Infinite Chest

No. 4: Life is beautiful, just like you

Talk all you want about the other shit—politics this, culture that; I'm bored with you and your CCCP buddies. What's best about Orange County is elitist and uncomfortable and dirtier than 4 a.m. phone sex TV ads. It's more elemental than all that righteous goodness, all the things that better OC residents work and fight and bleed for. Simply put: it's beauty.

It's balls-to-the-wall gorgeous here. Accept it and be smug like the letterman-jacket-wearing football player rapist you are. Do you know how many places in the free world are constantly sunny, bordered by beaches, littered with wee perfect shops and galleries and cafés and pinned to the firma by strangely beautiful architecture? Just here. Yeah. Even the most heartbreaking of inland OC ghettos would be vacation homes in Detroit. Aesthetic culture is what first and most significantly defines a given place in the world, and the aesthetic culture of Orange County is one of hotness.

It follows, then, that such a totem of privilege and visual abundance would require its citizens to hold up their end. Which means, in highly competitive and very wealthy Orange County, an awful lot of plastic surgery. That's "awful," as in "full of awe."

Accepting and ultimately embracing OC's surgeried breasts, noses, penises, thighs, foreheads and beyond may take a great deal of intellectual work for those of us disposed to a correct/Democratic outlook. Cosmetic surgery is, after all, a moral and philosophical sticky wicket. Is it feminist or anti-feminist? Are the results an improvement on nature or do they destroy what is truly beautiful? What does this say about the region's values and desires? Does this present a slippery slope? Can such a slope be surgically corrected?

But hey, listen: it doesn't matter. Sophomoric queries into the rights and wrongs and motivations behind cosmetic surgery overlook that in these heady days of post-irony we're allowed to value the things our guts tell us to. It is a greater thing to be genuine in an appreciation of the culturally nefarious than to fake a crush on Brian Eno. If you are beautiful, your life will applaud you. If you would be beautiful, or almost, with some practiced slips of a knife, and especially if you choose to live in Orange County, it seems awfully deluded to forgo the experience on principle. Oh, and uggos? It ain't so bad, just be rich.

Please understand, sun-warmed and geographically privileged friends, that the extreme body sculpting seen en massein Orange County is jarring to outsiders. When I was a green Californian Ms. Ellen Griley took me to the then-brand-new Tentation Ultra Lounge. After exhausting my childish, assholio giggling over the Newport Beach club's stupid name ("'Tentation,' ha, real clever"), I turned my cynicism elsewhere: to the titties. I knew from TV that there was a different aesthetic tradition at work here. I didn't know that women with obvious boob jobs were so . . .everywhere. It's not like this in other parts of the country, you know. Orange County is a rarefied place in that its doctors and lawyers and moms look like the trophy wives found in every other pricey urban center. Basically we win at good-looking and as such we win at life. The very thing that everyone else in the first world is taught to stress about constantly is pretty much taken care of. The emphasis on fitness and beauty doesn't deplete the value of Orange County culture either; it elevates it. We're the queen bees, the Marine Corps and the tenured of world citizens because we live in a society where large high-water breasts and flat stomachs are as good as currency. To borrow a credo from our Republican friends, the only thing we're owed in life is the opportunity to work hard. So what if we're working hard on creating the perfect silhouette?

This isn't to say that cosmetic surgery as a thing is any good. It's actually kind of horrifying how much of it goes on, how many young people are after it and the number of bizarro physical flaws that people see in themselves—too-slim calves, too-fat vag, no chin, too much chin, lips that are too '80s, boobs that are too '90s. Truly it is another nail in the rational coffin.

But c'mon: y'all know who you chose to govern the state. Who are you kidding? Rationality and modesty have no place here. When thought of as an amusing Californian pastime instead of its aesthetic death knell, the culture of plastys begins to look like an enormous art project that has turned a whole population into mono-faced pod people with hot bods. And, for the record, I'm not sure I trust men who claim to like natural bodies and faces over the surgically perfected. Barring the Jocelyn Wildenstein-ed, women who are willing to entertain the idea of a little Botox are probably better maintained than their track pants-ed sisters. Just sayin'.

The propagation of nips and tucks in Orange County does more than edit our collective genetic gifts—the industry, which is booming, is more or less responsible for keeping this pushy, irritable, smart and necessary paper going. Essentially, labiaplasties pay Commie Girl's salary (Hey, sexy!). If other girls want to get their asses sucked out so I can sit on mine and write about it, that's cool by me. Like a wise man (okay, the dudes in De La Soul) once said: "Life is beautiful. It's just the shit in it that's fucked up." Life is beautiful. Your life is beautiful. So get into it.

 
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