The other night, my sweetie pie and I were watching a documentary on the history of plastic surgery. The original idea was developed as a form of compassion; doctors trying to help those with deformities or injuries, like cleft palates and burns. Historians believe these nascent attempts at human reconstruction go back at least 4,000 years.
It was not until the horrendous aftermath of World War I, where modern weaponry did so much to destroy soldiers’ bodies, that the practice took off. Doctors worked feverishly to craft new noses and chins, jaws and eye sockets to give those injured men some semblance of normal lives.
Fast forward to today, and plastic surgery has taken on a whole new meaning. In our world, the vast majority of plastic surgery operations are performed for the sake of enhanced beauty. According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic surgeons, close to $17 billion was spent in the US in 2020 on cosmetic procedures.
While the U.S. leads the world in tummy tucks, brow lifts, and breast implants, other countries aren’t far behind. Brazil is second, followed by Germany—didn’t see that coming—Japan, Turkey, and Mexico. And these enhancements are not just for women. Plenty of men are submitting to eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty, and, everyone’s favorite, liposuction.
Speaking of the procedure that extracts fat to make one appear leaner, one has to admire Brazil’s Ivo Pitanguy. The acclaimed doctor noticed—perhaps after perusing all those bikini-clad, Copacabana beachgoers— that there was a perfectly good place for all that extracted fat, and…Voilá!…the Brazilian butt lift was born. By all accounts, Pitanguy was a great guy, often providing his reconstructive services to the poor for free. However, he would become known as the Surgeon to the Stars and was so revered in his country that in 2016 he carried the Olympic torch in Rio de Janeiro, after which he promptly died at the age of 93.
I suppose it’s a good thing we have plastic surgery, I just wonder if we’re taking these operations to the extreme. It’s hard not to think of people like the late Michael Jackson, who went from a cute kid to, well, something else. And I can’t count the number of very pretty women who feel the need to up their game by going under the knife. I’ve struggled through a seven medical surgeries, and can’t imagine allowing someone to cut me for something that isn’t absolutely necessary.
I also worry that young people, especially girls, are constantly comparing themselves to enhanced women, and see themselves as lacking. Conversely, young men ogle those literally sculpted ladies, and perhaps expect all women to look that way. Kind of a vicious circle, don’t you think?
As someone who faced the decision to do anything to look younger, I understand the pressure. When I was a sportscaster, I worked for five TV stations, at both the local and national levels. Then I aged out. You see, the target audience for sports is 18-to-34-year-old males and once I was pushing 40, I was no longer deemed pretty enough to be in front of a camera. It was a rude awakening. My work ethic, writing skills, and reporting abilities were insignificant. It was my age showing that was of the utmost importance.
Today, I am resigned to letting nature take its course. Still, I sometimes think about Dr. Pitanguy’s specialty and wonder what it might be like to…um…have a butt.
The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.
February 2, 2022
In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.
Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
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