The Plastic Bride

I am a horrible person.

Being an extremely gullible individual, I love April Fool’s Day, because it’s finally my chance to play a prank on people and have them fall for it, too. (You’d think it would be the opposite… Believe me, I fall for my fair share of pranks every year!)

My pranks usually involve some sort of announcement on Facebook. One year, I was quitting my costuming hobby. Another year, I was moving to Florida. My favorite was when I said I was dropping out of my fashion program and transferring to Michigan State to pursue a degree in animal behaviorism – my entire network believed me and a lot of my friends at MSU were crushed when they found out I wouldn’t be attending school with them after all!

This year, though, I decided to do something a little more serious. I wanted to use this opportunity to learn something, to make it into a social experiment. A prank with a purpose.

I posted the following status yesterday afternoon:

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Needless to say my mom is not aware of her role in this prank. Because she would never give me the “go-ahead” for the fictional chin reduction and nose job I claimed I was getting.

Within four hours, it received over 40 comments, and I was also bombarded with private messages. Quite a few people were supportive of my decision, and the words of encouragement people gave me were extremely kind and generous.

But the majority of people were actively trying to convince me not to go through with the surgery, even going so far as to subtly shame me by saying they were “disappointed” that I was “insecure enough to get work done.” One girl even messaged me to say that she’d looked up to me as a role model, but after hearing that I was going to get plastic surgery, she couldn’t respect me anymore. And even though all of this was an elaborate prank, hearing that still crushed me – and I couldn’t help but think of how much more it would have hurt if I had really been considering surgery.

More than anything else, though, this experiment made me think about the brides who choose to get cosmetic surgery as part of their wedding beautification routine. Their “something new” may be a new nose, a new chin, or even a new bust to fill out their dress. When interviewed about their decision to do so, some brides say it’s because they “couldn’t face spending [their] big day stressing about how the pictures would turn out,” or because they wanted every aspect of their wedding to be perfect – including themselves.

Plastic surgery is becoming more and more prevalent every year. In 2011, the United States witnessed over 3 million cosmetic surgery procedures, ranking highest in the world. 1.2 million of those procedures were lipoplasty. Another 1.2 million were breast augmentations. Rhinoplasty came in 5th with over 478,000 operations. (source)

How many of these surgeries were done in preparation for weddings? The data isn’t out there due to confidentiality, but areas such as Tampa, Florida report increases in plastic surgeries when the wedding season approaches. The trend has become prevalent enough in our society that it garnered its own reality television show, “Bridalplasty“. Brides essentially competed against each other in order to win the ultimate prize: having their plastic surgery “wish list” granted before their wedding.

Granted, can we really be surprised? The pressure we put on brides to look their most beautiful on the day of their wedding is outrageous. From glamorous celebrity weddings to ridiculously Photoshopped photos in bridal magazines, women have been given the expectation that they should appear entirely flawless when they walk down the aisle. And if they look anything less than what they expect? It’s easy for them to let it ruin what should be a happy, joyous day.

How dare you have pores on your wedding day! How dare you! (Photo via Maggie Sottero.)

How dare you have pores on your wedding day! How dare you! (Photo via Maggie Sottero.)

The culture of plastic surgery is entangled with sexism and societal pressures, and I can’t say I’m 100% comfortable with the morality behind it, but I’m also a strong believer that people should have the right to make their own decisions regarding their bodies. And they should absolutely not be shamed for making those decisions.

During my little Facebook experiment, I received an incredible amount of support from my friends who were glad that I was doing something to make myself happy, but that was significantly overshadowed by the numerous guilt-trips I was put through that made me feel like utter trash for even considering having cosmetic surgery.

To think of a bride putting herself through that sort of criticism right before her wedding… I can’t imagine it. But for many brides, the results are worth it, and in that case, I’m happy that they’re able to feel self-confident on their wedding day!

How do you feel about the “bridalplasty” trend? Did you do it, or are you considering it in the future? Or are you a firmly against going under the knife for cosmetic purposes, especially to change how you’d look for your wedding?

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