Kids forever, kids forever, baby soft skin turns into leather, don’t be dramatic, it’s only some plastic, no one will love you if you’re unattractive.
-Looking into the mirror, putting on mascara this morning I sang lightly to myself-
Oh Mrs. Potato Head tell me, is it true that pain is beauty? Does a new face come with a warranty? Will a pretty face make it better? Oh Mr. Potato Head tell me, how did you afford her surgery? Do you swear you’ll stay forever, even if her face don’t stay together?
“Mrs. Potato Head” by Melanie Martinez. I’m obsessed. And I’m obsessed because I think the subtext of what she’s saying is incredibly important. In this song, Melanie is talking about society’s beauty standards, how we can buy ourselves pretty. More importantly, she’s talking about the message society’s beauty standards sends to everyone, including little girls. At one point she even says it’s such a waste, when little girls grow into their mother’s face, but little girls are learning how to cut and paste, and pucker up their lips until they suffocate.
And it’s true- the world we currently live in says that anything can be bought if you’re willing to pay for it. Unfortunately, sometimes we’re paying with more than just our money. In the case of beauty, specifically plastic surgery, we’re paying with our self-worth, our heritage and our self-esteem.
Not to say that all plastic surgery makes people feel worse later on, but for people doing it purely for vanity (as opposed to doing it for reconstructive purposes), they rarely find satisfaction. Instead they pick themselves apart. 5, 10, 15 surgeries deep, and they’re still unsatisfied.
Because the surgery “fixed” the outside. It corrected the blemish(es) they were unhappy with the world being able to readily see. The outside gradually becomes a plastic paradise, the skin of a real, live Barbie doll.
What happens, then, when your skin is stiff and plastic, but your heart, mind, and soul are sincere and still capable of feeling? They are still living and breathing. They are still alive and able to move, even if the skin can hardly bend.
What about the beauty we can’t surgically correct? I think that’s why plastic surgery is so alluring- because if we can correct the beauty reflected on the outside, then we can trick people into believing that kind of beauty exists on the inside. However, I find that so often a fixed, physical beauty doesn’t accurately reflect the kind of person that exists inside. But, if we can change our outward appearance to make people believe that what’s outside matches what’s inside, it keeps us from having to do the heavy-lifting of actually working on ourselves. Our real, non-plastic selves.
Getting back to “Mrs. Potato Head” for a second, though, Melanie makes another good point that I see all too often around the university I attend. This idea that no one will love you if you’re unattractive. It’s untrue, of course. At least, we tell ourselves that it’s untrue. And I guess true love isn’t so much about physical attraction. But when you exist in a college culture, as I currently do, you soon discover that no one here is interested in love. They’re interested in sex, which too many people around here believe is a viable substitute. This feeds into a type of pretty girl culture, where you begin to believe that being pretty is of the utmost importance. I even heard some girls who lived in my dorm last year say they got turned away from a frat party because they “weren’t pretty enough.”
I buy into the importance of pretty girl culture for a hot second, until I remember that my self-worth is not and can never be defined by any number of frat boys. That I don’t want to be the object of their affection. In fact, I don’t want to be an object at all.
I want to be seen as a woman. A woman who is strong, smart, real, important, independent and beautiful (I think “beautiful” is much deeper than “pretty,” but we’ll have that conversation another time).
My point is that society likes to define beauty for us, and that sucks because it might keep people from thinking for themselves and deciding what beauty means to them. Instead we just go along with society’s definition, often forgetting that beauty is one of those strange entities that is entirely subjective. And I think that in-and-of itself is quite beautiful. I just wish more of the world bought into this. Until then, they will continue to buy into plastic surgery and that kind of shallow beauty.
I’ll be here, plastic-free, make-up free (most likely), and waiting.