THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS AN 'IDEAL BODY TYPE'
When I was younger, my mom and I walked two blocks from our place in Los Sures (South Williamsburg) to a Dominican hair salon, every Sunday. I heard all types of conversation at the salon; there were conversations about hairstyles and, of course, the latest gossip in Los Sures. As a little girl trying to act like an adult, I’d always enjoy eavesdropping on these conversations.
Plastic surgery was a hot topic during these Sunday salon sessions, and one of my favorite topics. Many of the adult women during my childhood had undergone some sort of cosmetic surgery, and I found it fascinating. Ortencia, my hair stylist, would ask me, “Diana, que te quiere’ hacer cuando tu sea grande?”, or, “Diana, what do you want to do when you’re older?”; I’d reply, “Hacerme la lipo!”, or, “Get a lipo[suction]!”.
I know what you’re thinking… How could a four year old even know what a liposuction is? Liposuctions and other kinds of cosmetic surgeries, like breast augmentation or lifts, were/are very common amongst the community of Dominican women I grew up around; so, to four year old me, it seemed natural to want one in order to be beautiful. A lot of times the women around me did these surgeries after having a child, or because they wanted to have an enhanced figure. They felt that surgery was the only way to get a beautiful body. This feeling often originates with the way the Dominican media portrays women.
The way that Dominican media presents women is quite damaging. Women in music videos, magazines, and television (like Telemicro) have a certain body type (curvy and thick, with flat stomachs and toned limbs). The media presents this body type as the ideal, and often times the only way to achieve this body type is through surgery. It’s the reason why four year old me aspired to getting enough money to get a liposuction. Women are constantly getting surgery in the Dominican Republic, despite the growing health concerns.
The Dominican Republic is a hotspot for plastic surgery because the doctors are known for going ‘above and beyond’ during cosmetic procedures, and Dominican society praises the ‘slim thick’ body type, but these procedures often come with a risk. This summer alone, eight women residing in NYC have contracted infections after having cosmetic surgeries in the Dominican Republic. (http://nypost.com/2017/06/22/nyc-women-contracted-infections-from-cosmetic-surgeries-in-dominican-republic/ )
I want to be clear about something: I am not here to bash women who get plastic surgery, nor am I here to govern what women should and shouldn’t do with their bodies. I’m here to bash society’s impossible standards on what a woman’s body should look like. Society treats the bodies of women like commodities; one day the slim Barbie figure is trending, the next it’s the ‘slim thick’ Nicki Minaj body. Men, especially, play a role in defining the ‘ideal body’, but they also shame women who undergo surgery to achieve the ‘ideal look’. Society makes women feel insecure or like they aren’t enough, with or without plastic surgery. Women should be able to decide for themselves what kind of body they want, and the kind of body they think is perfect. There’s no such thing as an ‘ideal body type’.