If I offered you a gift — and you must accept the gift and you must use the gift only on yourself — which one of these two things would you choose: Getting plastic surgery; or receiving a killer new computer setup?
Here are the details:

1. Your plastic surgery would suck out all your fat without any threat
to life or limb. Your face and body will look 20 years younger. There
will be no complications and you will be fully recovered in 48 hours.
All asymmetry affecting your face and body will be corrected. You will
look 100% better than you do now and you will feel more beautiful than
you ever have in your lifetime.

2. You will have a superfast desktop AND notebook computer of your
choosing that will be upgraded every six months for the next two years.
You also have an HD video camera, scanner and the best printer money
can buy.

You can start by biting off a $2,400.00 30-inch Apple Cinema
Display if you wish and it will only get better from there. You will
have all major brand software provided as part of this package — and
the software will always upgraded for you over the term of this gift.

Off-site server storage for backing up your most precious data will
also be provided for the rest of your life.

Which gift do you want and why did you make that choice?


  1. Given the art project I am presently working on, it is an easy choice: the computers.
    Even if I weren’t doing the project it would have to be the computers for me because if I looked 20 years younger I would look 9 and I think that’s a bit too young, personally. 🙂
    In all seriousness I think that it’s a bit shallow and unneeded to get a lot of cosmetic work done unless you’re going to spend a lot of time in the public eye and even then most of the time it’s unnecessary.

  2. Hi Gordon!
    What art project are you working on and are you using a Mac to do your art thang?
    Some might argue that getting plastic surgery might increase their income for a longer amount of time than the computer deal…

  3. I am working on making a serious dramatic serial that would be watchable on the web about three or so times per week. Some might think to call it a soap opera but I think the term is outdated now and I am not seeking sponsorship from Ivory in any case (or tide for that matter.) I have a filming schedule that I hope will revolutionize the way that ‘television’ is made which involves filming a week or two’s episodes on one long jam packed shooting day. This will make it a lot easier for most of the actors whom I imagine will have regular jobs during the week.
    I’m actively looking for a good yet not expensive G4 desktop that my financier will put up the money for as soon as I can show him all of the details of how it would eventually bring in income etc.
    I think if I got plastic surgery I would feel like a Cyberman.

  4. Good luck with your project, Gordon!
    Wouldn’t it be fun if your non-Soap Opera Soap Opera aged you 30 years in a week and you wished you’d picked the plastic surgery offer instead?

  5. I’m going the opposite way: I’ll take the plastic surgery.
    Not that I’m vain, but it would be nice to get some things taken care of that exercise and diet either will take a long time to fix or that will always be a problem area.
    The computer deal is tempting, but it will be out of date in 2 years.
    The plastic surgery’s effects could last a lifetime as our society often rewards the good looking at the expense of those less fortunates ones who exhibit body asymmetry.
    From Forbes:

    Two university researchers say the penalty for plainness is 5% to 10% lower pay in all occupations, or slightly larger than the premium for good looks.
    Daniel S. Hamermesh, an economist at the University of Texas, Austin, and Jeff Biddle, an economist at Michigan State University, held demographic and job types constant and concluded that looks are a key element in earning power.
    “Better-looking people sort into occupations where beauty is likely to be more productive,” the researchers conclude. “But the impact of individuals’ looks on their earnings is mostly independent of occupation.”

    The payoff for the plastic surgery over a career would be more than the value of the computer.

  6. Despite the “common sense” thought about this matter, the plastic surgery could help men more than women, according to research.
    More from Forbes:

    The researchers controlled for variables such as experience and education. Surprisingly, looks are more important for men than women.
    In the mid-1990s when the study was completed, the ugly penalty for men holding full-time jobs totaled about $2,600 in reduced pay per year, and the pretty-boy premium came to about $1,400. For women, the penalty for bad looks was $2,000, and the premium for good looks was $1,100 per year.

  7. Wow, Chris!
    Your answer surprises me but it makes sense in your analysis.
    “Beautiful People” do make more money and live longer than their ordinary and uglier brethren.
    Plastic surgery does give one a way to correct “mistakes of nature” that are not their own!

  8. Chris!
    Ah! Men benefit more than women from plastic surgery! Now that’s surprising as well!
    I wonder if — as more and more men go under the knife to join a narrow and universal ideal of beauty if that gender advantage will even out a bit?
    It’s interesting how there is a common aesthetic in plastic surgery: A sort of thinned nose, a cut jawline, strong chin, awake eyes, no forehead furrows.
    If everyone had the same surgery everyone would start to look the the MD’s ideal of what is beautiful and not what is organically aesthetically attractive.
    Los Angeles, because of its need for beauty and power and “fitting in” is beginning to look like that — you see the same “faces” everywhere… beautiful, expressionless people who all look like they’re intermarried and sculpted from the same clay.

  9. Being too beautiful can be a curse, as well as a blessing.
    Overly beautiful people have a hard time being taken seriously — probably because of jealousy.
    For whatever reason, if a beautiful person overshadows the other people in a work place or some field, often cliques will form to “oppose” the beautiful, even if the reasons are irrational or unrelated to work performance.
    It happens with both women and men, depending on the circumstances and the job. Handsome men might be seen as being weak. Beautiful women are often perceived as not being smart.
    Often, the extraordinarily beautiful have to work harder to show that they aren’t just “empty suits” or “pretty faces.”

  10. Hi Chris —
    I find the workplace cabals against the beautiful are usually “justified” in that the beautiful are doing better, are smarter and have a better handle on things. The way to bring them down is to pick on their perceived beauty as an unfair advantage.

  11. I find it interesting that there is a “look” in certain areas of the country — such as Los Angeles — that is sculped by surgeon’s hands.
    The same can be said about other places — there is often a certain look that is found in the countryside, away from the influences of the urban areas.
    People, no matter where they are, tend to follow their local social leaders’ examples and cues.

  12. I’d take the computer. Fixing the external appearance won’t necessarily make me feel any more beautiful nor will it guarantee anything more that a greater number of people staring at me. Also, many of the people with presence, while possibly attractive in their own right, would not particularly attractive by our over-hyped Hollywood standards (think of some of the more influential leaders throughout history). And ten twenty years down the line I may have to repeat the surgical process. I would also like to recognize the person in the mirror.

  13. You’re right, Chris! When cultural migration ends you get organic “pockets of sameness” in regions in our country. I can always pick out a round, Nebraska farmer face and body no matter where they are living. I know just by the way their body sits in a chair that they were raised into farm life.
    There is a difference in the “East Coast” style vs. the “West Coast” style of plastic surgery. West is about perfection at any cost while East is more about refinement of features so no one knows if you had surgery or not.
    West you look more perfectly beautiful; East you look more naturally beautiful. Never get “beauty” plastic surgery outside of New York or California. Practice makes the perfect surgeon!

  14. Your analysis is interesting, A S! So you think a computer will bring you greater longevity and beauty than having your face and body changed?

  15. The computer won’t last that long either since the upgrades stop after 2 years. But with a computer a person can alter their online appearance indefinitely to the cyber world if they so chose.
    I do not wish to be altered merely to look like someone else’s ideal particularly when that idea may alter with time and fashion. If you look at the magazines today you may find many people on the covers to look incredibly homogenous. Yet one week the press may say someone is too fat and a month later they are far too thin.
    Elective surgery is not something I would normally choose. Were I to suffer a horrific accident, I may reconsider and choose to have the plastic surgery simply in an attempt to look the way I do now, not to suck out fat or alter my person to be more symmetrical. I believe my physical appearance to be a part of my identity a part of my parents’ combined genetic code. To alter the appearance via chin implant, rhinoplasty, bone reconstruction or the like would significantly disfigure my concept of self.
    It is not to say that others who choose cosmetic surgery loose a part of their identity as they may not identify themselves with their original look. I however do.
    I must mention, however, that I have had cosmetic dentistry applied in the form of orthodontia for correcting an overbite— clearly not my choice. However, I was able to inform them not to remove any of my teeth. Once they removed the braces, I noticed that none of my teeth were aligned which made it nearly impossible to chew. Gladly after refusing to wear my retainers my teeth have been restore to their natural position.

  16. I would go for the computer, in any given day.
    I think with the help of a “killer computer” I will be able to make more use of my brain, learn something and grow. There will be a scope to exploring, experimenting.
    On the other hand, I don’t think a great “look” either by inheritance or by cosmetic surgery would make me content enough to live with. Until and unless I am in show biz (which I ever won’t be) “look” really doesn’t matter to me.
    The allegation of ‘beautiful people not being taken seriously’ is somewhat true, partly because of their own fault.
    I have seen some grammatically beautiful people being so absorbed in their so called beauty that most of the time they forget the reason of their outer beauty is either an inheritance or a cosmetic surgery, they are flaunting something without really earning it!

  17. An interesting proposition!
    Both damning to certain extents:
    Choose the plastic surgery and people may not take you serious, as they may assume that the operation stems from lack of, or depreciating, confidence. Flip the coin and you may find yourself the bearer of jealousness. It’s hard to imagine any good that could come from “false presentation” of ones self.
    On the other hand, choosing the computers leads you down the path of todays social disconnection to a place where only 1’s and 0’s exist. A place where people have lost the physical properties of their relationships. In adition, This too has the possibility to lead you into being the recipient of jealousy. Flip the coin here and- wow, you have a great setup for work and/or entertainment if your into computers.
    I guess if I “must” decide I would have to accept the computer system. I strongly believe cosmetic surgery, not stemming from medical necesity, is a sign of lack of confidence and a desire to be what your not. That said, I’d love to have a bangin system that I could setup all my music and watch dvd’s with friends and still have alone time with my 1 love.

  18. I forgot to add this last line.
    Beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder. make a change and you may find warmer receptions in certain circles, but in return, remove you from other(s).
    I believe that to be the “life balance.” If You make a change, there are always that which you must give up in exchange.

  19. A S!
    Okay! I’m with you! Gordon convinced me to get the computer but then Chris’ first message confused me and I felt he was righter.
    I wonder if choosing surgery suggests you think you’re not-beautiful?
    I wonder if choosing the computer means you are not-wealthy?

  20. Welcome to the blog, CrypticKeeper!
    Your thoughts are quite interesting. The idea of beauty is extremely personal but we also have a shared societal ideal of what is beautiful that spans across cultures and all regions of the world.

  21. David,
    I agree people as a society share ideals of beauty and other things. But I wonder how much of that is pear pressure, or implanted into our minds from birth till now.
    If you ask 100 people standing in the city (in a group)if the sunset is beautiful, they will naturally all stop and look for the sunset. And.. I’d put money on the fact that pear pressure influences decisions that some would speak to ensure their status with the others isn’t jeapordised.
    If you ask a single person standing in the city if the sunset is beatiful, your likely to get a more open an honest response.
    You never know when societies ideals are going to change too. Tomorow plastic surgery could be seen as a total and utter taboo that only those who have emergent medical care should not even undertake.
    Look at Joan Rivers.. She looks good, but that’s just wrong and totally un-natural. Creapy.. Bleh!!

  22. A good plastic surgeon performing a full body extreme make-over would likely cost significantly more than a great computer with all accessories upgraded every six months for the next two years so I don’t think that choosing the computer would make one seem to lack wealth. Also, in a global perspective, having enough to eat each day already makes me wealthy.

  23. A S —
    Right now a fully spec’d-out Apple G5 system with a 30″ Cinema display would run you around $12,000 just for that set up alone. Getting a new one every six months along with all the other hardware… and the better immediate “buck for service” is with the hardware offer than the surgery offer.

  24. I have a computer, but man, I am overweight and could use some plastic surgery with quick recovery. I would get a lot more self-esteem for the first gift than for the second. There isn’t really anything that I do on the computer that requires a supercomputer, so risk-free surgery it is.

  25. You’re kidding, right? Because the obvious answer will *always* be the computer *laughs*. Who gives a damn what I look like as long as I can play any game that walks by *grins*.

  26. MC!
    Welcome to the blog!
    I like your reasoning behind your surgery and you made a fine choice! Who can argue with beauty when it is linked to better health?

  27. I suppose that depends on how much work one needs. I still maintain that the surgery could cost significantly more more.
    Average costs of plastic surgery:
    Other procedures not shown are one where they break almost every bone in your body and reset it with a brace so that you can be taller can run six-figures in and of itself.

  28. Tough one ……….. on my bad days I would opt for option one . By bad days I mean the ones where my self image is low and my bodies imbalances get me down. Three years ago I had life saving surgery that entailed the removal of a large section of my lower bowel and a colosotmy. This thankfully was corrected and my plumbing re-installed a year later. It has however left me with a scar from breast bone to pelvis which effectively cuts me in two. It has also left me with one side of my belly larger than the other ( by at least one dress size if not two) , which means of course it is always noticable to me (if not others) and does cause some issues! Most of the time this does not worry me but there are times when it does. It would of course give me the chance to get rid of a lot of other excess baggage as well and the 48 hour recovery period would also save me from my hatred of hospitals – oh and can I fix my teeth at the same time?
    On my good days I would go for option two …….. so long as BT ( our broadband service provider ) gave me the 8 meg it should – along with some instruction as how to use photoshop as well !

  29. Nicola!
    Yes, we’ll do your teeth as part of the deal and A S will happily break you in two if you would like to be a few inches taller.
    Your surgery sounds pretty rough! Was it the surgeon’s intent to leave you “lopsided?” If not, why weren’t you made whole for free?

  30. Surgery was pretty rough – but saved my life ………
    Corrective surgery would be considered *cosmetic* – although I might get it on the NHS if I pushed it or went into a depressive state or it began to have more than a *trifling* effect on my quality of life. It would involve another serious bout of surgery , 7/10 days in hospital …….. which is why the 48 hour option was very tempting !

  31. Hi Nicola!
    I’m sorry you have to live with the uneven results of your surgery — but if the surgery saved your life then I understand to argue with its aftereffects is trifling.

  32. Do I sound jealous? 😉
    I really don’t care about the outer package as long as I am healthy. Cosmetic surgery to beautify the wrapping? Not me. I will prefer to pay more attention to the inner product-any day! 😀

  33. So, Katha, how would you react if someone said to you, “Oh, my your new computer setup is so beautiful!”
    Would you be insulted or pleased?

  34. You are tough!!! 😀
    Ok, my answer will either be -“Thanks for the compliment!(out of politeness…) It works wonder! (that’s what I am concerned about!)”
    Or, “It looks stunning, but actually is a junk…
    I will neither be insulted, nor pleased – I will state the fact backed by logic! 😀

  35. I didn’t know that “someone” was you!!!
    This is not fair!!!
    Anyway, if it was you then probably I would have asked you about all possible ways to fix it – I wanted that gift to work!

  36. Ok, sorry for making you cry, really! I am also crying! 🙁
    I noticed the gift was coming from you, I didn’t realize you could be the one to question it too!
    One thing I am learning – logic doesn’t help always…

  37. Even if the gift wasn’t from me, Katha, I would still be questioning you!
    I just wrote about you in a new published post. Congrats!

  38. Come over here, Dave.
    I understand how a statement like Katha’s can make you cry. So I offer up to you a *cyber-hug* with that new system you gave me.

  39. I’ll take the computers anytime. Didn’t have to think about this at all. Damn I’m such a geek.

  40. Hi Alan —
    It’s a pleasure to meet you and I thank you for the comment!
    I, too, am always tempted by the latest piece of technology! I feel more beautiful sitting in front of a new computer!

  41. Some argue that some anti-depressant usage is done for “cosmetic psychopharmacological” reasons.
    See Think Magazine:

    A particular set of amino acids, neurotransmitters (NT), which facilitate the electrical impulses from cell to cell, were isolated; one particular NT, Serotonin, seemed to be particularly important and associated with fluctuations in mood.
    Eli Lilly secured patents and marketed its powerful Serotonin inducing drug, Prozac, in 1987, leading the way for related drugs (blanketly named “anti-depressants”) to find mainstream acceptance in the psychiatric community. Presently, 40,000,000 U.S. citizens are being prescribed some form of an anti-depressant, for everything from Bulimia to “winter blues.”
    This staggering number, amounting to roughly a sixth of the adult population (and increasingly offered to overweight people and ‘problem’ children) is the apotheosis of an information age rationality, in many cases voluntarily embarking on a “cosmetic psychopharmacological” journey where cure may be a code for brain enhancement and Huxleyesque social control. I hesitate to add that this number is more than the amount of votes President Clinton obtained in 1992.

    If you could exchange the plastic surgery for a mood enhancing drug with few or no side-effects that would increase your outlook on life, social skills, and work productivity, would you do it, even if you weren’t necessarily depressed?

  42. That’s a wild quote, Chris!
    You ask a lot of great questions. I wonder if people who would want surgery would prefer to do it once than to live a lifetime on medication to get the same effect?

  43. I remember reading a portion of the book “Listening to Prozac” that described the transformation of a woman from a needy person who was involved in an affair with a married man to a self-confident woman who was gathering friends and excelling in her career.
    Some of the comments about self-esteem and self-image made me think about the medications can be prescribed that can improve both of those outlooks.
    This is an interesting thought to ponder:
    Is it better to improve the exterior and receive external affirmations of ones self worth from admirers, or receive self-affirmations from chemical reactions that lessen negative thought processes and produce the same kinds of feelings?

  44. I am happy to see you happy David…no more crying… 😀

  45. Wow, Chris! What a question!
    Too bad I am in office – will be back in the evening – 🙁

  46. Chris asked
    “Is it better to improve the exterior and receive external affirmations of ones self worth from admirers, or receive self-affirmations from chemical reactions that lessen negative thought processes and produce the same kinds of feelings?”
    I would argue it is better to bring a child up in a heathy balanced environment so that they didnt have self esteem issues in the first place.
    [Comment edited by David W. Boles]

  47. Hi Nicola!
    I had to edit your comment to remove the poem. We don’t have the right to republish that Copyrighted work here.
    I like your response to Chris!

  48. I’m really late answering this question but I wanted to add a thought or two. Either of these gifts would be better than a kick in the teeth I suppose. My current little laptop has never failed to meet my needs (even though it’s low-end). The surgery might be more appealing if it wasn’t all about fat-sucking and correcting asymmetry. I don’t think being more attractive makes people consider you less seriously, that comes down to the way you behave. I also don’t see how a fancy computer can help you learn more than any computer that connects to the internet, that’s why we have distributed computing. Either way, the less you have the better you learn to make do with what you’ve got.

  49. As far as my knowledge goes “Prozac” is considered to be some kind of a revolutionary innovation in “clinical depression”. And clinical depression is far more serious than a mere self esteem problem related with look.
    Sometimes low self-esteem is connected with depression but it is yet to be discovered which one is the cause and which one is the effect.
    Medication has a holistic approach to solve any deep seated self esteem related problem – depends on the diagnosis.

  50. What a great question indeed, Chris!
    As is most things in the human world, low self-worth or self esteem are derivatives, a product if you will, of an event or series of events that brought us to our current emotional positions.
    We need not look further than whom or what is right next to us at any given moment and we come to realize all the negative influences in our surroundings. Whether we are at Work, Home, In the Car or other transportation; we are surrounded by negative situations and people who are unhappy and who unintentionally “infect” their unhappiness on to us.
    Additionally, the psyche needs rejuvenation just like our physical self. I’m sure each of you can identify at least one particular moment in your life when you felt both mentally AND physically drained. Your Psyche needs to be fully “charged” in order for your body to heal and recover. If your psyche is damaged from rejection, unhappiness or whatever your physical state too slowly degenerates.
    It is at this point that we start questioning ourselves and begin looking to cast blame. Let’s face it; humans are a society of blame and categorizing. We are as well, a society that likes to treat the symptom, not the disease. Treating the disease is not monetarily rewarding and if we’re not rich, then we start questioning ourselves. What a vicious circle…

  51. David Boles wrote:
    “Funny! Gaming over beauty! What a wild combo!
    Are you 13-years-old?”
    *laughs* I just saw this reply. Don’t know why I missed it.
    I’ll have you know that I’m a ripe old 44! I just really like gaming. As a matter of fact, that’s how I met my husband…he doesn’t care what I look like either, as long as the heal lands on his enchanter in a timely manner *grins*.

Comments are closed.