MAD DOG: Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful, Hate Me Because I Bought It

There are three things that separate us from animals. First, we use toilet paper. Second, we're the only ones that complain about people emailing us unfunny jokes, then turn around and forward them to all our friends. And third, we get plastic surgery.Other animals are just as conscious of their appearance as we are, the difference is they go the natural route to improve it, like fanning their tail feathers or puffing out their cheeks. We, on the other hand, remove half our noses, inject collagen into our lips, and implant baggies filled with anything we can find that's softer than sand into our chests. Is it any wonder wildlife moves away when people move into the neighborhood?There are two kinds of plastic surgery: necessary and elective. Necessary can be cases like having ears that stick out, a huge jutting chin, or a nose like an elephant. You know, like Prince Charles, Jay Leno, and Dumbo. These people are all good candidates for plastic surgery. The other category is elective surgery, which is the Medical Oxymoron of the New Millennium. Face it, no one should voluntarily ask to be cut open unless it's a matter of life and death, and even then I'd think about it long and hard.Cosmetic plastic surgery is a common procedure these days. In 1998 over 1 million people in this country had it done, an increase of 153 percent over 1992. Liposuction is the most common procedure, followed by breast augmentation. Rhinoplasty is popular too. This is when you have a horn implanted on your face. Just kidding. Actually it's the medical term for a nose job. Doctors prefer using fancy Latin names like rhinoplasty because it makes them feel like they got something out of their ten years of schooling besides a big pile of college loans which they'll struggle to pay off within the first two months of private practice.Nose jobs have become so routine these days that even our money is getting them. Take the new Sacagawea Golden Dollar. You know, the one you hate because not only can't you pronounce it, but it makes you feel dumb because you can't for the life of you remember whether she was the 14th or 15th president. This coin, which is called golden because it has as much gold in it as chocolatey coating has chocolate, looks a bit different than the artist's original design. Apparently between the time they approved it and the time they started minting them, Sacagawea got a smaller, more petite nose. In typical fashion it wasn't needed and wasn't anything a touch of darker foundation on either side of her nose wouldn't have accomplished. Next time they should just hire Estee Lauder to design our coins and be done with it.Most plastic surgery is done simply becausepeople want to look better. It's so easy these days to trim a little here and add a little there, much like a haircut. And like a bad haircut, with plastic surgery you'll look fine in two weeks. You can puff up your lips with collagen, stop wrinkles by injecting botulism toxin, enlarge your breasts with saline, and even get implants in your calves. A lot of people get plastic surgery so they can look like someone else. According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (motto: "Looks can be deceiving") women most want to have the facial features of Julia Roberts and Cindy Crawford. Men, on the other hand, want to look like Drew Carrey. Just kidding. Even Drew Carrey doesn't want to look like Drew Carrey. He wants to look like Julia Roberts too, it's just that he hasn't found a plastic surgeon with a few spare months to do the job.I'm reminded of the old Twilight Zone episode "Eye of the Beholder". Throughout the show we see doctors and nurses talking to a patient who has her face all wrapped in bandages, but everything's in shadows so we never see anyone's face. At the end they unwrap her and recoil in horror -- she's beautiful, but all the people on this planet are ugly so they think she's the ugly one! The woman ends up being an outcast because they're not advanced enough to know how to make someone ugly. If only they had Michael Jackson's surgeon. Anyway, she joins an alien 12-step program, writes a book about it, and makes a fortune doing an infomercial called "Face It!" with that obnoxious Brit who wears the bow tie and red suspenders. Just kidding. That would be how it would end if they did a movie remake of it, something you can expect any minute since they've already run through every other TV program ever broadcast.The true moral of that Twilight Zone isn't just that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but also that we were easily impressed in the '60s by obvious Henry-like plot twists with object lessons that smacked us in the face. But this is the '00s and we need to look at it differently. The moral we should be taking from it is that NASA needs more money so they can find this planet and send people who can't afford plastic surgery there so they can feel beautiful. See, it's all in how you look at it.

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