Judith Warner over at the NY Times Opinionator blog is musing today about a section of the embattled health care reform bill that has the National Organization of Woman all atwitter: a so-called Bo-Tax.
This proposal would levy a 5 percent tax on cosmetic surgery procedures, which, at last count, are still sought by women more than men. NOW’s argument is ridiculous, IMHO, and completely against what feminism once stood for. (Remember, girls? We didn’t want to be judged by the size of our bras but the size of our brains? Ah, those were the days.) Then again, feminism has morphed in the past decades, so much so that young college women now translate it to mean they should sleep around with as many young men as possible to prove they’re as good as men. We have a sleaze-factor in the women’s movement that should make true feminists cringe, but instead, you have the movement’s leaders focusing on access to abortion and now, access to cosmetic surgery at the lowest possible price.
“Now they are going to put a tax on middle-aged women in a society that devalues them for being middle-aged?” NOW Prez Terry O’Neill whined to the Times a few days ago.
Please. Our society may devalue women (and men) as we age, but that doesn’t mean we should all flock to the surgeon to remake ourselves and not expect to pay for it. We’re not talking fixing cleft palates here or dental problems or any number of necessary procedures that can help people to live better lives. We’re talking feeding into an obsession with youth and vanity that should have been nipped in the bud a long time ago.
Fact #1, we’ve got an aging, burgeoning population. Fact #2, we have a limited amount of money. Fact #3, we’ve got lots of poor people who can’t afford basic health care. Fact #4, getting a breast lift or a face lift or a butt lift is less important than helping subsidize health care, like immunizations and antibiotics for people who can’t afford it.
I admit I’ve been terrified since being laid off that I won’t get hired once I finish my teacher prep program. In a glutted job market, employers have the pick of the crop. Maybe principals will prefer a 25 year old to a 50 year old. I’ve thought, “Good gravy, I’ll have to find the magic ‘look younger’ formula and find it fast.” There’s evidence that there is age-discrimination out there in the dog-eat-dog world of un- and under-employment and, when push comes to shove, would I be willing to pay $2,000 for a painful procedure if it made me look 10 years younger and thus, put me in the “employable” range during an interview? I hope I can get a job on my brains, not my face.
But maybe brains won’t be enough. Last year, a woman wrote an anonymous blog post about how she got Botox because she’d been passed over for a full-time professor job at a community college numerous times, even though she’d had years of experience as an adjunct with great references and reviews. After she got the Botox, she once again applied for a full-time job and … she landed it. Also of note in that blog – a statistic revealing that about 40 percent of all men over 50 have gotten Botox injections, so fearful are they of not getting jobs.
So, yeah, our society sucks in its view of the “older worker” (off to Walmart greeter land to you, we say!), and maybe we’ll have to play that game to get a job. But if we do, we should pay for it, even if it is taxed. Face it, it ain’t the poor women who can afford this, so a five percent levy isn’t as “discriminatory” as NOW is alleging. And the more important effort would be in raising the cache of all “older” workers instead of buying into the Demi Moore method of “remaking” our bodies as well as focusing on getting the most vulnerable among us the health care that is actually needed.