“My Beautiful Mommy” – NOT

Does the world really need a picture book to prepare children for Mommy’s plastic surgery?

Florida plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Salzhauer, thinks so. He’s written a book aimed at calming the fears of our little ones about upcoming nose jobs, tummy tucks, and breast enhancements.

The story describes how a crooked-nosed mom with loose skin on her belly picks up her daughter early from school to go for a consultation with the handsome and muscular “Dr. Michael” (who has an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Clean in the old TV ads, but with gorgeous hair added), whose job is to make her prettier with a nose job and tummy tuck.

The book is written through the eyes of the young daughter, and shows a groggy mommy home from the hospital the day after surgery, sitting up in bed sipping chicken soup with grandma helping out. Soon mommy is out of bed but still not able to do any heavy lifting, so the girl and her big brother pitch in around the house.

Salzhauer says, “Children are very perceptive. You can’t hide a major surgery from them. When Mom goes down for two weeks after a tummy tuck it affects them.”

Sure it does, but it seems like the focus of this book is on reinforcing cultural stereotypes of women and beauty (not to mention boldly marketing the good doctor’s plastic surgery center), rather than explaining medical procedures to frightened kids. And the message to little girls is clear: to be beautiful you must seek perfection and surgery.

The illustrations make new Mommy a plastic Barbie look-alike you might see working the street corner in a midriff top and skin tight Lycra. Her come-hither glance is unmistakeable. Is this the role model we want for our daughters?

When the little girl in the story asks why Mommy wants to look different, she answers, “Not just different, my dear — prettier!” The next logical question might be, “Can Dr. Michael cut me up so I can look prettier, too?”

Since more than 400,000 mothers of young children go under the knife for cosmetic procedures each year, maybe we do need a children’s book to explain it — but not this one.

 

 

 

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.


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