The one thing we have total dominion over is our own bodies. We must fight for that, it is imperative to everything I believe in. This is the defining principle of freedom.
I have been thinking about and defending women’s choices with regards to their bodies for a longtime but perhaps not as even handly as I would have liked to think. I have always defend the right to abortion, the right to sex and sexuality, the right to dress without that being an accepted cultural provocation for rape and sexual assault and the right for women to moderate and adorn their bodies as they choose free of scorn, ridicule and comment from strangers about how they should be doing so. However, with this latter one, I have had my doubts about supporting the practice of cosmetic surgery because I see the influences behind the decision to have it as insidious.
I have definitely viewed cosmetic surgery as a negative symptom of the beauty propaganda that is part of female population control. I saw those who got cosmetic surgery as those who had unfortunately internalised cultural negativity about their bodies and were prepared to cut themselves up to conform to it’s deliberately unattainable demands for female body perfection. Breast augmentation was popular it was pushing a conformity towards one body type as what is sexy on a woman. Small breasts are incredibly sexy to me and so I have been saddened when women I’ve known have decided to go for augmentation. I felt rhinoplasty was often the hatred of noses of different ethnicities, rhytidectomy the hatred of older woman, the denial of their mature beauty and so on. I especially saw labiaplasty as cunt hatred. I did look down on cosmetic surgery as a solution and a choice but I have changed my opinion. Cosmetic surgery is a solution women have found to unrealistic beauty demands put on them. Popular ideals of beauty are not diverse and women are savagely critiqued for not living up to the expectation of beauty. However, women are just as heavily criticised for “faking it” also. The demand is that women work incredibly hard behind the scenes to achieve a “natural” or “real” beauty that is in fact totally constructed. This insistence that it look “natural” is so that it can be assumed to be natural in a tyrannical way and thus perpetuates the expectation. These culturally enforced “natural/real” standard of beauty for women is behind people’s repulsion to what is actually natural for women, like body hair under the arms, on the legs and on the vulva. Cosmetic surgery that is considered and critiqued as “unnatural/fake” beauty actually subverts these expectations and allows women to manipulate their bodies as they wish in defiance of a culture that wishes them to feel constantly inadequate for not living up to this UNREAListic and UNNATURAL expectations of what they should look like “naturally”. It is no different to getting a tattoo which I love adorning my body with. Looking down on cosmetic surgery as an option is looking down on women who choose it. I won’t tolerate this of myself.
I can support a person’s right to safe, legal abortion without ANY shame and I can have an abortion whilst also wanting and working towards changing circumstances (like lack of access to effective contraception methods, inadequate sex education or abstinence only sex education for teens) that bring about a high rate of unwanted pregnancies. This is perfectly logical to me and I see no contradiction. However, I had formerly felt there was a contradiction for me in supporting women’s choices for cosmetic surgery without ANY shame and also wanting to prevent the culture that creates an obsession with female beauty that makes a lot of women miserable and creates body hatred and it’s associated ailments. I can see now that cosmetic surgery relates to a woman’s body image autonomy in exactly the same way that abortion relates to a woman’s reproductive body autonomy. I can fight for women to know their vulvas, to love their vulvas and to see more of other women’s vulvas before they opt for surgery without that being a condemnation of surgery or the choice to have surgery.
So I have been noticing that many feminist producers of porn/new wave erotica/ adult movies have made the decision to exclude women who have had breast augmentation. Claiming those women are not real women. Whilst I agree that cosmetically altered women’s bodies have been overrepresented in mainstream porn, I don’t think that excluding those women, their bodies and their choices from feminist porn is any better. I believe all women’s bodies should be included and represented and none should be shunned or shamed as “fake” or “less than”. So I am opening www.LiandraDahl.com up even more to be even more inclusive of all bodies whatever shapes, sizes, colours, genders, moderations they have. Come one, come all.