Children's book about plastic surgery

 Productimages Mommy-Cover
My Beautiful Mommy is a new kids book about plastic surgery. It was written by Michael Salzhauer, a plastic surgeon in Bal Harbour, Florida. Salzhauer says he came up with the idea to help parents explain cosmetic procedures to their children. From Newsweek:
"My Beautiful Mommy" is aimed at kids ages four to seven and features a plastic surgeon named Dr. Michael (a musclebound superhero type) and a girl whose mother gets a tummy tuck, a nose job and breast implants. Before her surgery the mom explains that she is getting a smaller tummy: "You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn't fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better." Mom comes home looking like a slightly bruised Barbie doll with demure bandages on her nose and around her waist.

The text doesn't mention the breast augmentation, but the illustrations intentionally show Mom's breasts to be fuller and higher. "I tried to skirt that issue in the text itself," says Salzhauer. "The tummy lends itself to an easy explanation to the children: extra skin and can't fit into your clothes. The breasts might be a stretch for a six-year-old."

UPDATE: As our eagle eyed community manager Teresa Nielsen Hayden points out in the comments, My Beautiful Mommy is actually a self-published book and not likely to see wide distribution. That said, I still think it's a notable artifact. Dr. Michael Salzhauer clearly spent a great deal of time and effort on this unusual project and that, in itself, is interesting enough for me. But for a more balanced view of the shitstorm started by Newsweek and fanned by folks like me, I encourage you to read Teresa's post on the subject at Making Light. Link


  1. This is fucking horrible. Yeah… with everything going on in the world it’s MOST IMPORTANT to teach our kids about plastic surgery.

    “You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn’t fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better.” —so just remember little one, when you get too fat to fit into your clothes, don’t bother going to the gym or getting some exercise, just go see Dr. Michael.

  2. I’m not trying to denigrate the field of plastic surgery altogether (there are certainly legitimate uses), but… I find this pretty disturbing, both on its own, and as an indicator of the large amounts of purely cosmetic surgeries performed as an incomplete solution to a primarily psychological problem of insufficient self-esteem.

    You’d think that parents giving one of these to their kid to explain their frivolous cosmetic surgical procedures might be given a bit of pause when they realize what it’s coming to, but I can’t help but suspect that most of those people won’t give it a second thought.

  3. “Gee kids, maybe you can learn to hate yourself just as much as I do!!!”

    I vote this most souless, evil corporate spawn of a book…. this year.

  4. I can’t decide if this is more disturbing or less disturbing than Microsoft’s server-in-the-home children’s book.

    I’m gonna go with “more disturbing”, I think.

    A *lot* more disturbing.

  5. This has got to be the dumbest idea for a kids book ever. It’s right up there with those joke kids book titles that circulated a while back- like “Daddy Drinks Because You Cry” and “Elmo Experiments”.

    Talk about sending the wrong message.

  6. That cover is terrifying. It’s an embodiment of so much of what people dislike about elective cosmetic surgery.

  7. Tragic, I thought it was a joke at first. From the illustrations the “mommy” even lives in a McMansion and drives a BMW SUV…way to teach the little ones what normal life looks like..

    If you don’t feel “pretty” on the inside, plastic surgery sure as hell isn’t going to fix the problem..

  8. This reminds me of possibly the greatest review I’ve ever read of a television show (MY SUPER SWEET 16)…

    “This is why terrorists want to kill us.”

  9. The author made a rookie mistake: people who get elective cosmetic surgery are the sort of people who don’t pay attention to their kids.

  10. What’s wrong with mommy that needs to be fixed? Is there something wrong with mommy at all? Clearly, mommy believes something is inherently wrong with her. I believe that mommy’s struggle with her perception of herself is an inner struggle, not an external one.

    I also believe children are integral in a way that adults aren’t. Given this belief, should they be exposed to or even be made to deal with an adults incongruity? Should the adults incongruity between their inner and outer selves be presented in a story book?

    My judgement is that this is an ad for giving great leeway to incongruity in adults and the target audience are children. I feel ineffably sad about that.

  11. My mom is saggy and wrinkly and grey. Whenever I see her she’s still my beautiful mommy.

  12. Dr. Mchl Slzhr
    Bl Hrbr Plstc Srgry
    9801 Cllns vn, St L1
    Bl Hrbr, Flrd 33154
    P / (305) 395-4953

    n cs nyn wnts t cntct ths dctr bt hs nw bk.

    ls, wld rcmmnd vryn rdng ths t g t sm dctr rvw sts nd pplr srgry sts nd lv ngtv fdbck bt ths dctr. Plstc srgn rly hvly n thr ntrnt rp. f thr r nmbr f ngtv rvws n dctr tht cms p n srchs, t rlly hrts thr bsnss.

  13. OK, how do we expel Florida from the Union?

    It’s a peninsula, so the new border would be easy to defend. Lots of coastline, so the navy can lob in the shells when necessary.

    Isn’t it time?

  14. I’d suggest that people read the book, which won’t be out until next month, before getting too up-in-arms and start calling the doctor, organizing protests, etc. I’m not saying “My Beautiful Mommy” is not creepy, but it’s always best to read a book before, er, reviewing it.

  15. Okay okay okay. Obviously this book is two parts hilarious, nineteen parts sick and wrong.

    But just for the record, cosmetic surgery isn’t inherently evil, selfish, etc. I’ll skip my “it happened to a friend of mine…” story because it’s long and involved, but suffice it to say there are plenty of people out there getting “elective” cosmetic surgery whose lives are made unambiguously better by it. Not the cheesy made-for-basic-cable-reality show stuff, either, but stuff that’s about as morally controversial as taking antibiotics for strep throat.

    From what doctor friends tell me (although none of them are surgeons, so grain of salt) I get the feeling there’s a lot more of that than drive-through liposuctions or booth-tanned trophy wives swapping out their C-cup implants for DDs.

  16. you can’t legislate intelligence, you can’t bully it or coerce it. Harassing this opportunist doctor does nothing to increase the education required to raise children that aren’t so shallow as to need surgery to be able to face a mirror.

  17. Sounds like Dr. Michael lives in a high-end, bejeweled, shiny box. Just north of Miami Beach. I didn’t know you could have your conscience (cosmetic) surgically removed.

  18. “Mommy’s tummy is saggy because Mommy carried you around in it for nine months, and ate a lot during that time and got big and fat. So you see, Dearest, it’s all your fault.”

  19. phas3d , April 16, 2008 10:09 AM

    Also, I would recommend everyone reading this to go to some doctor review sites and popular surgery sites and leave negative feedback about this doctor.

    Good way to get sued by this doctor, phas3d. I wonder if Boing Boing will give up your IP address if subpoenaed?

    IOW, why stoop to this level? Just shun his books and shun him. Write poor reviews on his book, not on his services. Book burning is for…. well, I don’t want to invoke Godwin’s law here, but you should know what I mean.

  20. The book is bad, self-esteem, blah, blah and whatnot. I don’t care, but the cartoon mommy on the cover of that book is HAUTE!

  21. I think I must read this book, for the giggles if nothing else.

    More than anything the look on the child’s face on the cover disturbs me.

  22. The book would be so much better if it showed mommy getting plastic surgery to look like a cat. Just sayin…

  23. Gee, Mommy, you’re so MILFY now! All the little boys from my school say you’re HOT! Is that a good thing?

    And all it took were three horribly painful, slow to recover from, monstrously expensive surgeries. And I don’t mind that I can’t actually feel my nose, breasts or belly anymore.

  24. While I for one have often wondered if a face lift would better accent my cheekbones, why is he marketing to kids? Kids don’t have jobs, silly. Or else what would it say about a parents self esteem if s/he explained needing plastic surgery to a kid throuh a weird book? It would be a two second conversation: momma wants some action. End of.

  25. Maybe the kid should go in for plastic surgery, too. Being that androgynous can’t be good on the playground.

  26. Initially I was disturbed, particularly by the cover, but the part in blockquotes didn’t really upset me. Simply put: I can understand why a child might be concerned and frightened if his mother came home in pain from a tummy tuck, or otherwise incredibly bruised and swollen, and why he might need it explained that his mother hasn’t necessarily been, uh, beaten up.

  27. I think this book has one major shortcoming — what about the daughter pictured on the cover? I mean, Jesus, what’s with that hair? And seriously, it’s called makeup, girls. Once you’re old enough to pull up, pull up to that cosmetics counter. Plus she’s completely flat-chested, it’s just not sexy. You can’t go wrong with a solid set of D-cups, she’ll grow into them.

    And after that, maybe then we can start thinking about doing some work on that teddy bear.

  28. If they have psychological services for those that wish to switch from male to female, and vise versa, why the hell don’t they do the same for perfectly good people that wish for bigger tits, or a smaller nose. No matter what type of elective surgery people have, they still won’t be happy with themselves for a simple reason, the doctor worked on the body and not the mind.

    I think that plastic surgery has a place in the medical services, for burn victims, for breast cancer survivors, for amputees, that is fine. When I see a perfectly good teenager on Dr. 90210 going in for a breast enhancement, it makes me sad really.

  29. @Cowicide

    I never stated anyone should review or comment on this doctor’s qualifications as a surgeon. There is nothing illegal in writing opinions on someone’s work as an “author”. The websites anyone can post reviews on have the opportunity and right to reject and/or delete posts as they see fit. Also, the doctor has the right to petition any site to have negative information retracted.

    To be clear, I am advising everyone to go to any procedure/surgical site and leave negative reviews of this doctor’s new book or simply leave your opinion on the book’s subject matter.

    Nothing wrong with that.

  30. @41: tee hee! Good post.

    $42: Right on.

    I’m not one of the It’s-About-the-Children! brigade, but there’s something about juxtaposing this with a child that really points up what’s wrong with it.

    In this case: if this is the type of role model you’re providing your child, your child is fucked.

    If in a time when 40 million Americans don’t have health insurance you’re teaching your child that your appearance is your top priority, you are a failure in the role model department.

    I’m no prude and I don’t object to people doing some basic maintenance on themselves, but when you start getting into breast implant territory, your money is better spent on a shrink than a plastic surgeon. Trust me, you will be happier and better adjusted, and the results will never sag or come undone. Money well spent.

  31. I think it’s pretty significant that the mommy facing away from her kid, there is no sharing going on there.

  32. #42. I agree whole-heartedly. Transgenderism and other medical/reconstructive procedures (like post-accident, harelip, whatever) have great psychological and emotional support groups. Why can’t people who want plastic surgery go to group therapy and discuss WHY they want it, then see if it, coupled with therapy, could really help them?
    I’m not against the surgeries themselves, just the “why” behind it. If you don’t like yourself, getting big tits or a new nose isn’t going to help.

    And just for the record, I hate liposuction and tummy tucks and stomach stapling. Why don’t people realize that if they just ate the same amount, but in healthy foods, did cardio, and lifted weights, they really CAN look like Halle Barry? That’s what all those starlets do! They LIFT WEIGHTS. It’s not going to make you huge and “gross,” but it will require work. Which I guess what these people don’t WANT to do. They throw money at a problem you can’t fix on the outside.

  33. “Mommy, the doctor said ‘he gave you two D’s.’ Mommy, you’ll have to study harder next time!”

  34. Alternate titles:

    “Why you won’t be going to college”

    “Why Mommy hasn’t been getting out of bed in the morning”

    “Your new daddy won’t leave us now!”

    What have we done? What the hell are we doing?

  35. The only way I could ever see this book actually selling more than 10 copies (to the author himself), is if a bunch of websites link to it, giving it worldwide publicity and – oh. Hmmm. Maybe he’ll give Boing Boing a shout-out in his sequel “Who’s Your Daddy?”

  36. This may be less about mommy’s self esteem issues and more about breeding a future generation that sees plastic surgeory as a legitimate option to make oneself ‘pretty’ inside and out.

    He’s just securing his future; 13 or 14 years from now these same kids will be getting the same procedures.

  37. I thought that BoingBoing was supposed to be “A Directory of Wonderful Things”.

    But this…this is absolutely horrible.

  38. @ Bonnie The book would be so much better if it showed mommy getting plastic surgery to look like a cat. Just sayin…

    Best comment so far!

  39. “Let’s all harass the doctor just like “‘Net bullies target Chinese student participants in pro-Tibet protests!”

    There’s nothing wrong with a respectful, polite e-mail telling him what you think. It’s neither illegal nor unethical.

    Don’t mess with his internet rating, though. That’s not what internet ratings are for. Leaving fake negative feedback is indefensible.

  40. @ Santa’s Knee – yeah, I didn’t notice, why didn’t Mommy get a nose job while she was at it?

  41. On Topic:
    I hear that the Dallas, TX, version of this book will have the subtitle: “Now Momma Will Look Good for the Rapture.”

    Slightly Off-Topic:
    I go back and forth on what I think is the single worst invention of western society: breast implants or ready-made greeting cards. The former warped the way we look at ourselves and others, making us feel that variations from a plastic doll standard are necessarily bad. The latter killed almost all reason to communicate formally with real emotion.

  42. “Let’s all harass the doctor just like “‘Net bullies target Chinese student participants in pro-Tibet protests!”

    Posting the doctor’s physical address in this context seems creepy, sorry to say. That’s just asking for trouble, and is reminiscent of pro-lifer tactics.

  43. @ #11. Sometimes people who get plastic surgery pay a lot of attention to their kids, too much really. And as soon as little Binky is old enough, mummy will see to her getting her nose done, and her breast implants.

    The kids, the girls especially, will be taught that only people with “perfect” bodies and faces are worth of love.

    It is very sad. I wish, when folks looked in the mirror and saw the drooping eyelids or sagging boobs or receding hairlines, instead of spending the money on themselves to get the silly surgery, they’d donate that amount to provide important medical treatments for people with real problems who haven’t the funds.

    Because no surgery is going to make you look young or perfect forever. We all age. The good karma lasts a whole lot longer!

  44. Yeah before we all start calling Dr. Salzhauer or leaving him negative reviews on doctor review sites, let’s ask ourselves if we really hate Dr. S for writing a book that helps moms explain their elective plastic surgery, or if we hate moms for getting elective plastic surgery. Judging by a lot of the comments, it’s the more the latter than the former.

    Dr. S’s contribution to society is definitely not a good one, but it sounds like this book is just reflecting what a lot of his patients actually believe–that they need surgery to feel better and they don’t have enough self control do lose weight and tone up naturally. And it’s harmful to perpetuate that message to kids, but this book is not the creator of that message–these moms are.

    And yeah if you still want to be a Dr. S hater, at least read the darned thing first.

  45. Takuan,

    Come to think of it, what I’d really like is a Twilight Zone ringtone for my phone.

  46. Sad thing they can only improve boobs and not IQ. Funny how people today complain about the objectification of women but don’t mind them turning up in ads that portray them as plastic products.

  47. “Dr. S’s contribution to society is definitely not a good one… but this book is not the creator of that message–these moms are.”

    So it’s all the fault of the moms, and the doctor doing the surgery doesn’t share the blame? He certainly is profiting by it!

    This discussion, BTW, is not really about this book at all, but about the abuse of plastic surgery. This book is just the sand in the oyster.

  48. I’ve always wanted the red telephone ring from – was it The President’s Analyst or In like Flint?….

  49. when you get too fat to fit into your clothes, don’t bother going to the gym or getting some exercise, just go see Dr. Michael

    Why don’t people realize that if they just ate the same amount, but in healthy foods, did cardio, and lifted weights, they really CAN look like Halle Barry?

    Gentlemen, I understand that you’ve never actually gotten near a real woman, so let a gay man explain it to you. When you get really stretched out, your skin doesn’t necessarily snap back to its old shape. Many women have a lot of sagging, wrinkled extra tissue. No amount of dieting or exercise is going to make it go away. In fact, the more weight you lose, the more saggy extra skin you have. It can even cause discomfort during exercise.

    Gaining fifty pounds in one area of your body is equivalent to an overall weigh gain of 100 or 150 pounds in terms of getting stretched out. Try gaining 150 pounds for a few months, then try to shrink your skin back. It’s not happening. Although some of the men commenting here might appreciate their mate’s postpartum figure, a lot of you will end up screwing someone younger because you don’t find her attractive anymore and because you’re a pig, anyway.

    This book is a stupid idea, but cut these women some slack.

  50. @NICK D: No, it’s not all the moms’ fault, but plastic surgeons like Dr. S exist because moms want bigger boobs and flatter tummies and thinner noses (for reasons perpetuated by society, the media, etc.), not the other way around. Dr. S is making a profit off these women, and now an even bigger one, so agreed: he’s slimey. But I’m not going to harass Dr. S for being one of howevermany opportunistic slimeballs in the world, and I’ll discourage others from doing so too. I was responding to that rather frightening war cry made by others in the post.

  51. this is why I parasitize suitable hosts with already motile larvae. Plus you don’t have to buy them dinner.

  52. Antinous, are you saying that all the people who were once morbidly obese and managed to lose all the extra weight, had to have plastic surgery to remove the extra skin? I’m thinking about the Subway guy you always see on commercials. So everyone who loses weight is going to have extra skin hanging around for the rest of their lives? Seriously, I’m just curious.

    “Gentlemen, I understand that you’ve never actually gotten near a real woman, so let a gay man explain it to you.”

    — I find that to be a little snide and mean coming from someone who is usually more gracious.

    (Don’t tell my wife).

  53. Collagen strength varies between individuals. Some people might snap back pretty well, particularly if they’re younger and have better ectoplasm. Anyone who loses more than fifty pounds will almost certainly have loose skin. Someone who loses more than a hundred pounds will probably have a pannus.

    People who tell other people what to do with their bodies, particularly men telling women, get on my nerves.

  54. #78 – There is a difference between telling someone what to do, and critisising their choice.

  55. I wonder if he will write the companion book, “Mommy won’t be coming home any more because she died from complications relating to elective surgery” starring the late Olivia Goldsmith the author of The First Wives Club.

  56. There is a difference between telling someone what to do, and criticizing their choice.

    I dare you to have that conversation with your wife.

  57. Devi’s advocate here, providing a justification for elective cosmetic surgery:

    Let’s say a woman feels unhappy about how she looks. It isn’t a weight thing, where she could just diet (and where lipo is just a temporary solution); she wants bigger breasts. There’s nothing that she can do to change this; it’s not her fault for having small breasts. Now, she could go to a psychologist for a year, build up her self-esteem, realize that she doesn’t need big breasts to feel good about herself, etc. Or she could go to a plastic surgeon and get bigger breasts. If the latter makes her just as happy as the former, and costs less (psychologists aren’t cheap), why is it not the better solution? Perhaps a focus on the physical over the mental is a problem with our society, but for an individual woman whose worldview is firmly entrenched in that society, maybe it’s better for her in the long run to just get cosmetic surgery than to change her entire concept of “beauty.”

  58. I think my favorite chapter is “Mommy’s New Rack is Hot!”

    Seriously, this is just fucked up.

  59. I like the future. I disagree with all of the hyper-judgemental luddites. People want to look different and take surgical steps to achieve that? Good. I want future generations to see that as acceptable because that means it might one day be acceptable to get chips in one’s brain, cybernetic tentacles and myriad other bodily improvements. And I want all of those things.

  60. Incest is creepy no matter how it’s presented. A children’s book where a child objectifies his mother in a physical way makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

    Ask Kanye West what he thinks of what cosmetic surgery did for his “beautiful mommy”.

  61. “I dare you to have that conversation with your wife.”

    — We do all the time, it’s not easy or pleasant. But it helps keep the air clear.

  62. for an individual woman whose world view is firmly entrenched in that society

    And that’s just a part of the issue. She’s also stewing in the world view of potential mates, bosses, etc. A waitress (or even a waiter) with a great rack takes home more money at the end of the night. Does anybody not believe that?

    My big problem with the book is that Mommy looks like a Barbie doll. That’s just bad plastic surgery. A friend of mine had a baby a couple of years ago at age 35ish. She went up to F cups. (Hands back on the keyboard guys!) When she was done nursing, her boobs hung down almost to her waist. She got them hiked up. There’s a big difference between having things put back where they were only a year before and making yourself look like Barbie.

  63. We do all the time, it’s not easy or pleasant.

    You’re way ahead of the game, then. It’s probably just semantics, but I wouldn’t stay in a relationship where I was being criticized. I’d prefer to be encouraged, even if it was forcefully. If I had a spouse who was considering something, I’d say, “I love you the way you are, but if it makes you happy, go ahead and do it.” Unless it was penile enhancement, and then I’d say, “Yes! Do it! Do it do it do it do it do it!”

  64. Trimeta @ 86:

    Now, she could go to a psychologist for a year, build up her self-esteem, realize that she doesn’t need big breasts to feel good about herself, etc. Or she could go to a plastic surgeon and get bigger breasts. If the latter makes her just as happy as the former, and costs less (psychologists aren’t cheap), why is it not the better solution?

    Because one involves major surgery on a (presumably) otherwise healthy, functional body.

    Because one says “yes, society gets to tell me what’s acceptable and what isn’t in terms of my appearance, and gets to tell me that I need to cut off parts of my body or have foreign objects implanted in my body to meet those externally-imposed standards of beauty.”

    Because getting breast implants will not do a thing to address the greater issue of dissatisfaction with one’s body or self.

    Because breast implants often have negative effects on breast sensitivity and function.

    Because working with a therapist can help a person learn skills and tools that will help them in all areas of their lives.

    Because having small breasts is not a deformity. (Dammit.)

    maybe it’s better for her in the long run to just get cosmetic surgery than to change her entire concept of “beauty.”

    I don’t think I could disagree more strongly.

  65. A lot of commenters are making the claim that people want to look thinner, or have bigger boobs, or more symmetrical faces, because “society” wants them to. I have also heard “the media” blamed.

    Um, I know it’s painful, but can we consider the possibility that preferring younger-looking, thinner, more symmetrical mates is just . . . gulp . . . natural? And that there are good evolutionary reasons why we might do that, even if there weren’t a fashion industry?

    I’m not saying it’s moral to ditch your mate because of loose skin or a mastectomy or weight gain, but we should recognize that there are certain biologically-encoded limits on our sexual attraction. Plastic surgery and otherwise altering our looks might well be the best answer to this problem for most people, at least until we can reprogram our brains (I’m all for that, too).

    Genuine love does a pretty good job of solving this problem, but how realistic a solution is that, for most people? See the crazy divorce lady video.

  66. Because getting breast implants will not do a thing to address the greater issue of dissatisfaction with one’s body or self.

    Not entirely true. I hated my nose every day of my life. I had a nose job and I haven’t noticed my nose for twenty years. Sometimes it’s quite effective, although most everybody should probably be in therapy anyway.

    Women who have sagging breasts hiked up tend to be happy with the results. Women who have enlargements for purely cosmetic reasons very commonly regret the decision. Reversals are the growth area in plastic surgery right now.

  67. I have to say that I’m a little disturbed by all the nasty, negative comments thrown out at those who choose elective cosmetic surgery. I can understand that viewpoint, but much of what has been said sounds extremely ignorant. There is a whole spectrum of motivations and results and to focus on the absolute worst and ignore the rest is pretty lame.

  68. do me a solid bro, (to put in the colourful vernacular of your people) googleimages “takuan”and tell me what you get by page 2, thanks

  69. Pickles, monks, monks, pickles, then every image that you’ve ever linked to from here, starting with Hitler.

    Speaking of which, I just finished an anime series featuring your namesake’s arch-enemy Tokugawa Hidetada.

  70. the Purple Robe Affair would hardly create an arch enemy – especially for such as Soho. I do however share a common history of shimanagashi.

  71. What were you expecting from Google images? Not to have your entire linkage history spread-eagled for the whole internet to finger?

  72. I googled Antinous and got – mostly pictures of the divine Antinous, but starting on page five there were pictures linked from BB. Several were linked by me, but more were linked by you. Just commenting in the same thread as you has contaminated me.

  73. yes, imminent Scroogling.

    OK NOW PEOPLE LISTEN UP: now,I need you all to go to the kitchen and look in the cabinet under the sink, are you there yet? Good. Now, take the bottle that mummy told you never to touch, you know, the one with the plumber-man on the label? Good. Now get a glass from the cabinet…..

  74. My first reaction to this is to raise my voice with the ‘YUCK’ chorus and proceed to cluck and tut tut over people’s warped self image, etc – you fill in the rest. I’m going to abstain from that course because I’d like the people who express opinions about what I should look like to mind their own damn business. I think it would be hypocrisy then if I didn’t mind my own in this case.

  75. Cowicide @3:

    “I vote this most souless, evil corporate spawn of a book…. this year.”

    Don’t waste your vote. This book has nothing to do with corporate publishing, or any other kind of standard publishing operation. My Beautiful Mommy is a purely self-published book. Without the Newsweek puff-piece, it would have no more significance, and get no more notice, than a xeroxed handout from your local GP.

    Big Tent (the book’s publisher) is a vanity and fulfillment operation. Only a few of their books are even listed at Amazon (badly — most of the normal publisher-furnished information is missing), and their titles that are there are barely selling.

    My Beautiful Mommy is not on Amazon. It has no ISBN that I can detect — and this close to its publication date, I should be able to detect one. It’s not going to show up on the shelves of your local bookstore, and it’s certainly not going to corrupt the moral values of America’s children.

    In short, Newsweek magicked up this alarming story out of thin air. It’s one more thing to think about the next time the conventional media make snotty remarks about the journalistic standards of weblogs.

  76. Phas3d, when you post things like that, it makes the Baby Jesus cry, and the bad people at Newsweek laugh.

  77. Come on. Somebody say “Gosh, did you research that yourself? Is this the first place anyone’s reported that story?”

  78. you know, what this site needs is someone to be the islamic morality police. To burst in when appropriate, or inappropriate.

  79. #119

    /bursts through door!/

    In the name of the Highest Power above! Stop this blasphemous blathering!


  80. NOBODY expects the Islamic Morality Police! Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope…. Our *four*…no… *Amongst* our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise…. I’ll come in again.

  81. HAHHH!!

    Iran anti-vice chief ‘in brothel’

    Tehran’s police chief, who was reportedly discovered in a brothel, has been arrested, it has been confirmed.

    Local media have reported that General Reza Zarei was found with six naked women in a house of prostitution in the Iranian capital last month.

    He has been taken to jail while his case is investigated, a spokesman for Iran’s judiciary said.

    Gen Zarei was in charge of enforcing Iran’s strict anti-vice laws, which include a ban on prostitution.

    State media had recently reported that Gen Zarei had been replaced as police chief in Tehran, but had not explained why. ”

    The sad part is they will no doubt murder the women and let this sack of walking shit live.

  82. Teresa;
    Thanks for putting this non-story in perspective. It looks like Newsweek went for cheap sensation with a topic that would be sure to trigger discussion and attract attention. I’d have expected them to have higher standards than that.

  83. “Why don’t people realize that if they just ate the same amount, but in healthy foods, did cardio, and lifted weights, they really CAN look like Halle Barry?”

    This is a very simplistic view of weight loss and fitness but my real problem with this statement is why do we have to look like Halle Berry? We’re not starlets/pop-tarts, dependent on our looks. We’re average women, holding down jobs, enjoying life. What’s wrong with healthily looking like ourselves?

    re: #114 – So this is probably for distribution in Plastic Surgery Offices, for patients already pro-plastic, to explain why mommy looks like she got run over by a mack truck, you can’t get near her for a week and is addicted to percocet and/or vicodin. Hell, there goes my carefully crafted diatribe against society, the media, and the medical establishment. Wish I wrote faster.

  84. Thanks, Ross. I wasn’t as surprised by this development as I should have been. Nobody I know reads Newsweek any more.

  85. In short, Newsweek magicked up this alarming story out of thin air. It’s one more thing to think about the next time the conventional media make snotty remarks about the journalistic standards of weblogs.

    Excellent point, Teresa.

    I hate that elective cosmetic surgery has to exist, but as long as we all prefer “pretty”, it will. I myself used to be all self-righteously against it, but now that I’m 45 and seeing some sag, I view it more positively. I like to look pretty!

    Really, my main problem with this book is the extreme imagery that is used (at least on the cover). Why can’t Beautiful Mommy just be Pretty Mommy? Instead, she has huuuge breasts, a tiiiiny waist, and razor sharp cheekbones. I think if cosmetic surgery were to be treated just a little more realistically we wouldn’t be having as much discussion.

  86. Remember kids, if you have a little too much belly fat, don’t exercise, GET SURGERY. If your boobs are too small, GET SURGERY. If your nose is too big, GET SURGERY! It’s better than changing what you can and accepting what you can’t.

    “Mom, why did you get surgery.”
    “Because, when you go to high school, I want all the boys at your school to get erections when I pick you up.”
    “Somebody called you a ho, but I told them you’re not a garden tool.”
    “No, it’s GOOD to like a slut who’s uncomfortable about herself.”
    “I’m gonna start wearing a pushup bra, Mom!”
    “Good for you.”

  87. I agree it’s a non-story… except in so far as it gives us an opportunity to discuss marketing practice.

    A book of this sort isn’t to reassure kids about cosmetic surgery — it’s to sell the idea of cosmetic surgery to kids before they’re old enough to be skeptical about the idea. Or maybe to sell it to parents who would find that explaining it to their kids caused them to reassess whether it’s really needed.

    Otherwise, they’d focus on more medically reasonable examples. Removal of a growth (I’ve had a few cysts dealt with myself). Repair of a scar that’s causing trouble. Maybe even breast _reduction_, as an alternative which opens the question without getting so much into the “Barbie” space. There are lots of legitimate kinds of plastic surgery, including some which are elective/cosmetic without perpetuating the idea that one needs to look like much more than a healthy human.

  88. I remember Stacked Like Me in detail from a late ’70s reprint in NL. Like a lot of features in that magazine it was raw, funny, mean and more true than it would have been if it was polite. Yeah, I used t oread that magazine, but I got over it and now I know why I shouldn’t have so back off. I take pleasure in seeing P.J. O’Rourke using what’s left of his wit trying to flog life back into an elephant that’s on life support.

  89. Takuan. #123

    I’m not sure, but I suspect that Islamic Morality Police wouldn’t have “…an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.”


  90. @135
    Okay, now I get it. Takuan is actually the name of a collective of neurally interconnected mnemonic savants. Hence the instantaneous appropriate pop culture references.
    It’s the only answer, I tell you.

  91. Full circle at last. If Batou’s ‘look’ is an invention, then what does he really look like?

  92. @67 (Amberica20)

    Yeah before we all start calling Dr. Salzhauer or leaving him negative reviews on doctor review sites, let’s ask ourselves if we really hate Dr. S for writing a book that helps moms explain their elective plastic surgery, or if we hate moms for getting elective plastic surgery. Judging by a lot of the comments, it’s the more the latter than the former.

    Oh my god, thank you. What irked me — all day long, in fact — was the ongoing, absolutely incredible demonization of the titular “beautiful mommy.” It’s one thing to be annoyed by the garbage children are sold well before they can be held accountable as consumers; this outrage directed at women contemplating tummy tucks, however, is astonishing.

    Thanks, Antinous, for pointing out that, after a major weight loss, “a whole lot of cardio!” isn’t going to help a person get rid of excess skin. It’s one thing to be angry at a culture that continues to insist on a silicone gel ideal; it’s quite another to redirect all that rage at a woman who got a tummy tuck and breast lift or reduction.

  93. You can love mommy only if she’s beautiful and rich. Now go feel sorry for all those poor kids with mothers who are neither beautiful nor rich.

  94. JennFrank: Looks, like possessions, are things that most people value due to their exclusivity. If you have something as well, theirs becomes less rare and less special. If you paid less than full price (surgery?) it’s worse because it makes it look like they overpaid.

    I know it’s a bit of a stretch to jump from stereo/car envy to body envy, but the attitudes seem similar.

    Imagine this discussion with various people.

    (Where X is valuable – a new car, stereo, face-lift, etc)
    Them: “Look at my new X.”
    … later …
    You: “Hey, guess what, I just won a free X!”

    They’ll either be really happy for you, or upset. It’s very polarizing. They should be happy for you if they’re a friend – a good thing just happened to you. Resentment is often more powerful though and they’re just spiteful that you got something without a worthy (in their eyes) price.

    What is it world? Should fatties slink in for surgery so their horrid carcasses don’t offend, or are they not worthy of such surgery because they’re offensive?

    A boob-job is a lot cheaper than some lame Hummer H2 and, I’ll wager, brings more happiness to the world.

  95. I’m in favor of letting kids know about plastic surgery, though not for the usual reasons. I want them to understand (1.) what a tiny difference there is between conventionally pretty and conventionally plain; and that (2.) rich people don’t just look good because they’re somehow naturally better than the rest of us.

    (If you’ve seen Dangerous Liaisons, think of the scene where Glenn Close is getting dressed in the morning, assisted by half-a-dozen well-trained servants. Moral: Some looks require a staff.)

    There’s a limit to how much you can compensate for deficiencies in childhood nutrition and health care, and maternal health and nutrition is even more intractable. But when you’re talking about a few centimeters’ difference between a fashionable and unfashionable nose, or a weak vs. a “normal” chin, kids might as well know it can be bought.

    Knowing that doesn’t mean they’re going to move heaven and earth to get their faces reshaped. I think there’s significant value in knowing that there’s nothing magical, nothing fated, about having a fashionable face. It’s just a thing some people have by luck of the draw, and some other people want and can afford to have done.

    I don’t know how many of you are old enough to remember when home haircoloring kits got good enough to produce realistic results. My recollection is that that was when the hex started to come off admitting that you colored your hair. It was also when hair-color-based personality assignments began to subside. You’ll still hear blonde jokes, or remarks about “the traditional redheaded temperament”; but not nearly as much as you used to.

    When something you used to have to be born with becomes a product you can buy, it loses a lot of its magic. I expect the same thing will happen if we ever come up with easy ways to alter skin color, or tendency to gain weight.

    So, I’m all in favor of telling kids about plastic surgery, professional stylists, personal shoppers, and all the rest of that technology. I would also — and here I think Dorothy Parker, author of “The Standard of Living,” would agree with me — give them the price lists that go with it.

    Radicalize ’em early, sez I.

  96. The money belongs to those people whether it was earned or given, and it is their decision on how to use that money, even for something that seems to you a waste or stupid.

    I’m sure all of us can be said to spend money on things we don’t need.

  97. David,

    Firestorms are fanned. Shitstorms are shoveled. Or perhaps pitchforked, depending on consistency.

  98. #153 Really nice post Teresa, I can’t agree more.

    In a remotely related notion, I always found Second Life (et al) characters a bit boring, because it’s so easy for everyone’s avatar to look ‘beautiful’, so mostly they’re blandly similar.
    I always tried to make my guy as ‘ugly’ and stand-outish as possible, just for some contrast, example. You wouldn’t believe the difference in people’s social reaction to a markedly ugly character (as opposed to, say, a stylistically evil one). Somehow, having an ugly character, in a world were beauty is an easy option, is a major issue. Funny huh? ..and a great opportunity for social experiments.

    However, Glenn Close..
    I always thought she was pretty scary looking, I have boyhood recollections of likening her to Skeletor. I never understood how she got roles as alluring or ‘femme fatale’ etc.
    She’s obviously a good actor and can play “bunny boiler” quite well, I just never saw her the way the media portrayed her. Dunno where that came from, just popped into my head as I read your post :)

  99. @153 so if I understand correctly, when beauty is understood to be just another cash transaction it loses its mojo. Interesting point of view.
    What depresses me about explaining the concept of body modification for status to kids is the extent to which it reinforces strong cultural pressures toward vanity, superficiality, excessive self regard and the pursuit of beauty as an independent goal. Kids have enough pressures without feeling that they have to be able to afford the body to go with the outfit.

  100. A tip of the hat to Teresa Nielsen Hayden for the dope-slap to Newsweek article and putting their ‘handwringing’ article in complete perspective.

    We get Newsweek and Time (aka Dumb and Dumber) out of obligation for a school magazine drive but I don’t even look at them. Total crap.


    I have seen this article blow out of proportion like popcorn at the AMC. I actually saw an interview with “Dr. Michael” and he seems like a normal guy (even nice i would say). I looked him up and it seems he is really into Plastic Surgery (a radio show and all). So at least the author isn’t a douche…

    Regardless of whether plastic surgery is good or bad… Isn’t this a free country and if i want fake boobs and a better nose I shouldn’t have to explain that to anyone? (except for my kids). As a parent, I have always explained to my son that neither Santa nor the Tooth Fairy exist and if i have surgery, whether it be plastic or not Ill be worried about explaining this to him. My son is 5, he knows things i wouldn’t dream of knowing at his age when growing up… So do i fight the media and keep my son in a cage with no TV? or do I slowly help him make up his own mind?

    Kids are not what they used to be and parents need to stop being so hypocritical and start realizing that this book is nothing compared to what their children are exposed to.

    Big round of applause for this Doctor, because I am sure there are plenty of people out there who have surgery and want to explain it to their children… And he created a tool for this. Simply a TOOL.

    Aren’t we all tools walking on eggshells afraid of using the word “prettier” anyways? (God forbid an unattractive person hears you and you hurt their feelings)

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