Teens, Plastic Surgery and Cindy Jackson

Over the weekend, I heard about this woman named Cindy Jackson who has had over 60 cosmetic surgery procedures and has spent over $100,000 on the work spanning the last 25 years. Oddly, she doesn’t look terrible at all. In fact, if I saw her at Shop Rite, I’d think she was another 50 year old woman. But she is not ordinary, she actually holds the Guinness Book of World Records for most cosmetic surgeries. She is even now a cosmetic surgeon consultant (which has to be a real easy job :) and she’s dating a 29 year old dude. Perhaps in her world she has it all. Obviously she has money, the attention of men, she probably has a loyal following of women who are cheering her on as she fights the war on the aging process.

If she was a comic book character, she’d be armed with a scalpel and sleep in a botox chamber and fighting against an ugly character named Dr. Hideous. (I should totally pitch this to Comedy Central later today. Oh wait, I’m hanging out with students later  – Oh well).

Now I am not against plastic surgery procedures, I think in some cases, it’s a worthy consideration. But I do start getting nervous when we talk about teen-agers and plastic surgery. By now you may have heard stories of 15 year olds going under the knife to fix certain birth defects. In some cases, they may be a good idea in the same way that braces are. In other cases, it seems likely that such procedures will have a negative impact on students and society.

What does it say about us as a society when we admit to treating you better if you looked a certain way? We might be inclined to react and say, “Hey that’s how society is!” Believe me, I know. I was the sole minority in my school until 10th grade and the only kid with a middle-eastern shnoz in the county – I remember. But I remember also thinking that my identity can’t solely come from my appearance and like all adolescents, the search of “Who am I?” began. But what does it say about the society?

I’ll be the first to say that things are different today than they were in the late 80’s-early 90’s and it would be foolish to only compare the way things were to the way things are. As a youth pastor, my heart goes out to the teens of today for the many different types of pressures they endure. And while I would like to remind them that there are incredible blessings about being a young person today, I get that it’s hard too. I remember one of our female students explaining the number of girls in her school who have undergone procedures to help them look great in a bathing suit. And I’ll never forget the line, “It’s not just the people at the beach who see you, because of Facebook everyone sees you!” Indeed things are different today.

I don’t want to cite examples of what I deem as legitimate and what is not, it’s too judgmental (I think we can all agree that lypo-suction is not a moral issue right?). And I will be the first to say that this a gray area and that’s ok too because I like gray areas. But I will say that it seems wise to say that cosmetic surgery to fix things like birth defects is quite different than cosmetic surgery to attempt at looking “perfect”. Cindy spending $100,000 and sixty procedures articulates that quite well. I submit that deep down inside she would prefer the unconditional love of a man that truly loves and accepts her faults and all than to be with a 29 year old guy who may not be around when the money and botox run low.   And even more importantly, I hope she genuinely “accepts herself”.

This is among the many aspects that I love about the Christian ethic. It demands that we treat people the way we would want to be treated. It reminds us that we are all flawed and in need of redemption and it offers us identity in our most original design by the Creator Himself. That cannot be found in 6 weeks of recovery after the initial consultation. Which brings us to another question, “What does it say about a society that accepts and loves people for who they are?” I know some may scoff at the idealism here. And it’s true and with the risk of more scoffing, I’d like to add that this “heavenly society” offers that we live the good life forever with our Maker and Redeemer. This is where identity is found and nurtured. And it’s my hope that those searching can find it.


  1. They include the thorax, abdomen and back.

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