Female disintegration from the inside out was long considered a normal part of aging.
The drive to maintain cultural standards of beauty begins very young and lasts for a lifetime. The 8-year-old worried about being fat travels through her teen years and into adulthood piercing, purging, plucking, painting, perming and pumping iron.
By the time she is in her 30s, 40s or 50s, the slice of a plastic surgeon's knife or a needle pushing poison into her face seems acceptable, a natural part of a lifetime of anxiety about personal beauty.
Where money is no object, these medical interventions become even easier.
So no one questions why Barbie might want Botox. Or why television's Greta Van Susteren would go on the cover of People with her new face lift.
Appearance junkies are made, not born.
Our economic system and the mass distribution of female images work together to make the body the primary project in the lives of too many American women and girls.
When our culture ascribes power to women on the basis of their wisdom, moral character, creativity and strength -- and not just appearance -- 8-year-olds will stop worrying about their thighs, and the 50-year-old will no longer view plastic surgery or poison as a rational or necessary personal choice. Washington, D.C.
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