Quick edit: June 24
Just to say that this blog came from a post by a fellow blogger Dangers of Children’s Books who also followed a link from another blog Topless Carrot – we’re all writing about it! 😉 Thanks to them for alerting me though to this book!
I was in two minds about writing this post.
The first mind was so outraged at the concept of a book that I had to speak out against it and its corrupt message.
The second mind said that by doing so I was giving publicity to a book that deserves to be ignored.
I guess I’ve opten for Mind Number 1.
Image courtesy of beutiful[sic]magazine.com
This picture book has been written by Michael Salzhauer, MD, to prepare children for when their mommies (I don’t believe daddies are mentioned, but I haven’t read the book so may be mistaken) have plastic surgery.
Trying to see the good
I may steam in outrage here but I guess that plastic surgery is common, particularly in the USA (US readers please do feel free to correct me if I am wrong). Therefore, a story that addresses what plastic surgery is does have a place in the market.
My objection isn’t so much to the desire to placate a child whose mother is clearly more vain than sensible. It’s the other message that speaks volumes through these pages: that mommies aren’t created perfect. That they need help from someone with big scalpel and an even larger ego to manufacture them into an ideal of beauty.
I tried hard to find evidence that this wasn’t the case but even the blurb confirms this:
“Join a young girl as her mommy goes through her plastic surgery experience, and learn how the entire family pitches in to help Mommy achieve her beautiful results.”
Rather humorously, intended or not, the plastic surgeon in question (whom one assumes is the author himself) is illustrated like a superhero, with bulging muscles and chiselled chin. We are not informed as to whether HE had plastic surgery himself to achieve these inhuman results.
Happy Mother’s Day! Here’s your botox voucher
OK, I know many of us mothers – me included – like to look good, slap on some make-up to feel human and have occasional facials to brighten our skin and make us feel happy. But we’re not essentially changing who we are. We’re not asking someone to suck our extra fat out through a tube to give us a flat tummy. We’re not requesting a different nose. We’re not saying to our children that we just aren’t good enough the way we are so we have to ask someone to carve out a replica before we can be happy.
This is the stuff of nightmares.
In the interest of fairness, I did look for positives on the book. Apparently, when Michael Salzhauer had his draft ready, he showed it to a patient who was worried about how to tell her child about her desire to have a tummy tuck and breast augmentation. She was so delighted by the manuscript that she went ahead with the surgery and spent time afterwards reading the story to her son to explain that the operation wasn’t about pain, it was about feeling good. You can read more in this Newsweek article.
The Newsweek article also contains a quote from a child psychologist, who is rather kind to Dr Salzhauer in her discomfort at the subject matter:
Child psychiatrist Elizabeth Berger, author of “Raising Kids With Character,” likes the idea of a book for kids. “If the mother is determined to pursue cosmetic surgery, I think it’s terribly important to discuss it with the child,” Berger says. But she says the book is incomplete. She wishes that the mom had just said something like, “This is silly, but I really want it anyway,” she says. “That is more honest and more helpful to the child.”
Perhaps it would be wiser to give children a copy of Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives if we want them to grow up in a world where the plastic and unnatural are seen as the norm.