When I couldn't escape the news of Heidi Montag's 10 plastic surgery procedures this week
, it brought back memories of my own foray into self-improvement: Five years ago, at age 20, I, too, went under the knife.
And the similarities don't end there. Like Heidi, I'm a blonde newlywed in my mid-20s, living in the Los Angeles area -- that's me at left, next to her.
Also like Heidi, I see the entertainment industry's constant "push for perfection."
I can truly relate to the quest, as she puts it, "to be the best I can be."
Young women around the world may look at Heidi as the "ultimate Barbie beauty," but for whatever reason, she doesn't seem to see herself that way. Perhaps she, like me, is dealing with a deeper insecurity. And I can't help wondering if hers is fueled by the manipulation of her husband Spencer, who has a reputation for a wandering eye.
In my case, I was really confident and happy with my body until I turned 18 and started to do commercial modeling. Most of the girls I worked with had breast implants. At the time, I was a 34B cup, which I had always thought to be perfect for my size four frame
. But although I was one of the prettiest girls and had a great personality, none of that seemed to matter next to a set of double-Ds. There seemed to be a direct correlation between the girls getting the best jobs and the size of their breasts.
One day I was feeling self-conscious about my weight, and implants seemed like a quick fix: I was under the impression that because so many women were getting them, the procedure must be very simple ... kind of like getting a chemical peel.
I didn't tell any of my friends, because I was somewhat embarrassed and didn't want to make a big deal out of it. The only person I confided in was my mom, and she encouraged me. "It will look great on you and probably help balance out your body," she said.
Mom's comment at the time brought me back another five years, to the time she
had gone under the knife for implants. She pulled me aside 10 hours before her procedure and said, "Studies show that when mothers get implants, it often causes their daughters to develop eating disorders and have self-esteem issues ... I just want to make sure that doesn't happen to you."
Although I assured her I would be fine, her concerns turned out to be accurate: The combination of our two conversations ultimately swayed me toward my decision to go through with my own surgery.
After I did, I went into a mild state of shock. It's hard to prepare yourself for a heavy pair of foreign objects lying on your chest like a set of 5-lb. dumbbells! A few weeks went by, and I noticed my posture getting worse. I used to stand up straight, and stick my chest out: As a 34B, it was a little bit femme fatale, but not overwhelming. That, too, with surgery, had changed. Now I felt uncomfortable and almost ashamed of what I had done, and my lack of confidence was reflected in my posture.
A few close friends picked up on my change in size. I tried to cover it up by saying I had been eating a lot of chicken with hormones in it. Crazy, I know. They, of course, didn't buy that story, so I confessed.
And the ripple effect of my new rack extended beyond my own self-consciousness. My younger sister was resentful and angry when she found out. She has always looked up to me, and in her mind, this meant she was going to be judged and compared to me unfairly.
Five years later, I am pretty neutral about my decision to get the surgery done. In some ways, it probably has brought on even more insecurity, since it focuses on the pursuit of outward perfection instead of true inner beauty.
And I also think plastic surgery can be addictive. For my mom, this has been a slippery slope, causing a nonstop plastic surgery binge since the day she started. She now constantly critiques herself and is never quite satisfied with her looks. She continues to partake in a never-ending series of nose jobs, Botox treatments and mini-face-lifts.
Since my boob job, I've often pondered and obsessed about getting other procedures done, simply because my plastic surgeon recommended them for me. I took his recommendations to imply that I wasn't "good enough" yet.
If I could do it all over again, I probably would have spent my time and money dealing with my root self-esteem issues instead of using breast implants as a quick-fix Band-Aid. I think it's important to love your body the way God made it.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I'm now 100 percent against cosmetic surgery. After all, my husband has always appreciated the results. But it's very important to dig deep and ask yourself the real reason you want to change your appearance.
Is your motivation just to get more attention or acceptance from the people around you? Are you making external changes in an attempt to fix some kind of inner void? If these are your motivations, I have bad news for you: You're likely to be disappointed by how the implants make you feel inside.
In retrospect, I feel that I may have sold out for the wrong reasons. I have always prided myself on setting my own standards in life and not buying into the unrealistic expectations and pressures of society. I made the decision at an age when my views would inevitably change drastically in the following years.
Although it's been OK having the implants, I have experienced complications such as hardening and a loss of sensation. I'm also troubled by statistics showing that once you've gotten breast augmentation, you will have to have the procedure redone at least two to three times in your lifetime to maintain the desired result.
Despite my second thoughts, I have lots of friends who couldn't be happier about their implants. In many cases, it did wonders for their confidence, because they feel more feminine and sexually attractive. As a woman, I understand the importance of this.
In the end, I've concluded that the decision to get implants is absolutely right for some women, absolutely wrong for others. So whatever we may think of Heidi Montag's recent rash of procedures, I guess we'll have to leave those decisions to her. Editors Note: Still want more? Check out what this mother and health writer
has to say about Heidi's procedures.
Molly Stokas has been a promotional model for Ferrari imports and featured in many nationally broadcast commercials. She enjoys traveling the world, dancing, and writing about the follies of her youth.
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