Asheville is a kind of, well, “au naturel” sort of place you could say – especially the yoga circles in which I travel. Its not uncommon to find a furry-legged teacher with a make-up-less face leading the class.

At a recent barbecue I attended, the host polled barefooted guests with the dog or burger question – mind you, it was understood that he meant veggie dog or burger. Guests sipped ginger beer and discussed which mala beads they liked to use best and why – one person spent 10 minutes explaining to me how his guru had recently, psychically implanted a mantra in his heart chakra and how his mind had been ringing with it since. Now, that’s what I call FUN! Okay, I’m a geek, I know, but I love this place. No one asked me how my portfolio was doing.

When I visit Florida or California, I often feel like I’ve landed on a different planet. Last weekend I didn’t leave Asheville actually, I just went to the Grove Park Inn for dinner with visiting relatives. It was definitely a different planet – one, it would appear, that is inhabited primarily by silicon-enhanced beings.

According to American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) statistics, nearly 329,000 breast augmentation procedures were performed last year.  (These figures may include reconstruction surgeries as well.) That’s up 221% since 1997…

And in 2008, 8.7 million appearance changing plastic surgery procedures were performed, according to American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) statistics, up 32 percent from 6.6. million in 2002. That increase, by the way corresponds with the onset of reality tv shows like Extreme Makeover. Breast augmentation was the number one procedure.

So if you think that you’ve been seeing more plastic surgery lately than ever before – you’re not crazy, you have.

Europeans (and most aliens) think we are insane. Personally I think little breasts are cute and comfortable, thank you very much (and they make shoulderstand a whole lot easier).

But on a compassionate note, I wonder how much psychic pain a person must be in to submit to the knife. How do we collectively ensure that people find value in their being-ness rather in their appearance?

When I was visiting my meditation teacher in Mongolia in 1995, she took me to see the dead bodies. Didi is a yogic nun who runs the Lotus Children’s Centre in the capital, Ulaan Bataar , but Mongolians are mostly Tibetan Buddhists so they throw the bodies of their dead out into the vast, wild fields to be returned to nature. I guess Didi wanted me to see all the tourists the sights before I left ;-> So we went to the fields. Didi put her scarf over her mouth as she approached a few bodies – most of them had had a tummy tuck, well actually, they had had their abdominal contents removed, most likely by wolf, wild dog or vulture surgeons.

I had a hard time remaining on my feet. The closest body I got to was a skeleton with nothing but the remains of one heel intact. That was slightly tolerable. Didi came over next to me to look at my find, then looked at me quizzically and said, “We all end up like this…It’s amazing how much time people spend on their appearance isn’t it?”


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