Many of us have at least one thing we’ve thought about changing about our face or body. For me, it’s my nose. I’ll always remember a classmate in 7th grade, Pamela, spontaneously and loudly volunteering in the middle of the Deer Park Public Library that my nose looked like someone hurled a fistful of wet putty at my face and it just stuck there and dried like that.
So, it’s probably no surprise that over the years I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my nose: On some days, I look in the mirror and am perfectly fine with it. It looks like my Polish grandmother’s nose. I like that since it reminds me of the lunches she used to make me in her spotless, sunlit kitchen on Long Island. But, other days I just see that gob of hurled putty.
Maybe on some days, you’ve also toyed with getting a nip or tuck, perhaps to your eyes, chin, ears, lips or breasts—then on other days firmly decided you look just fine the way you are.
While a wide variety of factors can influence how you perceive your appearance–for instance, if you’ve just had a romantic break-up, you’re worried about how you measure up to competitors in your field of work or someone spontaneously offers up a harsh critique about how you look–a new study in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (full study) reveals that one factor that may play a role in your desire for cosmetic surgery is where you are in your menstrual cycle.
In the study, researchers gauged feelings of acceptance of plastic surgery in 121 women with regular, natural cycles (no hormone birth control) who were either in their Week 2 (the days leading up and including ovulation) or in the second half of their cycle (the days after ovulation leading up to menstruation). They also measured the women’s feelings of self-worth on these cycle days.
What they found: The women were slightly more accepting of plastic surgery procedures for themselves and those in other women during the second half of their cycle and slightly less accepting of them during their Week 2.
The study authors theorize that you may feel less accepting of surgical enhancements during your Week 2 because you tend to perceive yourself as more attractive in the days around ovulation, making them unnecessary. And you may be less accepting of surgical enhancements in other women on these fertile days of your cycle because you perceive them as a “dishonest” way to compete with you in attracting a mate.
Whatever the reason behind the cycle-related fluctuation in how you feel about cosmetic procedures, the researchers are keen to point out that they don’t believe their study means women are more likely to impulsively undergo cosmetic surgery at certain points in their cycle. Considering the financial cost and pain involved in most surgical enhancements, it’s likely that most women think about doing it for awhile before finally committing.
Instead, they emphasize that our attitudes toward cosmetic procedures may simply naturally ﬂuctuate based on our menstrual cycle phase. And this can play a part in how we view ourselves and other women’s appearances.
The takeaway here: If you’re on the fence about a making permanent or semi-permanent change to your appearance, keep a journal about how you feel about the feature you want to alter throughout at least one entire monthly cycle before you call for an appointment. You may realize there are more days of the month when you’re perfectly happy with how you look–and, perhaps, even prefer it–than there are days when you want a change. And that can help you make up your mind.
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[Photo: Arturo de Albornoz]