Although Dr. Seuss might have been focusing on racism or religious discrimination when he wrote about the Sneetches, I often think about cosmetic surgery for women – and especially breast implants – when I think about those odd bird-like creatures. The story follows the society of Sneetches who pay money to Sylvester McMonkey McBean to have their stars put on their bellies or taken off of their bellies. The driving force to have the star on or off is whatever the Sneetches feel is societally correct. Deep inside their beings they feel incomplete or “less than” the others in their community. The cultural expectation is driving their beliefs – and although Dr. Seuss doesn’t tell us where they get those cultural expectations, I can GUESS that it’s from Sneetch TV and Sneetch Internet and Sneetch marketing on billboards, magazines and newspapers! For all I know there’s a website encouraging Sneetches to love their bellies just as they are born; but the cultural pressure drowns out the voices.

So now I’ll quote the statistics. They are staggering, are you ready? According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons 91% of all plastic surgeries are performed on women and the incidence has increased 5% from 2009 to 2010 with 11.5 million cosmetic procedures. The number one surgery is breast implants and it has been #1 since 2006. The percentage of implants that are silicone over saline is also increasing.

So with this many breast implants obviously there’s a Sneetch cultural norm that is driving us Sneetches to either increase the size of our breasts (usually) or decrease the size of our breasts (occasionally) to fit the cultural expectation of Sneetch breast size. Never mind that the whole function of breasts is to nurture the next generation of Sneetches! Sometimes that fact gets lost in the shuffle. And the safety of implants continues to stay in the forefront of our awareness. The latest thing that got my attention was the specific type of lymphoma associated with implants. The numbers are small, to be sure. And the presence of inflammation that accompanies the implants in the patients who notice problems (persistent drainage or contraction of the capsule) questions whether it’s the implant or the interaction of the implant with the host.

I’m left with an appreciation and love for all the Sneetches – whether they have stars or not on their bellies. And my goal is to help each Sneetch feel that love and admiration for their uniqueness. And I’m wishing that all those people like Sylvester McMonkey McBean would turn their creative juices towards other problems like finding green energy sources….