationships, is the one we have with ourselves.

If I’m being perfectly honest, do I wish my stomach were as flat as it was before Rachel? (Who am I kidding- it was never perfectly flat- but it was flatter than it is now.) Yes, the truth is I do wish that. But am I going to surgically alter my body to change it? No way! Did I use a topical cream to aid in “erasing” my pregnancy stretch marks? I sure did. But that has no potential for long-term consequences. There is no inherent risk with that like there is with surgery. Do I wish my ribcage & hips would go back to their “original” dimensions (what they were pre-baby)? Yes, sometimes I do. But my husband certainly doesn’t care. And if it doesn’t affect his attraction to me, why should it affect MY attraction to me, if you know what I mean? I never want to have to tell my daughter that I surgically altered my body because I didn’t like the way it looked after it carried her. What an incredibly damaging message that would send to her! I never want her to think she ruined my body because she didn’t. And I never want her to think that she isn’t good enough exactly as she is. So if that means living with my own “less than perfect” body, so be it.

Again, this isn’t meant to demean or judge anyone who has had plastic surgery or is considering it. But I do wish people would stop & think about the long-term consequences, both physical & emotional, of these things, & the messages we’re sending to each other when these kinds of procedures are normalized. I would ask you to ask yourself- “Is this REALLY going to make me happy or am I just covering up for some greater internal self-hate that I don’t want to face? And I am willing to face the consequences if I have to have this reversed or experience complications related to the procedure?I’m all about people making informed choices, even if they choose very differently than I would/do.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter. I sincerely hope this came across as nonjudgmental because that’s how I meant it. I just want to spark conversations & critical thinking about a subject that I think has become far too normalized & even celebrated as somehow being an empowering thing to do.

Best Albums of 2019


Yeah, yeah, I know it’s halfway through June- almost halfway through the year, & here I am JUST NOW getting around to writing my annual best albums post for the previous year. But hey, that’s life with a very spirited, challenging 3 year old. (Then again what 3 year old isn’t spirited & demanding?)

Anyway, aside from my # 1 choice, these are really in no particular order.

P.S. It should probably go without saying but many of these albums are not for delicate ears/sensibilities. Many come with an explicit label- or would if they were actually sold in mainstream stores like Wal-Mart. Listen at your own discretion.

  1. Disguise by Motionless in White: I loved MIW’s third album Reincarnate so much that I honestly thought there was no way they’d ever top that one, for me anyway. But then came Disguise. Woah, just woah! Both lyrically & musically MIW really blew it out of the water on this one, but especially lyrically. Lead vocalist & principle songwriter Chris Motionless has stated that he really focused more on the lyrics on this album & it absolutely shows. It’s very hard for me to choose a favorite on this one but if I had to choose one, it would be Another Life. The words are hauntingly beautiful while the melody is truly infectious, making the perfect combination for a song that is sure to be stuck in your head for a long time. Other highlights include the title track, hard-hitting Thoughts & Prayers, & Undead Ahead 2 which is based off of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow & is also a follow up to a song on their debut album. Also don’t miss the sarcastic & witty Brand New Numb. But truly there isn’t a bad song on this album, not a single song that isn’t well written in every aspect. And that is why it’s my choice for #1 album of the year.miw disguise
  2. Untitled by Rammstein: Confession: this is actually my first Rammstein album. I knew a handful of their songs before this album but never liked any of them enough to actually buy a full album. But then I heard Deutschland on satellite radio & instantly I was blown away by just how raw & powerful it was. The music video, as usual, was controversial but in my opinion is a fantastic portrayal of Germany’s history. The piano part that ends the video (not the actual song on the album) is also hauntingly beautiful & I believe it actually comes from one of their earlier albums. Then there is the almost dance-like Radio which is infectiously catchy & will most definitely get stuck in your head. Other stand-out tracks include Auslander & the surprising ballad Diamant. I understand no more than maybe five words of German but this album is proof that music is universal. You don’t have to understand the lyrics to feel the power of the music & the emotions behind it.rammstein
  3. Gereg by The Hu: While we’re on the subject of international music in languages other than English, let’s discuss the break-out debut album from this Mongolian band. When it comes to most unique sound, this album definitely takes the cake. Mongolian throat singing combined with traditional Mongolian instruments & fused with rock & roll- you got it! If you think that sounds bizarre & unlikely to please the ears, you couldn’t be more wrong. Well, maybe it IS bizarre- but that only makes it all the more interesting. I first came across a remix version of Wolf Totem featuring Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach while listening to something else on YouTube while at the gym one day. That lead me to check out the original version & I was immediately in awe- & in love. Also be sure to check out Shoog Shoog & Yuve Yuve Yu.the gereg the hu
  4. What You See Is What You Get by Luke Combs: After the first three you might not have been expecting to see a country album on this list but Luke Combs is way too good not to mention. This album is chock full of great songs- 17 of them to be specific! From start to finish Luke’s second album is full of brutally honest lyrics & story telling that definitely channel the spirit of his idol & fellow North Carolinian Eric Church (who just so happens to be my favorite country singer). In fact there is even a song featuring guest vocals from Church. It’s very hard to pick favorites but be sure to check out the upbeat Beer Never Broke My Heart & Angels Working Overtime as well as the more somber Dear Today. All Over Again is another great one that gets stuck in my head all the time. There is something so truly “every man” about Luke Combs that you just cannot help but like the guy even if country music isn’t your normal taste.luke combs
  5. Who Do You Trust? by Papa Roach: The follow up to 2017’s Crooked Teeth is a real blend of the different variations this band has explored over the past two decades. The best testament to the strength of this album is that I heard three of the songs for the first time live & immediately fell in love with all of them- so much so in fact that I ordered the album from my phone right there during the concert! Those three songs, in case you’re wondering, are still some of my favorites off the album: Feel Like Home, Renegade Music, & Come Around. The title track is also incredibly relevant for our world today, perhaps even more so now than when it was released last year. Though it’s less than 1.5 minutes long, the very punk rock track I Suffer Well is a fun addition to the album, particularly in contrast to the more hip hop influenced songs like Elevate. While this album could perhaps be accused of being a bit disjointed & not “flowing” super well, it’s still a fantastic addition to the Papa Roach catalog. P.S. If you haven’t seen Papa Roach live, as soon as we’re allowed to have concerts again, DO IT. Nevermind that these guys are in their 40s now- they have more energy & intensity than many bands half their age.papa roach
  6. Hotel Diablo by Machine Gun Kelly: Ok, so you probably weren’t expecting a rap album on this list either but here it is. To be honest I wasn’t expecting a rap album to ever make one of my annual best albums lists, but then I discovered this jewel by MGK. Truthfully I’ve forgotten quite how I got into this album but I’m pretty sure it involved going down a YouTube wormhole which probably led me to the last song on the album which is actually not a rap song at all. That song, I Think I’m Okay, is still my favorite from this disc. Other great tracks include Hollywood Whore, El Diablo, & Death in My Pocket. Rap will never be my favorite genre by a long shot but there is a rawness, honesty, & cleverness to MGK’s lyrics that I can’t help but love. It probably helps that he actually plays guitar & clearly has an appreciation for rock. In fact he’s actually just made a pop/rock/punk album entitled Tickets to My Downfall & I for one can’t wait for its release next month.hotel diablo
  7. 21st Century Liability by Yungblud: I discovered this album as a direct result of the previous one on this list. MGK’s I think I’m Okay features Yunglud & after watching the music video for that song I was immediately intrigued by this obviously unique young man. By the way, it turns out MGK & Yungblud have actually become great friends & are absolutely hilarious together (search YouTube for some great videos of them). If you’re offended by outspoken British dudes in pink socks who occasionally wear dresses, then Yungblud definitely isn’t for you. But it’d be a real shame to miss out on the wit & charm that is Yungblud. Standout tracks on this quirky record include Die For the Hype, Polygraph Eyes, & the title track. yungblud album
  8. N.A.T.I.O.N. by Bad Wolves: The second album by Bad Wolves comes across as an even more polished version of this clearly talented group of men. Outspoken lead singer Tommy Vext has quickly become one of my favorite rock stars, largely because he is so impossible to pigeon hole. He is truly a man who thinks for himself & says whatever he wants, regardless of what anyone else may think. But back to the album: there are plenty of great heavier tracks like No Messiah & I’ll Be There but I think my favorite is the deeply personal & more somber track Sober. Vext’s soulful voice really shines on songs like this where the emotions are so strong they’re almost palpable.bad wolves
  9. I, The Mask by In Flames: Confession: I knew almost nothing about legendary Swedish metalers In Flames until I started hearing I Am Above on Octane & Liquid Metal last year. After that I was instantly hooked, bought the album, & even saw them live when they came to Raleigh. There isn’t a bad song on this album but some of my other favorites include the slow burning Stay With Me which starts off soft & gentle but builds into a real powerhouse by the end & Follow Me which follows a similar pattern. Call My Name is also excellent.i the mask
  10. Southern Hostility by Upon a Burning Body: UABB will always be among my top choices for underrated bands. These Texans deserve so much more attention than they get. This entire album makes for a great work-out soundtrack. I for one can’t wait to get back to jamming to this at the gym someday . . . Anyway, vocalist Danny Leal’s screams are in top form on this album. Be sure to check out Reinventing Hatred, King of Diamonds, & From Darkness.uabb southern

Honorable mentions:

  • Earth & Sky by Of Mice & Men
  • Walk the Sky by Alter Bridge
  • The Ghost of Ohio by Andy Black
  • Shades of Blue by Danny Worsnop
  • High Crimes by The Damned Things