Plastic surgery has become an obsession for Lacey Wildd and Justin Jedlica. Lacey Wildd raised $23,000 through her internet fans in order to have a breast augmentation to take her from a LLL cup to a Q. Her kids have expressed concern about the potential for a life-threatening infection and tearing. Her size-LLL boobs weigh 21 pounds and they required a surgically-implanted pigskin bra to hold them up -- her new implants will be 42 pounds and will require who knows what. And then there's the bullying her kids recieve.
Wildd explains that it’s not about fame for her. She grew up poor and wanted her kids to have a better life. “I want to provide for my kids and pay for a college education, so they have opportunities I didn't have,” she said.
At 32 years old, Justin Jedlica has undergone 90 different surgeries to become a self-described “human Ken doll.” The surgeries, totaling over $100,000 so far, have resulted in what doctors call a “life-threatening” amount of implanted silicone. Jedlica says of his surgeries, "I love to metamorphosize myself, and the stranger the surgery the better. Bucking the norm is so much fun."
Our culture is fascinated with this, whether it’s articles, videos or even television shows like The Swan. We want to know how big will her breasts be, what surgery will he choose next, what will she think the first time she sees herself after having multiple plastic surgeries and liposuction? People cluck their tongues and wonder in the comments: “What is wrong with them?”
I would say that’s not the question. The question is “What’s wrong with society?” This is a product of a society that says that you can make more money doing the same job if you have bigger boobs. This is the product of a society that will help her pay for a boob job it knows is dangerous! It’s the product of a culture that says that a plastic doll is the ultimate in male beauty. It’s the product of a culture that suggests that we fight the natural process of aging using the very unnatural process of having silicon put in and fat sucked out. The issue is a society that is obsessed with youth and a single stereotype of beauty. Justin claims to be “bucking the norm” with “strange surgeries,” but in fact he is an extreme example of pursuing the norm with surgeries that are becoming ever more popular.
Many commenters suggested that Lacey and Justin need help. I think society needs help. We could help them and ourselves by stopping this ridiculous obsession of stereotypical outer beauty, instead realizing that the ability to perceive beauty is a skill, so if we can’t see beauty in someone it’s because our skill set is not sufficiently developed, not because they aren’t beautiful. We could help ourselves by creating a culture where that last sentence wouldn’t cause people to go into a fit of justification of the status quo (Evolutionary Psychology! Symmetry! Health!). Lacey and Justin are products of a culture, and it’s the culture, not the products, that needs the examination and criticism.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.