My (Entire) Body, My (Entire) Choice

By: Shayna Herszage  |  August 27, 2019

By Shayna Herszage, Opinion Editor

Confession: After I finish looking at Snapchat stories, I always scroll briefly through the news stories underneath, just to see if the clickbait is compelling enough to read. Usually, it is not, but, in my travels through the black hole of low-quality journalism, a trend is evident — the scandal of plastic surgery. 

I have little reason to care about close-up images of whoever-it-is-this-time’s possibly-newly-enlarged lips/eyes/whatever, but it is difficult to ignore the judgmental subtexts. She (they always judge a “she”) changed a part of her body in some way, and we, the readers, society as a whole, hate her for it. She is entitled to her own opinions and decisions, but this particular decision is wrong.

Articles and whispered gossip have taught us to scorn others when they change their bodies without our permission. She got a nose job. He got highlights in his hair. She has a lip piercing. And we all know what these appearance changes “say” about them, right?

Nothing. Literally nothing.

It is not up to us to call someone materialistic, a follower, or too feminine or masculine based on their decisions for their body and appearance. We are seeing this person from outside of their situation, and therefore, we are not getting the full perspective of who this person is. If someone hates the scar on their forehead and wants it removed, or thinks a diamond stud in their nose might look cute, that is the only thing the scar-removal or nose piercing indicates, and we do not have the right to draw conclusions otherwise.

A common statement I hear in these judgments is that the person in question is playing into society’s beauty conventions, and therefore, is inherently going against their own nature. This now makes them unworthy of respect. However, if a person withholds something that they want for their bodies, be it medical or cosmetic, solely to be worthy of your respect, the person has not defied society’s beauty standards. Rather, they have catered to your standards instead of their own. But why should either option make a person less worthy of respect?

While controversial, it is nonetheless easy to claim “my body, my choice” regarding reproductive rights. Pro-Choice! Sex education! Sex positivity! But what about the rest of the body? What about hair dye, shaving or not shaving, piercings, or any other individual decisions a person makes about their body? In all the fun of gossip, we have forgotten that our opinions about another person’s body do not matter, because it is not our body — and, by extension, not our choice.

If you want to get short hair and dye the remains, pierce your cartilage, or get a breast reduction, go ahead. And if you would judge your friends for any of these decisions, why be judgmental when you could instead be quiet?