Sisterhood Blog

Jews and the 'Bo-tax'

By Elissa Strauss

  • Print
  • Share Share

The Slate folks recently had an online spat about Congress’s idea to help cover the cost of health care with a 5% tax on elective cosmetic surgery. On the main site Christopher Beam argued against the tax, using studies to show that, despite assumptions that this would only affect the rich, one-third of the people getting plastic surgery make under $30,000 a year, while 86% make under $90,000. He also makes the case that better-looking people are often more productive and higher earners.

Meanwhile, Jessica Dweck, over at Slate’s women’s-interest blog the XX Factor, argues that there is nothing wrong with the so-called “botax.” She thinks that this would be more akin to a sin tax, as opposed to a payroll or an income tax, and best serves as a discouragement to questionable behavior. Dweck writes:

If the majority of those going under the knife cannot afford to do so, the government should dissuade its low-earning citizens from frittering away their scarce resources on larger breasts and firmer calves and encourage them to invest in education instead.

Now the fact that the tax was presented as a way to cover the estimated trillion-dollar cost of the proposed health care bill, and it was not an attempt at “father Obama knows best,” as Dweck calls it, is besides the point. This is still a pretty interesting debate on the plastic surgery.

At first I read Dweck and cheered.

Then I realized that a lot of people I know have had plastic surgery. And none of them look like the “Swan,” from the makeover TV show. They had a nose job or their ears pinned back or their breasts slightly augmented or reduced. Do I agree with all of their choices? No. But overall these surgeries did boost their confidence — and don’t seem to have served as a gateway procedure for a life filled with nips and tucks.

Since the first nose job, by a Jew to a Jew, was performed, there’s plentiful anecdotal evidence that we have been pretty big consumers of the stuff. And I can’t say it has all been in vain.

Dweck believes that the poor should stay away from the knife and “invest in education.” We Jews are a group that have always done both, and I think that both are probably responsible for our assimilation and relative success in this country — of course, not in equal measure. But I do think that our willingness to physically manipulate ourselves is connected to our drive.

This is not to say that I endorse any specific standards of beauty and have certainly witnessed the insecurities such standards can stoke. But, let’s be realistic: Such standards exist; they have always existed — in every society. Of course these standards change over time and, in recent years, have rightfully expanded to include a much more diverse range of features.

As far as the Slate debate goes, I fall on the side of Beam, especially when I think about the fact that 86% of cosmetic surgery patients are females, according to the Los Angeles Times. I think there is a lot of work to be done on improving self-acceptance in women, but this isn’t one of them.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Plastic Surgery, Health Care, Botax

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.


Comments
Leah Fri. Dec 11, 2009

Really interesting post! I think I would tend to agree with you Elissa. I also worry about the definition of "elective cosmetic surgery" and how that will affect trans people in the process of transitioning. Will laser hair removal count as elective? Breast augmentation or reduction? There are so many existing barriers to sexual reassignment surgery already - will this tax make these "cosmetic" ones even less attainable?




Find us on Facebook!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.