written and posted by members of Lancashire Dead Good Poets' Society

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Plastic Arts & Surface Tensions

I've read with interest my fellow bloggers' verdicts on cosmetic surgery and I'm aligned with the consensus. I think the plastic surgeon's art is invaluable in true remedial work that improves a patient's quality of life - rebuilding crushed features, repairing hare-lips, unburdening over-endowed bosoms et cetera. 

Beyond that, when patients aren't truly patients but merely customers willing to pay ridiculous sums for non-essential (i.e simply cosmetic) surgery to approximate them more closely to some socially accepted convention of perfection (or even more bizarrely to accentuate their likeness to someone else), I throw up metaphorical hands and arch a non-existent eyebrow in imitation of Carlo Ancelotti. (I am not an Everton fan but I move among them.)

Of course I know everyone has a right to spend his/her money as (s)he wishes but many of the sums individuals spend on obsessive body mods are obscene and I think: wouldn't they feel equally good, if not better, about themselves if they donated the cash to those organisations that fill our week-end TV advertising slots with appeals for money to help Syrian and Yemeni war victim children in need of facial reconstruction and skin grafts?

Pablo Picasso's painted lady
The other thing I think is this: how depressing that perfectly attractive young women and men (but it is mostly women) feel they have to sign up for facial surgery, breast augmentation and all manner of procedures to move body fat from one place to another (flattening here, plumping there) or pay for regular botox injections just so they can have the same synthetic look and surface tension as all their plastic friends. Give me individuality, not identikittens! Sometimes (pre-Covid times, obviously), Blackpool's bars and restaurants on a Saturday night used to look like they'd been taken over by inhabitants from the Village of the Cloned. They'll all be saggy by forty with nothing but cold cream in their pension pots.

Okay, in order for this not to descend too far into righteous moaning, let's lighten up and speculate as to what Picasso would have made of all this pursuit of surface beauty and perpetual youth. I think we know. Look at his own painted ladies (sample above). I suspect he would have thought (in Spanish, obviously): stay as natural as you are, be beautiful in your own right, and let imagination do the rest. 

If you think that's a contrived segue, you are spot on. One of my favourite Far Side cartoons was this 'Boy Picasso' sketch of young Pablo coming home with a bad report for art....

Gary Larson's boy Picasso cartoon
So simple and yet so clever - like any stroke of genius - and ultimately forever satisfying. It could make me laugh every day (and not worry about the crinkles it induces). I hope it has the same effect on you.

Right, I shall leave you with my latest poem. It was originally eight verses long but I've nipped and tucked it with surgical precision (LOL) into its present form. I've even thrown in a hint of Keats (whose life and works, two hundred years dead, we commemorated this week) in the title. 

Truth Of Beauty
"I'm worth it" she quipped with guile,
handing him the bill. So many noughts!
Tight-lipped, he couldn't crack a smile.

You'd have thought it had been his face
rearranged so, under the surgeon's knife,
and not his blandly perfect trophy wife's.

Thanks for reading. Always be natural, S ;-)

29 comments:

Nigella D said...

I love it Steve.

Jen McDonagh said...

I totally agree with your views on cosmetic surgery (though identikittens is very clever). I must be slow though. I had to look at the cartoon a few times before I saw what was funny - Picasso's parents' faces. Very good - and I love your pithy little poem too.

Ross Madden said...

Ha ha that's spot on Steve. 👏 👏 👏

Deke Hughes said...

Generous though your thought is, we all know that body obsessives will never think outside of their own skins! I loved that Picasso cartoon (not seen it before) and your poem was sharp as a scalpel :)

Boz said...

Top blogging la!

Jeanie Buckingham said...

No-one has ever been able to call me a trophy wife. I have given up hope. Picasso would have hated me; he would almost certainly have regarded me as a dickhead. But I enjoyed and agreed with your blog and thought the poem was very funny indeed.

lancashire dead good poets said...

Excellent. I love the 'Village of the Cloned' and the Picasso cartoon. I share your views on cosmetic surgery. I am grateful for the skill of the surgeons who have looked after me for my necessary operations and put me back together very neatly. Great poem, too.

Debbie Laing said...

Very good. I totally agree about plastic people. Don't they realise they will probably look dreadful in 20 years' time? The bit about nothing in their pension pots but cold cream was very good, as was your poem :D

Rod Downey said...

Fair comment Steve. I think the most disturbing aspect of all this is those young people who are paying significant sums to get bigger boobs or smoother faces. It has all gone a bit OTT. Maybe a year in lockdown will make anyone considering such a step pause and think again. I loved the cartoon and your wickedly funny poem. Well done.

Celia M said...

I was persuaded by my then husband back in the early 1980s to have a boob job, really the worst decision I ever let myself be talked into. Twenty years later I and after years of discomfort I was minus the implants and the husband. My advice to anyone since that experience has been don't do it! I still managed to laugh at your poem though.

Dani Merakli said...

Wise and witty blogging. I enjoyed Village of the Cloned, the Picasso cartoon and your clever poem.

Binty said...

Ha ha, nice one Steve. There's nothing about me I'd choose to change except my bank balance :)

Martin Brewster said...

If it makes people feel better about themselves and they can afford it, why not? They are the ones who have to live with the consequences. I enjoyed the cartoon and the poem.

Anonymous said...

Funny but fair.

Jon Cromwell said...

I read a short story (Poe? Twain?) long ago about a soldier who had so many parts of his body rebuilt or replaced that not much was original apart from his voice...if I remember correctly. Thinking about it, I suppose plastic surgery was pioneered by military surgeons in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to address the injuries resulting from wars. I had seen the Far Side cartoon before, but it still makes me smile and I thought your pithy poem was wickedly on the money (so many noughts). 👍

Mac Southey said...

I'm totally in agreement and enjoyed your droll take on people's infatuation with the 'simply cosmetic'. The cartoon and your clever poem are both very funny. As for Picasso, might he not rather say "Vive y deja vivir"? By the way, staying with Spaniards, have you see Almodovar's 2011 horror movie 'The Skin I Live In', about a plastic surgeon obsessed with creating a skin that could withstand fire? Well worth a watch if not. Stay snippy :D

Steve Rowland said...

It was indeed a Poe short story, 'The Man That Was Used Up'. Also, I did see 'The Skin I Live In' at the cinema ten years ago and more recently have watched Billy Wilder's last great movie 'Fedora' which features plastic surgery gone wrong and the haunting line "You can't cheat nature without paying the price." Exactly so. I did wrangle with the poem in an attempt to achieve a uniform (aba) rhyme scheme but words and sense wouldn't work together, so irregular it is. Snippy, I like that Mac.

Writer21 said...

Short and yo the point! I too think that celeb seekers who give their money to plastic surgeons should herd Shalespeare's words.
To gild refined gold
To paint the lily
To throw a perfume on the violet
Or woth taper lihht to seek
The beauteous eye of Heaven to garnish
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.

On the other hand, working with burn and acid attack victims, surgeons become heroes.

Flloyd said...

Absolutely agree, every word. Recently I watch a telly interview with Olivia Newton-John, still animatedly pretty and expressive in her 70s, and her 35 year old bland, plastic-faced daughter Chloe. It makes me very, very sad.

Jill Reidy Red Snapper Photography said...

Excellent! And to the point as always. Thoroughly enjoyable read - and I loved the poem. X

Harry Lennon said...

Spot on Steve and I love the wicked poem.

Caroline Asher said...

I totally agree with you that natural is best. I've resisted encouragements in the past to have modifications and I'm so pleased that I did. Thanks for a Saturday smile :)

Mac said...

A complex issue and mental health issues come into it.Body dysmorphia is a real issue and not to be mocked.Some women pay for their
own plastic surgery and it is their choice to do so.I think your view although justified should be aimed at the culture we live in and the awful
need to conform young women in particular experience.The saddest biopic I watched showed Hedy Lamarr, a stunningly beautiful woman
Confined to the house in older age because of the ravages plastic surgery had done to her.She went under the knife terrified of losing her
looks.What does that say about the whole issue and I think it is far too serious to joke about.

Lois Hayburn said...

As I read it, your blog was well-balanced and I share the concern you expressed that so many young people are paying to have quite unnecessary cosmetic fixes. What a sad state of affairs it is when they feel a social compulsion to conform in this way. I enjoyed the Picasso pieces and thought your poem was very good.

Saskia Parker said...

I agree with the line you took in your blog and have read the comments as well. I'm so pleased I never resorted to any body modifications. My sister, despite being prettier than me to begin with, paid to have bigger boobs and plumper lips. The implants have ended up causing her problems and it's such a shame.

Billy Banter said...

I say 'Mac' cut the blogger some slack :)

Elizabeth Bullock said...

My thoughts are varied.

Anonymous said...

A thought-provoking blog. I used to think that the obsession with cosmetic surgery was something driven by the American cult of movie stardom. It never occurred to me that it might have emerged originally in response to the shocking casualties of war. I think it has all gone too far though when teenage girls are paying to be reshaped.

Brian Cassell said...

I've always thought cosmetic surgery is a bit like ski-ing: once you start, you can't stop and both gobble up the pounds! I liked your witty little poem.