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The Problem With Politeness

This might be a blog more about friends and difficult conversation than medical aesthetics, but here goes.  I was at a talk given by a famous childhood psychologist a few years back and I remember one comment he made that stuck with me.  It went something like this.

“The down fall of Canadian parenting is rooted in traditional British politeness.”

This was of course coming from an Italian psychologist!  His point was that we are often too polite for our own good.  Kids understand direct, “un-polite,” commands from parents that are not laced with too many pleases and thank yous.  You are supposed to say, “Go clean your room,” not, “Please go clean your room. I would really appreciate it, thank you.”  The message ends up lost in politeness.

I can’t tell you how many times women in my ReNue Clinics ask me how to approach their friend because they no longer look natural as they age.  It happened again last week, so I just had to write something. I think the issue relates back to politeness.

Here is the point:

Many of you have friends or colleagues who have received medical aesthetic treatments or had plastic surgery and have ended up with big chipmunk cheeks and walking lips.  Or, over time you no longer recognize your friend when they pass you on the street. And, you all know that person in the office who doesn’t have a wrinkle on their face but just doesn’t look quite right.

Ask yourself this question: If you had toilet paper hanging off your dress or spinach between your teeth, would you want your friend to tell you?  I would hope so.  I tell my patients that it is your duty, no… it is your obligation as a friend to pull them aside, “politely,” and tell them that maybe they should at least get another opinion about their aesthetic treatments, that they might be doing a bit too much and that you are worried that they are not looking natural.  If you want to be blunt, tell them that they look funny and no longer look like themselves. But that is not very Canadian of us.

Stop being so darn polite!

If they are your friend, they will appreciate you saying something.  Sometimes they are just getting bad advice and think they look great.  Other times they don’t know that there are options to age well and look natural. Sometimes, the plastic surgeons of the past have already been involved and it is too late.

As medical aesthetics has advanced, we are now at a point of being able to understand how the face ages naturally and how to treat it in a natural, corrective fashion without distorting and exaggerating features.

Now, here is where the tricky part comes in.  Some people like to have really big cheeks and big lips. This is no different than coloring your hair blue or getting piercings or tattoos.  I love self-expression and individualism. This blog is not directed at these people.  It is for the people who think they look great and they just don’t, but nobody has the courage to tell them any different.

So, here is your mission, should you choose to accept it.  Step up, eat a bowlful of brave and promise to tell at least one of your friends that it is time they seek a second opinion.  Maybe there is a better way to break the news that they look funny, but stop being so darn polite already!

Tell your friends to contact my office for a second opinion on aesthetic treatment options for aging gracefully and undoing some of that overdone appearance.


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