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Heidi Montag Stretches More Than Just Our Disbelief

August 9, 2011

On November 20th Heidi Montag of MTV’s The Hills fame walked into a doctor’s office as a beautiful woman, and walked out 10 cosmetic surgeries later as a questionably more beautiful woman. At least that’s what she was expecting. That’s what countless other males and females alike expect when they opt to change their physical features with surgery. But as I sit in my office I can’t help but wonder: why do people like Heidi feel the need to do this to their bodies?

The answer seems to literally pop out at me each morning as I walk through the huge body modification room in our Times Square BION Odditorium. Some people look aghast, others might crack a smile, and many eyes pop wide out in true believe it or not fashion as they press the magic button at the cosmetic surgery exhibit and a woman’s chest inflates to proportions that would rival Heidi’s DDD size.  It’s an easy gag, but it never fails to attract attention. But I don’t think the attention is necessarily the point here. If you step away from this one particular exhibit and look at the body modification room as a whole there is a deeper story to be told by the unbelievable things people and cultures do to their bodies.

You decide: when did Heidi look her best?

Take for instance the Padaung women of Burma who are also exhibited in the room alongside the cosmetic surgery display. These women are famous and earned a BION status for wearing brass coils around their necks in an effort to stretch them to fantastic lengths. At first the coils were intended to scare away men from other villages and prevent adultery, this example of body modification became a symbol of beauty within the Padaung culture. Girls from a young age would have these coils placed on their neck to elongate their neck as much as 18” throughout their lives, and also increasing their attractiveness within the Padaung society. The Padaung practice was a totally normal, even desirable, form of body modification that is similar to foot binding in some Eastern cultures, corsets and waist shrinking in 16th century France, or our modern day surgical modifications in the quest for ultimate beauty.

There is something else remarkable here about Heidi’s individual decision to supposedly improve her appearance through surgery. Beauty through surgery is far from our culture’s consensus on what beauty is. While the ideal that the Padaung women strove to achieve developed through circumstance to become the accepted norm within their culture, Heidi Montag is just one person who felt unsatisfied with her appearance. Seeking personal satisfaction Heidi indulged in an amazing feat of medical surgery to fix her appearance. Perhaps I should say it again: Heidi Montag underwent TEN cosmetic surgeries in ONE day. Can you imagine the pain and trauma a Padaung women might have to endure to compress a lifetime of neck-elongation into a 24-hour 18” stretch-athon?

What is really important here is the remarkable lengths a person will go to in order to achieve an ideal of beauty. And to top it off, Montag wasn’t satisfied with her initial breast augmentation surgery so she had it redone for an even larger size, and finally Montag even admits she regrets getting these cosmetic surgeries altogether. Believe it or not, some people will just never be happy – and for the record, Heidi I thought you were perfectly beautiful before you decided to fix what you perceived as flaws.

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