Monday, January 18, 2010

Dear Heidi,

I feel a little weird writing you like this. I just wanted to talk. We don't know each other obviously. I'm a suburban mom. Two kids, a house, a mini-van, a dead cat buried in the backyard. The whole enchilada.

The thing is, I was in the supermarket the other day, picking up some salad things, some noshy Mediterranean bits for some friends who were coming to visit. Oh we had a good time, they just had a little baby girl who is beautiful. We went for a nice walk. It was a beautiful day. But I'll get back to the sweet little girl later. I'll get back to her and my own three year-old daughter and my eight nieces, and all my friends' daughters, and all the girls of the world. Later.

So while I was waiting in line to check out I saw you, or what used to be you on the cover of People magazine, with that giant headline, "Addicted to Plastic Surgery, 10 Procedures in 1 Day," etc. and so forth. It grabbed me the way a headline was designed to. More than Haiti even, and Haiti has grabbed me too. But I was riveted to your story. See, I'm not going to accuse you of being shallow. I come here to be brutally honest, which is why I'm writing to you today.

I didn't buy the magazine then, I wanted to, but I don't usually buy People. I'm more of an Us Weekly girl. Heavy on celebs, no human interest stories to be found. That's what I like. The funny thing is, as I slipped the magazine back into its wire cradle I looked up to see a woman paying for her groceries. She looked to be in her forties like me, I'm forty, but she was on the fifties side of the forties, not the thirties side that I cling to desperately, especially when I'm hormonal. Anyway, she had work done. She could barely blink her eyes were so pulled open, you know in that weird way where you can see white all around the iris. She also looked like she'd had her nose done, and her lips, and was wearing colored contacts. Blue of course. Peroxided hair. That woman carved all the Jew out of herself so she could look like a shiksa. But I'm not here to talk religion, though I did read that you are deeply religious. Which I find fascinating.

Okay, so I went back later that night to buy the magazine. And some ice cream that was on special. Ka-ching! Do you eat ice cream anymore? And I raced home to read all about you and your ten plastic surgery procedures and how you almost died and how your head felt like there was a jackhammer on it and how your husband Spencer was not so into you doing all this to yourself, but that God WAS into it big time, and how you don't care what people think, but the bloggers blogging about your chin really bothered you, bothered you to the point where you cut your chin off, or rather you hired that doctor to do it, since it would be stupid to try that at home. See, I'm not here to call you stupid either.

Okay, I'm going to come clean. I've considered having work done. I scrutinize in the mirror with the best of them. I've got a running list. I'm not going to tell you what's on it though because then you'd look at me, and go, oh yeah, I can see that. And then I'd feel insecure around you, and things would be awkward. But you can imagine. I've gone so far to have consultations even, where the doctor draws on you and you feel like one of those place mats you'd find in a steakhouse, the one of the cow with the dotted lines bisecting and traversing every which way. And I've always left those consultations (I've had two) feeling conflicted. Because on one hand, you have the possibility of finally not being bothered by that niggling thing that bothered you before, and you'll possibly fall head over heels in love with your new self and the world will too but they won't quite know why and it's so freeing that you want to dance topless on the tables.

But on the other hand you've got the potential for something to go, well if not really wrong, as in dying wrong, you've got the potential for weird bulges, dents and lumps that would make you even more insecure, that would throw your entire identity into this obsessive plastic universe where you're constantly strategizing your next move and suddenly you're not an interesting person anymore, you're someone with a mental disorder, plus you feel weird around your friends who thought you looked great to begin with and were crazy to mess with what nature gave you and then they start to feel insecure, thinking that you think they need to fix something.

And then there's the money. The four thousand or thirty thousand you could have saved for your kids' education, or spent traveling the world and finding out that there is so much more to you and to the world than physical attractiveness, even in Hollywood, which you implicate in your reason to do what you did, even though we all know that so many amazing talented stars did not drastically change the very shape of their face to the point where they are unrecognizable, okay well Jennifer Grey got that nose job, and it ended her career.

I have a point. And I thank you for bearing with me. The point is that I hope my eight nieces and my three year-old daughter and my friend's sweet two-month old and all my friends' daughters and every girl in the world does not learn from what you've done that they need to fix themselves. I hope they can take your choice as a warning, as a lesson. To realize that it's our individual traits that make us really cool, that having the confidence to rock a pointy chin or thin lips or a big booty or small breasts is worth more than all the finest cosmetic surgery in the world, and is exactly what inspires teenage fans of pop stars. I was one once. And I am so grateful that Madonna never did a thing to herself back then except rat her hair.

You are twenty-three years old. I cannot imagine what your mother is thinking right now. I suppose she's grieving, wondering what she did or failed to do to make you think you were so flawed you needed to risk your life and cause yourself such an enormous amount of pain. You've gone and made yourself into the poster child for self-hatred. At the very least, you were honest about the recovery and the pain. Maybe that will deter some people. It sure scared the hell out of me.

Good luck with everything staying put.



Anonymous said...

Hollywood - as much as I would love to rid my body of the middle section(s), I have to agree with every word you said. Vanity can kill us. I keep saying after the second kid, I'll go get some work done. It's probably my biggest hang-up in life, that and my mental status. But seriously, reading your thoughts about our daughters makes me rethink my decision. Maybe if I just work a little hard, eat a lot less crap, and focus internally on my chakras, the "procedures" won't be necessary. I mean, I know I'm not Victoria Secret model bound, but a nice sexy ensemble someday would be nice. So, if I must choose between spending $4000 on new "little" boobs and liposuction or traveling the world on some exotic trip, I guess I'm going to be buying a bigger bathing suit!

As always, a thinking piece!

elise said...

thanks for commenting so thoroughly, Misner! Here's to you, you bathing beauty you, traversing the globe. namaste, xo, e

Amelia Plum said...

elise, we seem to be on the same wavelength with the vanity musings. this post could be published. it's a great piece. you rock! and you do not need one thing done to yourself thank you for your honesty about it, but, more so, for your strength of character to push through. xox

kristi said...

wow. yes, amen to every word. one more reason to promise to stick it out together and not let each other fall into these traps. and on a semi-related note, every single time i complain about myself out loud where my daughter can hear, i regret it afterward, because i don't want to teach my daughter that what's worth obsessing over in life is our body image. you are right: it's way better to take a trip, learn something new, give the money away even.

thank you, friend, for taking time to write this. xoxoxox

p.s. you SO totally don't need work done. you are amazing.

elise said...

ameila and kristi! I seriously love you guys. glad to hear you're down for the cause au natural. sticking it out together (in more ways than one) sounds good to me!

Abbe said...

"Good luck with everything staying put" is one of the funniest and saddest lines I've read in a long time. Thankfully, I have no idea of who the fuck you are talking about, this Heidi person, but I certainly can relate about looking in the mirror and mentally mocking up a few new drawings for the old bod. However, when that happens, I usually pad right into the kitchen and have myself a snack. Love to all the gorgeous lovely ladies out there! Poor Miss Thing! xoxo, Abbe

Amy said...


hollee said...

can u please, please forward this to perez so he can give it her or at least post it on his blog? I BEG you! This entire post was genius, but your second to last graph is the reason I am laminating my copy of People and saving it for the very first time my daughter tells me she's not good enough or pretty enough or genetically blessed enough. Take a bow, Heidi Montag, for giving us all cautionary tale in print -- complete with scary, scary pictures -- of what happens when you try to fix what's missing on the inside with unnecessary procedures on the outside. We owe this chick a big huge collective thank you. I wonder if she'll still be able to hear us with her fancy new pinned back ears...?

elise said...

I forwarded it to Perez. I really did. Thanks and props to you Hollee for the idea. I'm glad you brought up thanking her for this. She's doing us a service like a soldier at war with her own demons. And she's got the wounds to show for it.

Abbe you're the best. Now I want a fatty snack! I don't even watch the Hills, that's the show she's on but this was too much for my radar to overlook.

Amy rock on and tell Sunset park I say Yo!


kristi said...

another thing i really appreciate about this post is the point about how if you got surgery it might make your friends feel like you think they need surgery. i totally feel this way around the one friend i know who has had her boobs and tummy done. she has 2 daughters, and i have talked to her about what kind of message she thinks she's sending, and she uses the "well, i breastfed so mine shrunk" reason. but then once she had her tummy done (and one of her daughters is overweight) i don't think she really had a good explanation. plus her kids were terrified that she had it done because it IS surgery, after all, and they were afraid of something happening to her. the thing is, this friend is very down to earth in so many ways, so i really don't get it. but every time i'm around her i feel totally insecure, like she's looking at my muffin top and thinking "ooh, girl, you need to get that fixed." unless of course i drink a lot around her, and then i develop beer goggles for myself and don't care anymore. which is usually what happens. :) but really good point, because i've never thought of it that way, but i definitely have those feelings so i imagine that's not uncommon.

vrexy said...

I often think that the world would be a better place with no mirrors. (forget about cameras, etc.) The best way to see yourself is in the way you are reflected by those who love you.

elise said...

thanks vrexy! well said.

and kristi, I have had the same experience with friends who have gotten work. Your comment drives home the point that in exposing our so-called flaws and imperfections we connect on a deeper level with our fellow citizens and thus feel more whole and better about ourselves as is. Ironic that so much surgery seems to enlarge the gap that causes painful loneliness and isolation, thus leading to what else, more self-mutilation, amputations, obsessions etc.

Anonymous said...

I am a 47 year old mother of two, one being a 13 year old girl. I just made her read your blog with me. Thank you for the dose of honesty that is often missing in our size and look obessed society. I hope I have empowered my daughter with the confidence to be happy with who she is!!!!

elise said...

Anonymous! What did your 13 year old daughter think? I hope it was helpful. Thank you so much for reading and for your thoughtful comment. I was very moved by it.

Jess said...

I found your blog via Amy's Abbey Updater.

You're spot on with this. Vanity can kill. People should embrace themselves as they are. Sad thing is that physically she was much more beautiful before all of her augmentations. It's a shame she didn't see it.