Tag Archives: Identity

Would I do Plastic Surgery?

Editor’s note: This is a follow-up from Tuesday’s post on how youths these days seek to attain that “perfect look”.

I admit, I am a victim of vanity. I wish I was born with a smaller and sharper nose. Doesn’t this sound familiar?  As it is with all vain people, wishing to change parts of our appearance is common, especially if you weren’t born looking like Emma Watson.  But would I ever undergo plastic or cosmetic surgery to change my features? My answer would be a solid no.

A good majority of us have heard the perennial argument against plastic surgery – our features are unique to us and we must learn to love and accept ourselves for who we are. However, I would like to share another reason which I have discovered upon further reflection and introspection.

During my internship, I was tasked to read through some parenting blogs. As a result, I was suddenly exposed to a brand new perspective on things – the world as parents see it. It was interesting to note that amongst the numerous fresh insights I garnered, I also noticed a common thread of thought that weaved through the blog stories – the joy of discovering themselves in their children.

One very interesting post by Nick Pan was illuminating for me. He asked what is, to me, an interesting question: “Would my baby be cute?” It may seem like a quirky fear to struggle with, but it isn’t necessarily so when you stop to think about it. His fears disappeared the moment he laid eyes on her and I quote,

“Then It dawned upon me. My child is beautiful to me because my child is a product of my wife and I. My child looks familiar as she has the genetics from both my wife and I. My eyes, my wife’s grace, my nose, my wife’s lips. No matter how our baby looks, she is going to look familiar; she is going to look like the product of our love.”

So why would I not agree to undergo plastic surgery if I were given the chance to do it for free? It’s simply because I am a product of my parents’ love. I look familiar to my parents, and what they see in me, is what I see in them. Every part of my face and body has come from the unique and intricate combination of my parents’ genetics.

I imagine the joy that my parents must have felt as I was growing up and their sense of familiarity as they saw themselves in me. I love my parents, and no matter how old I become, I still want to look familiar to them.  In addition, even after they pass on, I want to still be able to see their faces in mine.

Similarly, it is these God-given features of mine that I want to see when I gaze into my children’s faces in the future, and to enjoy the beautiful miracle of each child being a product of the love that my future husband and I will have for each other. So no, I will not resort to plastic surgery, because if I do, I know that I would have missed out on this most beautiful miracle that comes from embracing this face, this body that I’ve been blessed with for all time.

This guest post comes courtesy of Rachel Kan, a former intern with Focus on the Family Singapore and university undergraduate. All views expressed in this post are Rachel’s own.

Perfection vs Keeping it Real

Full cascading hair, narrow face structure, almond-shaped eyes, and Angelina Jolie’s famous full lips – these are the ideal features of a beautiful woman. Or are they?

A recent survey found that one in three Singaporean youths feel it is perfectly acceptable to go for cosmetic procedures at their age. According to Dr Frederick Lukash, a New York plastic surgeon interviewed by The New York Times, many youths “do it to fit in.”

Images of ‘perfect’ men and women on advertisements and social media subtly influence us into thinking we need a specific product in order to look appealing. What youths are not consciously aware of is that many of these images today are edited computer composites.

Youths are at the phase in their lives where they are discovering their identities and are susceptible to conforming to society’s pervasive ideal values and beauty standards. Hence, it is hardly surprising that many of them believe it is not wrong to undergo plastic surgery as a ‘corrective measure’ in order to gain recognition from others or just to look ‘normal’.

It is unfortunate that many youths feel great dissatisfaction over their looks.

In our role as parents, guardians, relatives, mentors, teachers or friends, our role is not merely to shelter our next generation from negative influences that affect their sense of self-worth, but also to help them develop strong, positive values that can strengthen their self-esteem. We can do this by:

  • Connecting genuinely: Ensure that they are comfortable approaching you with any frustrations they may have about their looks. Be slow to judge or dictate how they should feel, and make the effort to truly understand their point of view.
  • Encouraging character development: Looks matter, but they are temporal. Remind them that what’s inside is most important. We are wholesome only when we balance presentation with positive character and values.
  • Providing meaningful affirmation: This is especially important when they are being teased because of their looks. During this sensitive period when a youth’s self-esteem is fragile, your reminders about their uniqueness and value will go a long way. Remind them that their worth is not based on attaining society’s seemingly ‘perfect’ images.
  • Setting a good example for a balanced, healthy lifestyle: Youths pick up habits, attitudes, and mindsets (good or bad) from you. Model a healthy self-image for them and implement family practices like eating healthily and exercising regularly together.
  • Role-modelling self-love and confidence: If you constantly express dissatisfaction with your weight or facial features (from the small grouses like “My tummy is so big!” to the “I wish my ears were smaller”) yet tell them that they are fine as they are, it sends across mixed signals – and your actions will eradicate the impact of your words. Being confident and loving yourself as you are will give the youths you are interacting with an example to follow.

To quote Zoe Kravitz, an American actress and model: “Beauty is when you can appreciate yourself. When you love yourself, that’s when you’re most beautiful.”  Let’s be there to sincerely say to our youths, “You are beautiful even when you think you aren’t, and I love you for who you are.”

Editor’s note: Are you curious to know what youths think about plastic surgery? We asked an undergraduate to pen her thoughts, and her unique yet heartwarming perspective is definitely worth reading. Keep a look out for it this Saturday!

Much to think about Lin-sanity

Lin-sanity… yea, you know what I am talking about. Just a few weeks ago, our Facebook Newsfeed was dominated by news and videos of the latest NBA star, Jeremy Lin. “Does this guy get anymore awesome??!” This was my friend’s Facebook status after reading The Faith and Fate of Jeremy Lin on http://www.patheos.com. I can understand my friend’s exclamation. I mean a Harvard student, the underdog, near perfect stats yet humble, unassuming and persevering.

Once in a while, we need people like him to inspire us. It was revealed that Jeremy Lin’s parents played a pivotal role in shaping his character through the game of basketball. They were always more interested in his behavior on court than in his stats. If he played a good game (i.e. scored well) but lost his temper in the course of it, the topic of discussion his parents wanted to talk to him about after the game would be his behavior. No wonder Jeremy Lin is dazzling the crowd, not just with his skills but his humble attitude towards success and fame.

My son is 6 months old and I won’t lie, I simply adore him and I am guilty of spoiling him, almost. So it’s good that in view of the current of Lin-sanity, I remind myself of what truly matters in my child’s life.

1. Character
Does my son know the good, feel the good and do the good? We teach this at ‘No Apologies’, our character-based sexuality education for youth. It’s not enough for my child to know the right thing to do and feel in his heart that he ought to do something, he needs to translate it into action.

2. Confidence
Is my son secure in his identity? Jeremy Lin looks different from the rest on the court but yet he seems comfortable and confident. The security I’m talking about is not learned through any Toastmasters or Networking 101 courses, but established at a child’s tender age when he is loved unreservedly by his parents.

3. Compassion
What breaks my son’s heart? And I’m not talking about that first crush or rejection he is going to get from that girl. I’m talking about a passion, an injustice he sees in the society which stirs and moves him to action.

4. Calling
Finally, what is my son’s life going to count for? Once he grasps that, everyday for him will be joyous and purposeful. Isn’t that life at its best?

I know, my son is still a baby and I need to chill a little. But this is more for me than him. There is a wise saying, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” My husband and I have the responsibility to train and nurture this precious life given to us. And hopefully someday, he may just be that inspiration for others.

This week’s blog is written by Vicky Ho, Senior Communications Manager, at Focus on the Family Singapore.

Who am I?

I certainly didn’t think much about it while in junior college. I thought I had it all: sports achievements, decent grades, shoes that look better than my uniform… basically everything and anything a teenager wanted or needed to feel good. But then I started university, and everything was different. It was huge new world where I didn’t have anything: my friends were dispersed, I was no longer in a sports team, I didn’t belong anywhere… I just felt lost. Nobody knew me, and I didn’t know anyone either.

As uncomfortable as that felt, the “lostness” forced me to realize that that was more to me – more to anyone – than what they have done or what they had. As I got to know people and form new friendships, two things struck me:

  1. It’s cliché, but people are who they are on the inside, and this shines through in how they approach life. It also means that people can see who you really are based on how they see you react to things. Are you considerate of others? Do you give them the respect they deserve?
  2. Knowing what you value helps. For me, it was the usual myriad of values such as love and loyalty. It was also the relationships with the people I loved and my aspirations to be a psychologist. Once I had my values clear, I realised how much I really had! I wasn’t nobody. There are so many other things that define me.

I have since made many new friends, each more unique and beautiful than the ones before. They know who they are. How? They know what they value and stick by what they believe in. And it is that easy self-confidence that speaks far louder than any title.