Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

My reason for writing to you may appear trivial to many people who possibly will be reading it, should you see fit to print it, however, it has become the source of bitter fighting and tears between my daughter and myself. So please forgive me if I veer off course trying to explain what has happened, as I myself am at a loss to explain how all this came about.

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We are a strong yeshivishe family who moved to a large city from a little town in the mid-west where my husband worked as a shochet for a major meat producing enterprise. We had a beautiful, peaceful life and were members of a tight-knit yeshivishe community. Our children went to yeshivas and our two oldest, girls both, attended a Bais Yaakov with a firm Torah’dik hashkafa. Three years ago, due to the post-Covid economy and many problems within the company, my husband was let go from his job. For a short while he did find another position as a mashgiach in a nursing home in a neighboring state, where he would come home every second Shabbos, but it didn’t pay enough for us to be able to cover our expenses. This put a huge strain on our family life to say the least, however, as other families started moving to other cities because there was no work to be gotten, we too, chose to move to a large city with many yeshivishe communities, and where my husband was fortunate to find a good job.

The adjustment was very hard for me as I was not used to the big city way of life. Even though my husband’s salary appeared to be far more than he made before, everything kosher cost so much more than we were used to. Also, people within the community were not as welcoming as I had expected, everything and everyone was weighed and measured by the shul you were affiliated with. So this was a major education on our part. Our kids, on the other hand, took to life in the big city like fish to water.

Our eldest girl went to what we thought was a Bais Yaakov type high school for her third year. She was slow making friends as she felt like the a country bumpkin amongst the polished, savvy and worldly girls, but she made friends with a few girls that seemed nice and genuine. And here is where the problems started.

One day, my daughter came home with the news that her best friend Tzivi had just returned to school after having gotten a nose job, a Chanukah gift from her grandparents, and she looked gorgeous! She asked if she could also have her nose fixed because she always hated her hooked nose. I looked at her as if she had fallen on her head and told her there was nothing wrong with her nose and that should have ended it right there. But it went into a full-blown shrieking, screaming fit I had never seen before. I didn’t recognize this horrible sixteen-year-old creature that invaded my sensible, sweet-mannered daughter’s body. Each day she wailed and carried on that we were terrible parents for keeping her ugly while her friends were getting all kinds of work done to prepare themselves for jobs upon graduating, for shidduchim and for their own self-esteem.

I have reached the end of my rope, as has my husband. We want to take her for counseling but she refuses to go. I write to you because I know she and her friends read your column and hope against hope that you will find the right words to make her understand that there is no reason for her to surgically alter her appearance! Please address your reply to ‘Yaffa,’ not her name of course, but what she really is.

 

Dear Yaffa,

I know you find it strange and possibly a bit embarrassing to recognize yourself in the above letter, even though I’ve gone to great lengths to alter the information so no one else will recognize you. That said, I also want you to know that your parents love you very much and want nothing but the best for you. At your age, unless you have a severe deformity that only surgery can correct and enables you to have a relatively normal quality of life, DON’T DO IT!!! I don’t care how many of your friends have stuff done to their faces or bodies, at sixteen that is sacrilegious!! Not to mention, it can also be very dangerous… and sometimes deadly. And after the fact, you may not even like the results if one of your friends doesn’t like the outcome.

Look at the world renowned masterpiece painting of the Mona Lisa, do you think she’s beautiful? Pretty even? I’ve heard said that many people thought the artist had to be drunk to paint her the way he did, half smiling, a simple country girl, nothing special to some, yet to others beautiful. What I’m trying to say is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and is often amplified by one’s inner beauty. No surgeon, or procedure can bring that about. Hashem created all f us as one-of-a kind, original works of art by the Greatest Master Artist of all, why would you want to tamper with that?? Why risk your health, well-being and even life, on a gamble that your friends know better than the Ribbono Shel Olam?

I really do understand that you want to fit in, be one of the girls, but at what expense? You are a beautiful young lady, who will mature into a wonderful young woman based on the photo your mom enclosed, who will be grateful she didn’t mess with Hashem’s handiwork, which, if you had, would age you far more rapidly and require constant upkeep to maintain. I know this to be true as I see many women who started plastic surgery when they were very young and now have a steady appointment to the surgeon for maintenance. It becomes a lifetime endeavor.

You are perfect the way you are and you will be outwardly as beautiful as you choose to be, naturally and joyously approach life with love and gratitude to the Almighty for giving you everything you need to project that outward beauty that you seek, in a genuine, pure and joyous way.

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