It seems we've reached the point of equal opportunity obsessive vanity.
A doctor in Beverly Hills, California is now installing silicone implants for men who feel their pecs aren't quite up to par.
Dr. Mel Bircolli told Newsweek magazine he has performed 50 pectoral implants in the last 18 months, at about $6,500 a pop. He also does calf implants for about $5,000. The story didn't mention bicep or tricep enhancement, but something tells me if those aren't available, they soon will be.
The pec implants, like other cosmetic surgery procedures, have a medical genesis. They were originally developed to correct chest deformities caused by birth defects or accidents, much the way nose jobs help alleviate deviated septums.
The variation Bircolli developed for cosmetic purposes is a five-inch silicone lozenge that is inserted through an incision in the patient's armpit. Up to three can be inserted on each side of the chest, depending, I guess, on how much of a man you want to be.
Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like we've entered the Twilight Zone? People seem to be trying to turn themselves into human Barbie and Ken dolls.
It is now possible to surgically, chemically or otherwise artificially alter virtually any part of your appearance on which you feel nature gypped you.
The grandmothers of the movement perms and hair coloring and their offspring eyelash dyes, moustache bleaches, freckle lighteners seem downright pedestrian by today's standards.
Want to turn those brown eyes blue? Pop in a pair of colored contacts, even if you have 20/20 vision. If moustache bleach is too messy and mundane, electrolysis will rid you of upper-lip fuzz permanently.
Bite your fingernails? Hide the nubs with acrylic tips. Hair extensions woven to your scalp can solve the dilemma of too short/too limp/too fine hair.
And if you, like Tammy Faye Bakker, think your man should never be exposed to an unmade-up face, you can have eyeliner, blush and lipstick tattooed right on.
All of those procedures, of course, are done without general anesthesia. But for the die-hard self-critical, there are face-lifts, eye lifts, tummy tucks, collagen lip injections, liposuction and cheekbone implants.
And now men who previously have relied primarily on toupees, hair plugs and lifts for their shoes can surgically Schwarzenegger themselves.
This is progress?
Going too far
It's not that I think there's anything wrong with wanting to look your best, or with changing your looks. In fact, I think change is usually a positive move.
But at some point for my money, it's around the time you start thinking cheekbone implants, knee liposuction or silicone pectorals are reasonable and rational options the "you" you're trying to create becomes some warped fantasy figure that would be better off lying dormant in your dreams.
No one I know is happy with every aspect of his or her appearance. And generally speaking, anything we can do to improve self-esteem is fine, not to mention nobody else's business.
But I worry when our obsession with appearance compels us to undergo painful surgery in a narcissistic effort to make ourselves perfect.