the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: vanity

Plastic Surgery

Sophia and I teach each us other new things. It is one reason for the longevity of our bumpy marriage. I taught Sophia about the appeal of “The Brady Bunch.” Sophia taught me to spot someone with plastic surgery.

Celebrity Plastic Surgery Watch is one of our favorite games at home.

“You see the way her boobs stay up like that, against gravity — fake breasts.”

All My Children, our daily soap, is a cornucopia of plastic surgery (and anorexia). Recently, one of the new characters dropped her dress in front of the hunky lead, and Sophia and I had to look away from the protruding bones in her back. This is sexy?

After countless years of playing Celebrity Plastic Surgery Watch, we have come to a conclusion. Too much surgery can produce a weird result — a woman starts looking like a man, and vice versa. Why is that? Perhaps it is nature’s way of saying that the youthful tautness of the skin looks unnatural after, say 35.

Recently, Jerry Seinfeld’s wife (too lazy to look up her name — hey, I’m a blogger, not a journalist) was on Oprah hawking some cookbook of recipes for junk food for children made with sweetened pureed vegetables. Her idea is to fool her kids into eating their broccoli. Oprah was oohing and aahing over this concept, as if this was the most brilliant idea since Existentialism. Of course it appealed to Oprah, being a brat herself. Just think how f**ked up Seinfeld’s kids are going to be because their mother went out of the way to make them cake created from broccoli. I don’t want to sound like an old fart, but whatever happened to the mother telling her child to “eat your goddamn peas and carrots or no Nintendo for a week, you nitpicking slug?!” In a Jewish household, guilt always worked. I ate my vegetables because children were starving elsewhere.

Anyway, I’ll leave my tirade against Jerry Seinfeld’s wife for another post. Let me stick to the topic at hand.

“She had surgery” said Sophia.

“No, she didn’t.” I answered. “She’s so young. She’s like 28.”

Sophia laughed at my naivete. Why did she laugh so hard? Was it because I thought she was 28 or because I thought that 28 is too young to have plastic surgery?

Later in the program, Oprah’s new Dr. Phil — her new medical boy-toy — Dr. Mehmet Oz, came on to help promote Jerry Seinfeld’s wife’s evil book. Having plugged Crazy Aunt Purl’s book last week, I understand how friends want to help promote each other, but at least Laurie’s book is good, and she doesn’t go around constantly reminding you that she is Jerry Seinfeld’s wife.

The minute Sophia and I saw Dr. Oz, we knew something was different with him. We’ve seen him on Oprah before. His hair looked fuller and neatly coiffed. He was sitting straighter, as if a professional “communicator” gave him lessons on showing authority on TV. The capper was that he looked at little more… feminine. Sophia and I didn’t even have to say anything. We just nodded. He had “work.”

Let me make a disclaimer here. I hope you don’t think that this is going to turn into a mocking piece about the vanity of plastic surgery. Far from it. Maybe it would have been four years ago, even three years ago. But age is creeping in. And I’m sure there are several of you that have had some work done. There is no denying that there is a lot of pressure on everyone to look young and “fresh,” especially for women. It’s difficult to go a day without hearing someone talk about Botox or tummy tucks, even from young women.

Do these procedures really make you feel more self-confident?

I think men are luckier than women in the way they define themselves. While our looks are important, we don’t usually let it be the barometer of who we. One of the things I like about the blogging world is that we don’t base our relationships on looks. A woman who writes sexy IS sexier than the supermodel. Of course, there is always Flickr, where it is the best-looking people who feel most confident taking photos of themselves 365 days a year.

Yesterday, in my “anniversary post,” I included some photos of Sophia and me at Laguna Beach. We had taken several photos together, and choosing which one to post took three times longer than writing the post. It is funny how publishing a photo of yourself can seem more scary than writing personal things online. Sophia didn’t like one of the photos, because the angle made her look tired. In another photo, I hated the way my hair looked. As we critiqued ourselves, we talked about the possibility of plastic surgery someday. After all the times we made fun of it, would we actually do it ourselves? Sophia said she might do something for her laugh lines. I didn’t even know this bothered her. Until she pointed it out, I didn’t even notice it.

I can be vain sometimes, but I don’t fret over my appearance too much. Who has the time? Lately, I feel the urge to improve my appearance. Is it the effects of therapy, or just reading too many of your self-obsessed blogs? I should stop getting my haircuts at Supercuts. Is it time for me to get new glasses? Didn’t one of you recently say that they are too big for my face? Do those whitening stripes really make your teeth whiter — so I can finally stop Photoshopping my teeth?

I feel OK enough with my body, even though there is no logical reason to feel proud of it other than it is mine. I don’t usually walk around shirtless, showing off my clean-shaven chest, like everyone on All My Children, or like every other guy carrying a surfboard on Redondo Beach.  I probably should go to the gym and exercise a lot more. I’ve always had a fantasy of Sophia grabbing my arms and saying, “Ooh, such muscles!,” something she has never said… ONCE. It would sort of be cool to have women checking out my abs and muscular chest, or to overhear two women giggling and saying “Neilochka has such a great ass!” It gets tiring always having to be witty to get a woman’s attention.  I’d like to have her fantasizing about sex with me without any effort on my part, other than taking off my shirt.  Well, I guess the going to the gym 6 days a week would require some effort…

For someone who loves his Penis, I have never understood men’s overwhelming obsession with that area. It’s probably the one part of the anatomy that there is NOTHING you can do to change what you have, despite the spam in your inbox. Sure, we all imagine ourselves walking around the living room with hard-ons the size of the Eiffel Tower, but honestly, what do you need it for? Are you in her home to have sex or to be her cat’s scratching pole? At least with your abs, there are exercises you can do to make them stronger.  You can lift 200 pounds with your penis forever, and it’s not going to get any bigger.

I have a pointy nose, like my father did, but I like it. I really like noses, especially the ones that women are sometimes self-conscious about. Am I the only one who finds bigger noses on women sexy? I like Barbra Streisand’s nose. I like the noses of Jewish, Italian, Greek, and black women. My least favorite nose is the one after mediocre plastic surgery that looks like the nose of a pig.

If I ever get plastic surgery it would be for my chin. I have a weak jaw that has given me a double chin. I didn’t think about my chin much until I started putting photos on my blog and noticed it (thanks a lot! I blame you bloggers). While I can whiten my teeth with Photoshop, I’m not that skilled to get rid of a double chin. Sure, I can trick you by standing in front of my home while Sophia shoots the photo from the roof, pointing down so you don’t see the chin, but I know in my heart that the double chin is still there.

Will I ever really get surgery? Probably not. It’s just not ME. But I’m more understanding of why people do have plastic surgery… and I wouldn’t be surprised if I changed my mind in a year or two, depending on whether or not I am still with Sophia. Being single can make you do a lot of wacky things. I just hope society doesn’t get to the point where it seems ODD to look untouched.  It seems to be getting to the point where it is more acceptable to have that scary, taut Joan Rivers face than to look like a real middle-aged woman.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: I Still Remember the Wedding Dance



Some of you may have noticed that during the day, I changed the photo at my last post from a stock photo to one where I am wearing the purple bathrobe.

This photo is me is un-retouched. No filters. No Photoshop. No flashy photographic gimmicks. I owe it to Sophia for pushing me into presenting myself au naturale. As I discussed two weeks ago, putting a photo of myself online is not an easy thing for me to do. Today, there was a war of words with Sophia over this photo issue, a back-and-forth much bigger than the one over the bathrobe itself.

This morning, Sophia woke me up. She was reading my post on her laptop. She thought the previous photo was a loser and the post would be better if it showed myself wearing the purple bathrobe. She suggested that we take a photo in the living room.

After she took the photo, I went into my office to check it out. I hated the way I looked and started to Photoshop it. I tried to reduce the size of my bed-head hair, and to eliminate my unshaven double chin.

As I worked with the zillions of Photoshop tools, Sophia stopped by.

“What are you doing?” she asked, in that certain voice that I know means trouble.


“You’re Photoshopping yourself again, aren’t you?”


“So, you look great in that photo. Why do you need to do this?”

For some reason, Sophia gets pissed at me whenever I try to fix myself in photos. She is of the belief that it is “unmanly” for me to be “so vain” about my appearance.

“What about when I take your photo?” I asked, ready to debate. “You’re always so picky!”

“That’s different. I’m a woman.”

“You don’t complain when I dress up.”

“That’s because you look sexy when you dress up. But it’s not sexy to have a man Photoshopping his own chin.”

“Why not?!”

“You’re a MAN. This is how a man looks. You’re not supposed to look all air-brushed. It’s so gay.”

“That’s an insult to gays.”

“OK, my apologies to gays.”

“Can I go back to my Photoshop please?”

I returned to Photoshopping my photo.

“Are you trying to photoshop your double chin?”


“Now it makes you look like you have goiters.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Let me try to use the blend tool.”

“Now you look like you have a tracheotomy. Why don’t you just photoshop in an oxygen mask?”

“Maybe I’ll take my whole head off and lower it over my chin.”

“Then you’ll look like a Hobbit. Is it really worth it? Don’t be so insecure, Neilochka. You look cute. Women will see the real you and will still go “ooh” and “ahh.” Just the way you like, I promise.”

“Are you sure you just don’t want me to look bad?”

“Why would I want that?”

“So, if we split up, I won’t date some hot blogger before you date someone else?”

“We have split up. Go date someone. Be my guest. You’re the one who doesn’t want to leave my house!”

“C’mon, Neil, listen to her – publish it. ” yelled my Penis. “Be confident.”

“You, too, Penis? I asked.  “But aren’t you worried that no woman wants to f**k a man with a double chin.”

“No,” my Penis responded.  “No woman wants to f**k a man who Photoshops his chin.  It’s not the size of anything you have, but how many times you can make her yell, *&@&% me again, you $@*&%$!”

“Your Penis is right.  Be a man,” said Sophia, nodding in agreement with my Penis. “This is what you look like, chin and all.  Accept it and be happy with it.”

Damn, Sophia was right.

So, Mazel tov to me. TODAY, I became a man. I published the photo — totally un-retouched.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: I Am So Over Boobs

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