Friday, October 05, 2007

The Mom Job

No, I am not going to write about the difficulties inherent to raising children, or proposals for renumeration for mothers, or the lack of respect given to mothers who do the important work of raising children. Nope. What I am going to write about today is the new plastic surgery craze--the "Mommy Job" described yesterday in the Fashion & Style (!?!) of the NYTimes.

Look, I am pretty ambivalent about plastic surgery. I don't tend to take the hardline against plastic surgery, claiming that it is micropolitical enactment of patriarchy (see, for example, Sandra Bartky, "Foucault, femininity and the modernization of patriarchal power" in I. Diamond & L. Quinby (eds), Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance, Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1988 ). Nor do I take up what I think is a rather silly and naive view of feminism as 'all about choice." (See Echidne on this). I can't really say I have a coherent position on this, other than it being a rather pervasive technological innovation to the age old human quest for human perfectability.

Having put that disclaimer out there, I am pretty pissed off at the "mommy job." I agree wholeheartedly with this assessment of the procedure:

Many women struggle with the impact of aging and pregnancy on their bodies. But the marketing of the “mommy makeover” seeks to pathologize the postpartum body, characterizing pregnancy and childbirth as maladies with disfiguring aftereffects that can be repaired with the help of scalpels and cannulae.

“The message is that, after having children, women’s bodies change for the worse,” said Diana Zuckerman, the president of the National Research Center for Women and Families, a nonprofit group in Washington. If marketing could turn the postpregnancy body “into a socially unacceptable thing, think of how big your audience would be and how many surgeries you could sell them,” she said.

Like I have enough shit to worry about that I have to now endure the remaking of the postpregnancy body as repugnant. Don't new mommies have enough to worry about?

But, what is also so odd to me about this story and the phenomena of the "mommy job," is how damn expensive it is: between $10,000 and $30,000. Who can afford this but the Paris Hilton (or should I say Nicole Ritchie?) set or others willing to put themselves in needless debt--robbing their children's college fund--to combat a fictionalized malady.

Is there anything left in this culture that doesn't need to be fixed, remade, or reinvented? Is everything really for sale? That is what is dawning on me now, more than ever. Sure, lots of other people wised up to the horrors of our consumer society. It took me having a child and facing the anxieties associated with new motherhood--not to mention too much time to watch TV and its self-esteem robbing advertisements--to finally get to the point where enough is enough. We don't need so much damn shit. And, we don't need to turn our postpartum bodies into a new kind of commodity either.

Ok, I am done with my rant.