Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

So here I am in the midst of trying to be more self-accepting when I see Heidi Montag featured on the cover of People magazine after having so much plastic surgery that she looks nothing like her former self.

I have no problem with people who want to improve their appearance. We all do it. I just prefer the paint-on or strap-on version (I’m talking about a padded bra, hello) so I can take it off when it gets uncomfortable. I mean, hair and nails grow back.

While Montag is clearly a very disturbed little girl, the really disturbing thing is there are doctors out there willing to perform 10 different procedures in one day on a 23-year-old woman. It’s disturbing that there are magazines that are willing to put it on the cover for other young women to see. And it’s disturbing that we as a society have gotten to the point where our standards for beauty are so exaggerated and perverse that the only way to achieve that look is to manufacture it. So in the end, everyone looks the same, like living dolls.

I’ve had plenty of friends undergo plastic surgery, and these procedures are no joke. No matter what the doctor tells you, the recovery is always 10 times worse than they say it’s going to be. The New York Times recently reported that the majority of cosmetic procedures are “re-dos” when patients aren’t happy with the results the first time around and want to go back in and fix it.

When you mess with Mother Nature, she’s going to turn around and spank your ass. That’s just the way it is.

I’ve also had plenty of friends that had things fixed because they really needed to be fixed: a bump from a broken nose, saggy boobs from breast feeding, or maybe baby fat that stayed fat long after baby, and now they look great.

And believe you me, I’ve had plenty of people suggest I get plastic surgery.

When I was living in San Diego, I went to a dermatologist to give me a prescription cream for my zits, and the next thing I know, she’s hell bent on selling me lipo.

“You are the perfect candidate,” she said, squeezing my sides and my pulling up my shirt to examine my belly. “You are very muscular and have excellent skin elasticity. But you’re NEVER going to get rid of that pooch belly. NEVER!”

She gave me all the literature, and it described how they fill you up with this anesthetic fluid so they can separate the fat from your major organs or whatever. So after surgery, you have to wear maxi pads on your belly and sit on towels because the fluid just leaks out of you for at least a week. After all that, having a little bit of a pooch belly seemed like a much more appealing option.

The best story, though, is the time I paid $250 for a private consult with this fancy speech pathologist who came to our Bikram Yoga teacher training in Hawaii.

She gave us this big talk and told us how we project our voice is like the most important thing in terms of how we are perceived by the world. I remember sitting close enough to notice this woman, whose name I have voluntarily forgotten, looked like she had fake teeth and one of those waxy-looking faces as a result of one too many Botox injections and thinking how weird it was she was at our yoga training.

I signed up for a private session with her because I figured it was an opportunity to work with someone renowned. And besides, everyone is always complaining about how I mumble.

“There’s no way any therapist can accomplish anything with a new patient in a half-hour,” my mom said. “You’re wasting your money.”

But I decided since I was at yoga camp I should make my own decisions and not always listen to what my mommy says.

So I go to her hotel room and spend 15 minutes talking about myself when she finally interrupts me.

“Honey, you are going places!” she says, opening her arms wide like she’s going to give me a hug. “I know what you need!”

I’m thinking voice lessons or a good decongestant or a confidence-building speech, but instead she says, “Honey, you need a nose job! You have this cute little face and this cute little body, but your nose is WAY too big for your face!”

She starts scribbling on a piece of paper. “Oh! I’m going to give you the names of some of the most famous doctors in L.A.! Call them right away honey! Tell them I sent you!”

I did do that, and I did make an appointment only I never showed up. Don’t get me wrong, I think Ashlee Simpson’s nose looks amazing, and I’m sure her doctor is very capable and would be my first choice if I could afford the $12,000 price tag, but it’s like, my face. If I don’t like it, I can’t wash it off in the sink or unhook it. It’s for life.

Besides, I think it’s like opening Pandora’s Box. You fix one thing and then you want to fix another or maybe even fix the thing you thought was going to be fixed but only came out worse.

It’s not even so much about how beauty in this country is obtained as how it’s being defined. Whoever decided huge boobs and lips on a stick-thin body is attractive? Barbie was just meant to be a toy, people.

All I know is if I ever have a baby girl, the first thing I’m going to buy her is an ugly doll.

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