Dear Harriette: My mother won’t stop getting plastic surgery. She’s 52 years old, and she’s done body sculpting, liposuction, lip fillers and Botox, and now she’s trying to schedule a complete facelift. She is starting to look unrecognizable and incredibly plastic. I beg her to stop and try to reassure her that she’s still beautiful and doesn’t need to keep going under the knife, but she won’t listen to me. I’ve been doing research lately, and I’m reading that she could potentially be addicted to surgery. How do I get her to stop destroying her face? I don’t think she can see how it’s only going to get worse. — Plastic Mom
Dear Plastic Mom: Sadly, there are many people, women in particular, who begin the process of using surgical and other techniques to “improve” their appearance and who fall under the spell of the changes. As you have seen, there’s plenty of research on the subject.
Alone, you may not be able to do much to get your mother to consider stopping her body alterations. You can recommend therapy. Perhaps you can suggest that your mother go to therapy with you to work on some issues that are bothering you. If she agrees to that, go for it. Explain that you are worried about your mother’s health and mental well-being, and it is affecting your own health. With the therapist as a professional support, lay it on the table. Express your concerns, and attempt to get your mother to talk about it.
Dear Harriette: After wearing my hair in protective styles for 15 years, I’ve recently decided to let my hair go natural. I’ve had everything from braids to wigs and have always kept my styles long. My natural hair is a short 4C afro.
I’ve had my natural hair for a few weeks, and I immediately started to notice that people were treating me differently than they used to. Men don’t really approach me anymore, and my co-workers make comments about missing my “long hair.” I hate that I’m now feeling self-conscious about this. As excited as I was to go natural, I’m feeling like maybe I would be more comfortable keeping my hair in protective styles until it gets a bit longer or bigger. Am I jumping ship too soon? Should I wait until it grows on me? — Naturale
Dear Naturale: Welcome to the world of unconscious bias. Our culture tells us that certain textures and styles of hair are preferred. Natural, tightly curled hair is not on that list — even for many people who have that hair. The good news is that there has been a movement afoot and gaining steam for decades that encourages the love of hair in all of its textures. The CROWN Act in California, and similar measures in New York and New Jersey, even exist to protect women with natural hair from being discriminated against at work.
Personally, you need to grow to love your hair in its natural state and learn new styles to wear. Over time, the more you embrace your hair, the more others may get used to seeing you that way. You will have to train them to see the beauty in your new look. You do that by wearing your hair with confidence and power.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.