According to numerous sources this week, Iggy Azalea has “finally admitted” to having plastic surgery. Others say she's “owned up”. A couple have even said she's “confessed”, the way one would to something terribly shameful, weighing down your conscience, necessary for somebody else to know. And in a way, of course, she has confessed. First she failed to conform to the accepted standards of beauty and was being openly mocked for it (notably by Snoop Dogg). Now she is conforming by surgically altering her looks. In the world of celebrity, this certainly warrants a confession.
You wouldn't “admit” to or “confess” that you've had a haircut or a tattoo. But cosmetic surgery is the highest bar of vanity, something worthy of our collective ridicule. Kylie Jenner learned this at the tender age of seventeen when her “confession” that she'd been using lip fillers was viewed millions of times across dozens of YouTube channels, then spawned the “Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge”: “hilarious” videos of people parodying her with grotesquely swollen lips. Her youth is excruciatingly apparent in the video which shows her being hounded by a (much older, male) reporter as to just how she got “those beautiful lips”. She avoids eye contact and nervously fidgets as she evades the question, every inch the teenager. But the rules are the rules: she’s a woman in public, so she better get used to having every inch of her beauty - including how she achieved it - scrutinised, mocked and parodied.
Reports of Iggy's “confession” are, by the way, nonsense - her statement in Seventeen on the issue is honest, matter-of-fact, and unapologetic:
“There are things that I didn’t like about myself that I changed through surgery. There are other things I dislike but I’ve learned to accept. It’s important to remember you can’t change everything. You can never be perfect.”
Glib, but fair. What more can we expect from anyone being asked a personal question who owes the questioner nothing? Jezebel don't offer any suggestions, but they still bristle at Iggy's statement:
“Not all bad advice, not all good advice, but most definitely not the best advice for Seventeen’s very young audience.”
Which begs the question, what the hell do we actually want from Iggy Azalea and her contemporaries? She needs to be gorgeous, but she can't try too hard (God forbid those dainty little faces should show any strain), or be seen to care about her looks (she's beautiful but with low enough self-esteem not to realise, a la One Direction’s celebratory tune You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful). On top of all of this, she has to be “a good role model” to young girls at the same time. It sounds exhausting. Which as we all know, shows in the face. No wonder they're all screaming for the knife.
It's regrettable but more understandable when a woman who has built a career on her looks – an actress or model – feels the need to maintain them by any means necessary. But last year Rebecca Adlington got a nose job. Having her natural nose didn't stop her from winning four Olympic medals, but she told The Daily Mail that she's “happier now”, while simultaneously citing cruel taunts as the reason for getting surgery.
We welcome diversity in male beauty. Male musicians can look however they like as long as they have the right attitude - people like Matt Bellamy and Thom Yorke attract their fair share of loyal followers. David Wenham recently signed up to Storm modelling agency, while Gary Oldman and James McAvoy have modelled for Prada. Who would ever suggest that Adrian Brody or Owen Wilson got nose jobs? Look at Matt Smith, Eric Lampaert and even The Cumberbatch – each beautiful, yes, but not uniformly so.
While Tess Holliday, Chantelle Winnie and Ruby Rose are broadening the bandwidth of female beauty, the real issue is why a woman's looks - “good” or bad”, “before” or “after” - ought to be a source of shame. In other words: leave Iggy alone. If you’re joining in on the pile-on about her “plastic surgery confession”, you’re part of the problem.
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