One thing about being an eccentric means that even if I’m open-minded, I’m still a non-conformist, and I need to realize the need for people to conform to being themselves—which means they don’t always aim to act or look a certain way for others—and that does include a one-time shot at surgery to change one’s appearance. One thing friends and family have taught me is that while they appear to be conforming to a standard of society, really, sometimes a change just means people are trying to feel more like themselves, regardless of how others see them; and that can be very beautiful.

I never understood why people got plastic surgery, and it took a few people in my family to realize that the changes weren’t for others—it was completely their own choice and need to feel like themselves when they looked in the mirror. My only question was “why?” when they told me about the operation they were about to go under for, but now, even though my own personal choice is to avoid any surgeries, I see how it’s right for them. In my own situation, three women in my family opted for breast implants, and though my only comment was that I didn’t understand, others in my family liked to hold it against them when they could.

My understanding of changing one’s appearance came through something closer to home for me than surgery—it was when front man Adam Duritz of The Counting Crows talked about his dreadlock extensions. While dreadlocks aren’t for me, I do love a good hairpiece or hot fusion hair extensions stemming from my background as a Cosmetologist. Duritz said he didn’t feel like himself when he looked in the mirror until he had those dreads, and that he finally felt like himself–who he was on the inside.

I began to think from the point of view of a licensed cosmetologist, and how to this day I change my hair to match my Martial Arts belts because that’s who I am inside and what I stand for. I began to realize that these people I think society pressured into changing just wanted to feel like themselves when they looked in the mirror, and now I get it.

Okay, as a Psych major I know you’ll bring me body dysmorphic disorder on the other hand, in which people get habitual plastic surgeries and become virtually unrecognizable. The friends and family I know have only gotten one surgery–breast implants, and don’t plan to get any more surgeries. Yes, our hair is a less permanent change than body structure, but there is no harm done to others.

Also, some people do complete many procedures and will tell you it’s for shock value or because they are seeking attention. If that is your thing, then that’s another world I have yet to understand, but still, I don’t know you well enough to make assumptions about you. I am talking about one thing that people with healthy bodies change, and not due to medical necessity.

As far as medical necessity goes, there are many surgeries that don’t improve body functionality—the most widely accepted being dental procedures. We have tooth-white filings available as opposed to the formerly noticeable metals, and porcelain veneers, which are very permanent, just like grinding down a bone or implanting something or another. There are also dental procedures that require anesthesia, just like other body modifications. The list of modifications– temporary and permanent– goes on, but the main message stays: you don’t know anyone’s own personal reason for doing so, and that reason can be personal and not for attention or anyone else.

The truth is that everybody wants to express themselves—and in a world where operations are safer (my wisdom teeth removal required anesthesia and a scalpel too) than they used to be, the end result outweighs the risk. If you wear clothes, no matter what they look like, you are exuding your personality—even if it’s just to be comfortable. You can’t avoid expressing yourself, so do it on your own terms, and if it isn’t hurting anyone, it’s not wrong for you, even though it might not be right for someone else.

If you tell me a surgery is for you and only you, then I should take your word for it, because when you look in the mirror I want you to feel the way you do on the inside, and recognize your reflection in order to reflect easier during the one life you get to live. I am lucky to have had beautiful people teach me that.