At first blush, this may not seem like a serious entry, but it is. (Well, mostly serious anyway.) The other night, I was watching television just before midnight. I don’t remember the program for sure, but since I have a limited palate, it must have been Law & Order, Monk, or a college baskeball game. In other words, nothing that would have signalled to me that I should be especially cautious about the commercials. Suddenly, I was assaulted by a commercial featuring a woman talking about “that special part of a man’s body.” I could not believe what I was watching! And, of course, like a gawker by an accident, I could not change the channel. I just sat there, slack-jawed. She kept saying that phrase over and over, using her tone to put it into italics.
This followed a week in which my other blog was spammed with messages from a firm that promised similar “enhancements.” Then last night, I saw another commercial with a goofy looking man (all smiles) negotiating with Japanese counterparts, who pretended to be commenting on his negotiating posture, but were using phrases with transparent double entendres. For reasons unknown to me, this business niche seems to have developed overnight.
Women have been in the enhancement business for much longer. In one of our prior wards, we were acquainted with two cosmetic surgeons who made a very nice living working primarily with women, some of whom were members of the ward. In some instances, these operations were restorative, but most were motivated by a desire to improve what nature had provided.
As far as I know, enhancing one’s natural endowments does not violate any express commandments, though preoccupation with one’s physical attributes certainly can become unhealthy. The problem, of course, is locating the line between acceptable attention to appearance and excessive asorption with self. I am not hoping for bright-line rules, but does anyone have any tips about how to think about this? Sometimes when I find myself with questions like these, I ask, “How would I advise my teenaged children?” Frankly, this one stumps me.
Many forms of physical enhancement that would find disfavor with the puritanical are now mainstream acceptable: cosmetics (makeup), earrings, jewelry, hair coloring … even tanning salons. Moreover, we embrace pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements, herbs, and (many) dietary supplements as generally acceptable methods of changing or maintaining physical appearance. Cosmetic sugery takes the commitment to a new level, but I have never heard a Church authority suggest that it falls on the “excessive” side of the line. Are there any limits here? If there are, how should we articulate them?
P.S. I am not asking permission … just curious.