Once upon a time, back in the long ago when I had cable, I caught the very tag end of the broadcast of a BBC mini-series titled The Life and Loves of a She Devil. (Not to be confused with the Hollywood remake She-Devil, which while based on the same novel by Fay Weldon inconsiderately left out several of the more important bits of the story.)
The protagonist puts herself through a huge physical transformation, including some substantial surgery. I saw it well before I was even considering gastric bypass surgery, and truly the story never crossed my mind during that period. But the more things I undertake that are less obviously health-related procedures the more I find myself thinking of this story.
Clearly I'm not taking revenge on a philandering husband, nor am I trying to make myself into the ideal woman as portrayed in romantic fantasy fiction - as anyone who has seen my legs bare can testify. But I do find myself made uncomfortable by the idea of trying to improve my looks rather than strictly my health. It seems there is some puritan in me yet.
As well as a whole raft of contradictory notions like you want to look good, but not too good, especially if something smacks of extreme effort/suffering in pursuit of beauty - which may or may not be beautiful after all. Too much artifice in the service of beauty is wrong, but I know that a good portion of what codes beauty is often very artificial. "Natural" beauty is ok, but if you aren't the recipient of good looks from your genetic background you shouldn't make too much of trying to look better.
This is like pulling boxes from the back of the attic that were packed up long long ago when I was a different person. It's like revisiting somewhere from growing up and having the scent transport you into vivid and overwhelming recollection. It's like looking at something uncomfortable you used to wear or do, and thinking "what was I thinking" even as you feel nostalgia. Shaking out each piece of thought or clothing from its folds, holding it up and looking in the mirror and thinking "no, this simply will not do."
Trying to sort out what I really feel about looks and looking and how I look is turning out to be quite a bit trickier than I'd imagined. It really makes me wonder just how many steamer trunks I have in storage labeled "Does Not Apply - Done Thinking About" that I have to go through and sort out.
Well, everyone needs a hobby.