The Cosmetic Surgery Media Monster
It was 1993, and PEOPLE ® published an exposé on a surging trend of teens getting plastic surgery. The story made the cover, complete with actress Soleil Moon Frye, whom the magazine claimed, spent thousands of dollars getting a breast reduction, thigh liposuction, and a nose job. Stories like these began to paint a permanent stigma on the plastic and cosmetic surgery fields, and therefore those who utilized those services for their own confidence and well-being.
Firstly, I want to talk about the actress at the center of this media frenzy. Soleil Moon Frye grew up in the Hollywood spotlight, easily recognizable from her character, Punky Brewster. After the show ended, puberty hit Ms. Frye, and it hit hard. Soleil Moon Frye actually suffered from a rare disorder called gigantomastia, which literally translates to "giant breasts." By age 15, she was only 5' 1" tall, but had an incredibly disproportionately-sized 38-DD breasts. This medical condition, which is an extremely rare disorder, began to affect more than just her day-to-day life; her large breasts began to limited the roles given to her, as most producers could not cast her as someone her actual age, due to her larger breasts. Soleil Moon Frye ultimately underwent a breast reduction and complete chest reconstruction procedure, involving over 4,000 stitches. This case was not a vain young actress who wanted implants, this was a young woman whose life and livelihood were threatened by her medical condition.
Secondly, this type of sensationalized and absurd story makes cosmetic surgery taboo for people, like Soleil Moon Frye, whose lives are disrupted by a facet of their body that they can’t control. The magazine recklessly misrepresents this specific medical case as a common occurrence. It is not. Again, 1993 had a lot going on: Clinton had been elected, the Waco siege, the first World Trade Center bombing, and that’s just January and February. The year would round up with Jurassic Park and Animaniacs, Janet Reno, The Unabomber, the premiere of the Food Network, and the births of Ariana Grande, Niall Horan, and Meghan Trainor. I guess in all of the melee, responsible journalism gave way to sensationalized, round-the-clock coverage of stories that may or may not be true. No one cared about facts when the only thing that mattered was timeshare. Honestly, things haven’t changed much on that front.
I want to sum it all up by asking for grace and understanding for anyone’s journey. You can’t know what all someone is going through, or has gone through to lead them to make the decision that they made. But you can listen, be kind, and not judge anyone by the decisions that they make to make themselves feel better, more confident, or whole. Self-care can come in many forms; pedicures, therapy, or even cosmetic and surgical enhancements. Those decisions are all of our prerogatives.
To all the people out there who may want a Kardashian butt, or to get rid of the excess skin that massive weight loss has caused, (you can’t get rid of skin with just working out!) we celebrate your choices.
Lastly, to circa 1993 Soleil Moon Frye, I apologize for those who read the PEOPLE ® article and vilified your personal health choices. You. Do. You!