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damage control

The question

I have a friend who has had a lot of plastic surgery lately and it’s quite obvious. It’s hard to look at her and yet also hard to look away. Should I say anything? Should I “compliment” her even though I find her transfiguration kind of freaky and weird? Please advise.

The new moms at work expect me to stay late because I’m single. Why isn’t my work/life balance respected?

Our daughter and son-in-law are strict vegetarians. What if our grandson wants to eat regular food?

I always say stupid things at parties. How do I stop?

The answer

Plastic surgery is an interesting phenomenon insofar as it can go well, or it can go poorly.

The only analogy I can make, as a man with tattoos, is to them. People are all like: “I hate tattoos.” My feeling is, well, some are good, some are not. What you want is a talented tattoo artist.

In fact, I would go further and say it is important in life to surround yourself with talented people. Your dentist should be talented. Your doctor should be talented. If you get on a plane, you better hope your pilot is talented.

People surprise me by acting as if all dentists and doctors and pilots are the same. No way! Say you’re in a plane and something goes wrong. Untalented pilot: you crash and die. Talented pilot: He or she does something tricky such as landing in a river and you all live and get to go home to your friends or families.

And I would say the same for plastic surgeons – because it’s your face! The other analogy I would draw between plastic surgery and tattoos is if the person performing one or the other on you screws up, you have to go back to that same person, or at the very least someone in the same profession, to try to correct it.

Now, I (in part because I’ve had a lifelong connection to the television news industry) have seen both kinds of plastic surgery: talented, and not.

I’ve seen people who have had subtle work done on, say, their neck and eyelids, and come away looking much better than before.

But I’ve also seen cases where the person has transmogrified him or herself to the point it’s almost hard, as you say, either to look at, or to look away.

It sounds like your friend has fallen into the latter category.

Bottom line, I would not say anything one way or another about your friend’s appearance.

As the comedian Dave Chappelle once said about Michael Jackson’s long, slow, drawn-out transmogrification of his appearance (I’m paraphrasing Chappelle here): “Just remember: In some way, he’s doing it for you.”

Same with your friend. Say to yourself: “Whatever she is doing is for you and the rest of us.”

And, as always, react with compassion. I want to tread somewhat carefully here, because I don’t want to seem like I am in any way opposed to plastic surgery – I’m not. Sometimes, the thought of it makes me a little sad, but we all do whatever we have to do to remain attractive – but there is a possibility your friend is experiencing an emptiness or self-loathing she is attempting to address with getting all this work done.

I would just do whatever I could to be kind to her. Not to comment on her appearance, but to look past it to the person within.

Some of us are tall. Some are short. Some are old. Some are young. Some are beautiful. And some get work done in an attempt to become beautiful. In a way, I suppose it all matters, but what really matters, in my humble opinion, is what kind of person resides within all this skin, so address that first and foremost and I think you’ll do fine.

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