I am now the (proud? confused? overwhelmed?)owner of two prosthetic eyes and for the first time in my life, my eyes not only look normal but also match. Very intense experience.
Choices had to be made about the way my new eyes would look. I could have instructed the artist to copy pictures of my old eyes. I could have instructed him to do just about anything. Instead I chose to have “normal” eyes in my face. It was a terrifying thing to choose because I knew it could change absolutely everything.
For quite some time, I have believed that plastic surgery has risks that at least for me far outweigh any potential benefit. In my own life, I have paid dearly for my “normalized” appearance. In fact, I pay a price every day because of chronic pain etc. More reconstructive surgery to “improve” my face seems like a worse idea than jumping off a five story building.
I know I have given people the impression that I don’t care about how I look, but that’s not quite the truth. In actuality, I care about the impression I create, but not in the typical way. I want my outside to feel like my inside. While I have rejected traditional standards of beauty, I do have my own desires that boil down to me visually embodying the sassy, witty, animated, quirky woman I know myself to be. Freed from societal beliefs about what beauty should be, I have been able to be how I want to be and pay only the price I deem reasonable.
Deciding to have “normal” eyes was a tough decision, but I came to realize that intentionally looking different was a deliberate choice to violate appearance norms. It felt like being different not because different happened to coincide with what I wanted but merely for the sake of being different. That’s not the type of person I want to be. As you know, having an abnormal appearance does have costs especially in terms of how others treat me. Any decision to continue looking “abnormal” would be the equivalent of choosing those bad annoying behaviors. It would bring a degree of negativity into my life that I do not want and would feel responsible for its continuation.
Total honesty dictates I also admit to wanting to have “pretty” eyes. Maybe it’s internalized social norms. After all, my eyes were the most “abnormal” part of my appearance. Maybe that type of eyes fits my internal image of myself. Maybe I’m a complete hypocrite. You decide. All I know is that deep inside I wanted them.
My reasons here seem very clear and logical. There’s a cleanness to the whole process that, trust me, wasn’t present while I was working through it. Even now I have a sense of betraying my own beliefs with this choice.
No matter the decision I made, I knew I would never feel quite the same. Yet again, I would be faced with adjusting to another version of myself. As a child, surgery after surgery, I wrapped my mind around the new face molded from flesh and bone. Now I must expand my reality to encompass this new version. Can’t quite count it, but I think maybe Jen version 5.2.
[A follow-up to this entry can be found at
It’s in the Eyes.]