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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Plastic Surgery: External Locus Of Control?

Professor Tanya Byron writes in the Times  to a lady whose daughters are against her having cosmetic surgery. She has been discarded by her husband after 35 years of marriage in favour of a younger model. Her face, she feels, wears the strain of spending a life time looking after a husband and children.  She wants a face and breast lift but her daughters are "furious" and call her "shallow".

Prof Tanya devotes her response to the question of where the "locus of control" (LOC) of this poor lady lies. Is it outside of herself, which means that she is sensitive to the opinions of others? Or it is inside of herself, which means that she has greater level of personal control and self-determination. With an internal LOC  one assumes, she would not seek to define herself via her appearance.

Tanya Byron thence cautions the lady against having cosmetic enhancement, a contentious position to adopt. She says find another interest to occupy your time. What? Visiting old churches?

I feel that Tanya has hidden her personal biases inside a wall of hypothesis and so-called evidence. about "locus of control".

Prof T misses the point. My attention regarding this problem was directed toward the daughters who were furious with the mother. They may well have opinions, worries about the procedures, undue influence from others, fears and concerns about what their mother might become. But by what right do they accuse their mother of being shallow and insecure?

I specialise in the treatment of body image, locus of control issues, contingent self destructive behaviours and everything else to do with a horrible relationship with food and with oneself.  But this does not make me against cosmetic enhancement per se.  I feel that I have an internal locus of control and possibly also high "appearence schemacity". This means that my self worth is in part affected by looking as good as I can within reason and without being obsessed by it from one minute to the next.

I reflect this by the clothes I choose, the attention I give my hair, my quest to eat a good healthful diet, the vitamins I take, the occasional facial and anything else that I am able to afford. If Prof Tanya does any of these herself then I suspect a little hypocrisy is at play.

So is cosmetic surgery the thin edge of the wedge?  No, I don't think so. I would say to this lady "go for it my dear, and tell your daughters where to go". Spend your money on everything and anything you like. If they don't like it, they can lump it, and if they give you a hard time they don't deserve you. Get real, it's tough out there. I hope you find a man who is good to you with your new face and your new breasts and if you need any help with your "locus of control" then get some counselling alongside your new face but not instead of it.

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