"Plastic," is playwright Frank Strausser's debut novel taking a deep dive into the world of plastic surgery where results make and break careers, marriages and affect family life for generations. As with most great novels, "Plastic," traverses psychological terrain. It transports readers to the manic and maniacal motivations behind the scenes of the plot twists.
Within every chapter you will meet young and middle aged alike desperate with impostor syndrome and performance anxiety. When our characters allow quick fix mindsets to take over, when they lead with a lack of confidence, they suffer more in the end. We all struggle to some extent with being true to ourselves so we are able to sleep soundly at night. The goal is to ultimately hold out for the gains that come with competency through achievement. Ultimately this fills the holes in our hearts and our buckets dear Liza. Hanging in there when the going gets rough requires less anxiety and longer term thinking.
Attitudes that lead to true 'tried and true' mastery is no easy task, but then again there are no short cuts to achieving and maintaining success. "The long short way," is more like it, when one relies on loftier guiding principles to invoke courage, grit and self compassion required for making hard choices rather than caving into fear, insecurities, and poverty consciousness.
"Plastic" the take away is how to know when your personal code of ethics needs a serious course correct. It's difficult to politely say no to temptation and turn away from fairy tale scenarios gracefully. The goal, especially when upon further reflection the hints of further debasement mount, is to exercise, "No thank you." It's rarely the easy path upfront to be in touch with core values until that's the new normal. Even then it's in the effort of trying that becoming comes to the fore. What we stand for is at stake here. Who among us is always so strong?
We meet the 30 something actress who feels she needs a 'lift' to accommodate a nude scene or forgo work forevermore; the post-menopausal wife of a hot elder statesman film director who as a couple would better be served by marriage counseling; the young son distraught that he no longer recognizes himself in his mother's face now that she's had rhinoplasty, aka, a nose job.
The desire to chase after an image of what a person looked like at peak fertility from roughly age 16 to 36 is truly sad and evergreen, but not a new challenge, far from it. By evoking the psychological aspects of what's really going on "Plastic" helps the reader understand the connects and disconnect between the surface versus the interior challenges of the characters. It lays out the issues, some of which I am aware of and some I have never examined.
The mere word plastic conjures up quite a few negative images these days, particularly with lingering debris from single serve usage showing up as the micro version in everything from oceans and raindrops to the bellies of birds and fish. What goes around comes around, the old saying goes. Perhaps we as a society would be better off rethinking ourselves as one dimensional with our hyper attachment to the unsustainable band aids we think plastic surgery will offer too.
Disclaimer: Nothing written here should be construed as advice or therapy. Any behavior attitude or activity is only a suggestion, what I am a fan of, and should not be considered an endorsement of any kind with one and only one exception. If you or someone you know is suicidal, take it seriously and call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately. Do not wait. The toll free number is 1-800-273-8255 that's 1-800-273-TALK.
Tara Fass, LMFT #35078, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, California. She treats adults and couples dealing with a broad range of issues from navigating the legacy of divorce in one's life, to the quarter life crisis and conscious aging. Together we attempt to make meaning [...]