For want of a better description, I’m going to call this my cautionary rant on plastic surgery insanity; these are all true stories (even as a novelist, I couldn’t make this stuff up). I offer four tales from the dark side.

Recently in the city of Shanghai a contest was held. The Competition was for the title of The Ugliest Girl in Shanghai (which is, a rather massive place). There were 50 finalists. Guess what the prize was? A complete surgical reformation of the winner’s being. Now, try to imagine what must have been, a rather bizarre mix of emotions. “Oh Boy! I won!!! I won! I’m the absolute ugliest girl in a city of 24 odd million people!” Whoopee. Must have been quite a family celebration.

China, it seems, is even more obsessed with physical perfection than America or Brazil or Venezuela (I think those are the other biggest consumers for surgical reupholstery). In China, height has become so mega an issue that (are you ready?) if you are a woman under 5 ft. 1 or a man under 5 ft. 5 there are law schools that will not accept your application nor will the foreign service. In some cities women who are under 5 ft. 3 CAN’T TAKE THE DRIVING TEST.

Being short, also means, you are far less likely to find a good job or a husband or wife from a higher perch (literally and otherwise).

Of course, where there is a problem, there is a market and the new market, not just in China, by the way, was first developed in Russia to cure birth deformities, but now, is being used to make people taller!

To be taller, Chinese men and women are having the Russian procedure that involves (I won’t be too graphic, if you want the stomach-turning parts, Google it) basically, sawing your femur bones in half (disconnecting your legs from your feet) inserting various metal rods and posts and screws that run from outside your legs into these contraptions and then, as healing begins, the patient TIGHTENS THE SCREWS from the outside of their shins, calves, not sure where exactly, stretching the inside tissues, and while the bones heal you keep tightening, sort of the 21st century version of the Rack or one of the other ancient torture devices.

Besides the agonizing pain, there is the lying in bed for months at a time, and the enormous expense. One totally demented N.Y. man who was 5 ft. 6 but felt that inside he was SIX FEET spent a year and $85,000 I believe, to add six inches; never pausing to consider that any woman who would not have loved his 5 ft. 6 real self, and would love his 6 ft. fake self, was not, probably (this is just a guess) worth going through that for to begin with.

I’m imagining the first naked love scene between this guy and his dream girl.

“Oh, darling, you’re so sexy, you’re so tall! I hate short men. Hmmm, what are those weird scars and puncture marks all over your shins? War wounds? Did you suffer much?”

“I did suffer, but I did it for love. I was short, but I spent a year of agony and had six inches added to my height and then I met you.”

Off camera, sound of dream girl, fleeing in repulsion. I think the inches might have served his ultimate purpose better if he’d added them, well, you know, elsewhere but, maybe Randy Newman was right. “Short people got no reason to live.”

A Chinese man, no matter how brilliant or handsome, who is under 5 ft. 7 cannot apply for the Diplomatic Corp.

One more thing; when it doesn’t work? Well how about never being able to stand up again because your leg bones can’t support your weight? There are lots of horrific stories, but that one kind of says it all.

Next, ripped from the pages of my beloved N.Y. Post. There was recently an arrest in one of the five boroughs of N.Y.C. of a quite industrious lady, who figured out that in her Hood the women were craving Beyonce Butts, which seems to be the new site of sexual panting, formerly reserved for big fake boobs.

Hmm, She thought, probably while on a trip to Home Depot to do some repair work on her basement. HMMMMMMM. What if I got myself one of those guns that shoot silicone into wall boards and fills in cracks and stuff and shot it into their rears? A Eureka moment for the twerking set. And so, an entrepreneur was born. Without any surgical training, she converted (probably using the same materials) a room in her house and started advertising; far cheaper than liposuction from a real doctor and the word spread faster than a butt on a bar stool, women came.

God only knows what she actually did to them, but the result (hence arrest) resulted in the death of at least one “patient” and numerous blood infections, abscesses and lots of gobs of glue gunk moving around and ending up in very unexpected places, more Gumby than Beyonce. And, it seems, she is just one of many of these self-styled cosmetic improvers doing the same dangerous, crazy stuff all over the country. WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH US!

Finally, the ultimate madness. In Manhattan there was a former model, 59 years of age. 5 ft. 9 inches tall and 130 pounds, which even in anorexic circles would be considered damn thin. She was also, according to her ex-husband, so gorgeous that bands would stop playing when she entered a gala (well, that is fairly nauseating, anyway, but whatever). Even this was not enough glam for our girl, maybe a bit of sag around her middle, only noticeable, I bet, under merciless department store dressing room lights after demonic scrutiny. Sooooo, off she went to (at least) a plastic surgeon to have whatever it was, liposuctioned out.

Oh, there was just this one little thing. She’d had A HEART TRANSPLANT a few years before. She actually did put this information on her pre-op information form, so the doctor knew and she listed all the medications, etc. she probably needed to stay alive. No problema for him. Big problema for her. She died on the table of cardiac arrest. But, man oh man, did she look svelte in that open coffin. He then proceeded to delete the information about her HEART TRANSPLANT. Everyone is blaming him. Except me.

There will always be doctors or housewives with spackle guns preying on our insecurity and low self-esteem, which seems to be increasing social network day by day.

Teenagers are PHOTOSHOPPING THEIR SELFIES. No one wants to be who they are, nothing is enough, the bar keeps rising and the fucking Facebooking of the universe has turned us into a maddening crowd of increasingly superficial, pathological narcissists. I read about a new disorder of obsessive “selfie” taking where one teenage boy was taking up to 200 selfies a day, because none of them came out looking the way he wanted to look. We are becoming a race of emotional zombies, feeding on the tissue thin surfaces of what it means to be a valuable human being.

So, what’s next? Maybe docs will start flocking to the Netherlands, where the average height is something like 6 ft. 2 and convincing them that being too tall is a bad thing and performing leg-shortening surgeries and muffin abs, will start being hot and reverse lipo will be the rage and Home Depot will open a Do-It-Yourself, cosmetic aisle using common everyday materials (all sustainable and organic) to enhance yourself without ending up either dead or with lumps of globby stuff sticking out of your ass. One can hope.

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