My mother wants to have plastic surgery — and not just injections but reconstruction.
I’m very much against it. I told her it’s cultural shame to give up her Chinese looks, but she isn’t listening. Can I stop her?
— Woman With Her Own Face
You could let the air out of your mother’s tires, lock her in the garage or glue her to the vanity cabinet. But eventually, she’ll find a way. Anyone who has made the decision to go under the knife voluntarily is beyond reach of even the best intentions of family members. And honestly, using phrases like “cultural shame” is totally annoying.
If she’s doing this to look young, then let it lie as a difference of opinion on the issue. If she’s doing this because she wants to look white (as your question suggests), then point out that she will be the only person in the universe who doesn’t think she looks Chinese.
Since plastic surgery seems so common now, I assume that the reasons people choose to slice up their face are just as common (and varied). Find out what all her reasons are and probe her deeply to answer specifically — not just “because I want to look better.” And if you can’t access the reasons, then you have to impress upon her the long-term consequences.
Without further ado:
• Ask her if she thinks changing her face is akin to erasing her personal history and if she wants to look like every other woman over 50 at the next wedding she goes to;
• Write her a personal plaintive letter and tell her how you — as a woman and her daughter and fellow Chinese American — feel about this alteration;
• Remind her that it’s never just one time and that the upkeep on plastic surgery is constant and potentially a pain in the butt and the checking account;
• Wouldn’t the money be better spent on your college fund?;
• What if it turns out that she won’t look better?;
• Other than looking better, what is she hoping for?
Ask your mother leading questions. She’s lived this long, so she’s going to want to do whatever she wants. All you can do is bring her to a higher level of consciousness about all the consequences and express your extreme disappointment in her choice and the message you think it sends.
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