Thursday, August 10, 2006

This is not healthcare

I was left feeling deeply unsettled after reading an article in the newspaper last week:

Health inspectors are to crack down on beauty clinics in England after evidence emerged that women are being disfigured by rogue operators offering improperly administered laser therapy, Botox injections and anti-wrinkle skin fillers, the Guardian can reveal. (Continued here).

My first reaction was to harrumph and blame the women for being stupid enough to want the procedures to start with. I subsequently realised that throughout the article the author was referring to 'health inspectors', 'the Healthcare Commission' and 'people providing healthcare services'.

In my mind these procedures are the absolute antithesis of healthy. These are commercial beauty treatments, albeit drastic ones, carried out for immense monetary gain, masquerading behind this concept of health. Denial of the ageing process and the beauty myth are powerful bedmates. The womens' glossies and the lads' mags both perpetuate the idea that women should fit a very narrowly-defined idea of beauty and should you not have it (that'll be the majority of us) you can buy it. And, in so doing, you will show to the world you're a modern woman making empowering and liberating choices. Bollocks. This is not the sign of a healthy society.

The really scary thing is I seem to be in a clear minority with my opinions. Cosmetic surgery has become commonplace and mainstream without so much of a smoking bra let alone a burning one. I had to ask myself the question 'where have all the feminists gone?'. I feared the answer would be to the local lap dancing club.

After feeling quite depressed about the whole affair I started searching the world of blogs in the hope of finding some like-minded soul. On the f-word, home to contemporary UK feminism, I found mention of a new feminist magazine: Subtext.

I was dubious. I have never been scared to say I am a feminist but... Would this new publication be a little too extreme for me? Would they try preaching to someone who clearly believes that shaving her legs is a weakness but one she will continue to practise? Not at all.

The first issue of Subtext arrived this morning. I was a little unimpressed with the presentation but the content more than made up for it. I have read it from cover to cover. Twice.

One magazine, hoping to survive without advertising, is not going to revolutionise society's love of cosmetic procedures but it will mean I no longer feel alone and I will continue to speak my mind at the very real risk of ridicule.


Doug said...

I think that it is awful that all the celebrities on the cover of magazines today seem anorexic. Anorexic with big lips. People should be happy with whatever shape or size they are... and healthcare insurance doesn't cover elective surgery so I guess some people feel they need to go elsewhere... It's a shame that advertising can't show people like they really are. That is why I really ADORE shows from the BBC, they have senior detectives and everyday folks on the shows and it has more substance than "beach glamour" shows with sticks in bikinis that you get here. Sigh.

Charis said...

This was a very timely blog. I used to live in Barking too (!) but now live in the sticks, where we are setting up a Women's group for social contact and empowerment. I have just started to research what is happening to women's rights in the 21st Century and the magazine sounds like it will be a real help. I'm off to order my copy now. Thanks.