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    Before you read the satire below, please read the following note of explanation. This paper was written in the style of Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal. If you've read that, you probably understand that satire may not be entirely funny--at times it may be horrifying--but its purpose is to convince people of the opposite of what is being said, often through shocking assertions. Some people took Swift's "Modest Proposal" at face value, and felt it to be a genuine argument toward what it seemed to be saying, and they were understandably outraged.

    I wrote this long before I was diagnosed as being BRCA1+, as a college assignment. I don't know what inspired its creation; perhaps my mother's bouts with cancer inspired my overall point of view. When I ran across it several years after it was written, after my own journey with cancer-related issues, I had renewed appreciation for its message. I believe women may feel pressured by society to have plastic surgery or to look a certain way, and this might perhaps extend into after-cancer choices. This is included only to get people thinking about our society and what may be unfair pressures on women to look a certain way. It is not intended to influence any choices you make.

    A Modest Proposal

    for Preventative Reformation of the Female Form From the Age of Three, Thereby Eradicating Imminent Plastic Surgery and Consequently Beautifying America

    It has been reported that 98% of women do not measure up to the United States' definition of "beautiful," because they do not fit into size 0 pants and size 5 shoes, and are not 5'8" or above, as are our supermodels who appear on the runways, in advertisements, and in fashion magazine. However, 100% of the women I have polled have expressed more than passing interest in obtaining the proportions and appearances of said models, and a vast majority said they were also willing to go through radical measures to obtain said goals.

    My proposal has its roots in history and has been deemed virtually safe, and acceptable, as a form of body transformation. Long has our country involved itself in makeovers of all sorts, including the new television show that gives desperate women complete body makeovers using scalpels, silicone, and stitches. Why subject our country's women to makeovers that occur after they have already been poked fun of by their peers? Why subject them to plastic surgery makeovers once they have already spent dozens of years being embarrassed about their large girth, flat chest, big nose, or short stature?

    The Chinese, for centuries, used strategic wraps on women to obtain petite feet. The most important thing to note about Chinese foot binding is not that it was controversial and even banned in the early 1900s--the important thing to note is that it worked. In the United States, we know, it is of no consequence if a practice is dangerous; after all, people regularly go under the knife for stomach-stapling and plastic surgery, and quite a percentage of these people never wake up--in essence, they go from the operating table to pushing up daisies. Obviously, anything is better than taking this unnecessary risk, and body binding is not something that would normally cause death. This has caused me to create the method "from the toes to the nose."

    Binding can be used to make certain unattractive things smaller (such as noses), while making other things larger (such as stature). Women of Myanmar are known for their neck stretching, where their necks are expanded, adding around a foot to their height; let us not forget the tribes of Africa, such as the Suyas, who increase the length of their ears, or the Ubanges, who elongate their lips; in addition, head binding has been used by countless nations (including such classical ones as Greece and Robe) as a way to lengthen their heads and is still safely practiced on neonates today in a tribe in the South Pacific (done specifically for the purpose of ease in wearing cone-shaped hats), and all sorts of other gradual body modifications have been used throughout the centuries and accepted by other cultures. Before anyone brings up the argument that these cultures are not American and are thus uncivilized, we must remember that women in our own populace used corsets to obtain small waists--not only did the corsets pull in a woman's body, but they also permanently reshaped it, sometimes to little more than a foot circumference. Most women can no longer claim such a small and ideal waist, though they may often try to by sucking in their stomachs, wearing tight jeans, pulling on their belts, and pretending that they don't see their stomachs hanging three inches over their super-low-rise flares.

    The United States, of course, has its own ideals where beauty is concerned, and so we would only base our body binding on the other cultures' philosophy that "if we want something done right, we'll have to do it ourselves." A full body wrap will theoretically force any weight to move up, thus helping the woman to achieve height. Metal rings would be inserted around the femurs, similar to the rings that are inserted about the necks of the women of Myanmar, thus forcing growth. Other attachments to this body "cast" would help to achieve other aspects of western world beauty, for example: a plate that would squeeze the nose on all sides to help it retain its youthful dimensions; a similar contraption that would go about the ears; acid patches for cheeks and lips which would help to redden them; an iron rod across the back that would force good posture and wide shoulders; and a weight hanging from the lower lip that would help enlarge it (let me include that for those who ask more about this prototype, such as how one will manage food input and elimination, I can only proffer that, until a patent can be obtained, this is unequivocally proprietary information). Several conceptual artists are currently working on a model of the full body suit, which we have termed the "lotus" in honor of our Chinese forebears and inventors, since this is what they termed their smaller feet. As with the Chinese and their foot binding, our binding process will begin at the age of three, when the body is still highly malleable, like a slab of modeling clay.

    It has been accepted that, on the occasion of the eighteenth birthday, the body wraps will be removed--this will be termed the woman's "coming-out party." The way in which this will run is similar to the way in which the affluent used to have mummy unwrappings in front of their distinguished guests; in other words, the parents will unveil their daughter, by taking off her wraps, to show off her "body perfection," while the guests around the birthday cake will ogle in sheer admiration and enjoyment. Although fifteen years sound like a lot of time to wear a body wrap, American women currently live nearly eighty years; thus, only a small percentage of their lives will be dedicated to full body beautification. This is in stark contrast to the hours per day--for their entire lives--that women currently spend applying makeup, tanning, reading fashion magazines, fixing their hair, and searching for the perfect diet and outfit.

    A good number of the scientists and doctors I have spoken to see absolutely no problem with my proposal for "from the toes to the nose;" in fact, most have said that it would be virtually pain-free. Although the internal structure of a woman's body could be adversely affected, a good number have no trepidations, since the effect would be so satisfying. The male scientists and doctors were among the most enthusiastic about this proposal. One doctor said that such a proposal is beyond medically sound, adding, "We have been utilizing deliberate bands in myriad methods for countless decades for medicinal application: in nursing severe burns, bringing down engorgement from lymphedema, and for the setting of shattered bones--why not for preventative reformation and beautification of the thus heretofore extraordinarily variable nature of the female form?" Again, the results of such a proposal being implemented, they trust, make it worth every year of binding.

    First, young females would no longer need to wear clothing or makeup, saving parents thousands of dollars per year in unnecessary extras, and the parents could instead spend their money establishing a hope chest for their daughters, if they wish, investing in size 0 clothing and size 5 shoes. No adolescent female will ever have to ask, "What will I wear? I have nothing to wear!"

    Our grocery checkout lines would be free from teen magazines with half-naked youngsters on the covers; in fact, all teen girls would be wearing the same thing--beige bindings from the toes to the nose. This would, of course, also greatly cut down on teen pregnancy.

    Girls' mouths would be bound as well (so as to increase the volume and color of the lips), thus closing off, for fifteen years at least, a heavy and generally uncontainable source of noise pollution.

    Finally, we would put plastic surgeons out of business in serving women, so that materials such as cadaver fat, botulism, silicone, and plastic could be used on far more important things, like celebrities.

    Should girls complain about their body wraps, we must remind them that women have been wearing fabrics such as polyamide, nylon, boning, underwires, lycra, and other body binders for hundreds of years, and this is certainly not a new concept; in fact, future generations of "mummy girls" will no doubt delight in the bodies they have achieved with very little effort, save wearing a strategic bodysuit.

    And for those who say that I have something to gain in such a proposal (for it is quite rare that someone will offer a suggestion without something to gain from it personally--in quintessence, without ulterior motivation), let me stop only a moment to add that I am already well beyond three years old (which I hope was apparent throughout this text) and thus such body modification cannot be done on someone of my age; in fact, if anything, it will negatively effect the women of my generation, who will stick out as sore thumbs beginning when the first generation of "mummy girls" is unveiled.

    Some people, of course, say that in the United States we should accept the various features that nature has given us, and stop being obsessed with each minute imperfection of the body. Still others believe that God does not want us to focus on outward beauty, and point to the Bible in 1 Peter 3:3+4 where it says: "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment . . . Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."

    However, we should not dwell on those who deviate, as the majority of men and women would likely greatly embrace my suggestion in an effort to beautify America and save it from the ghastly range we currently have of women who have big noses, are short, or have big feet; because, such a plan would greatly turn around our civilization, so that it not only mirrors the great philosophy of other cultures and of the past, but also will provide psychological wellbeing to the millions of women (and, consequently, men) who can only look forward to absolute, utter perfection.


    by Melissa, 2003 (originally published in an on-campus anthology); online publication 2010. Not to be passed on (though you may link to this page).


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