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As Josh noted earlier, state Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48) has proposed closing the state's $2.8 billion budget shortfall, in part, by raising "sin taxes" on things like cigarettes and imposing sales taxes on "luxury" items like bottled water. Also on Hunter's hit list: Elective cosmetic surgery, which would be subject to state sales taxes under the plan.

Here's the problem: 91 percent of people who get cosmetic surgery are women—many of them older women who cite the fear of age discrimination as a primary reason for getting plastic surgery. On average, they make just $55,000 a year. A tax on elective cosmetic surgery, in other words, is a discriminatory tax on women. Not just discriminatory but judgmental—the implication being that women who get plastic surgery are making bad, dumb decisions and deserve to be stigmatized.

It's a classic Catch-22. Women are punished if we fail to conform to an unrealistic ideal—namely, that we be eternally thin, hairless, lithe, busty, tan, and young. Simultaneously, we're shamed for being shallow and vain when we get the breast implants, tummy tucks, labioplasties, facelifts, nose jobs, spray tans, and Botox injections that are required to fulfill that ideal.

I'm not saying women "have to" get plastic surgery, or that I think going under the knife is a wise or even (necessarily) safe decision. Of course, we all have the option of "aging gracefully," just as we're "free" to eschew makeup, high heels, pantyhose, skirts, shaving, long hair, and all the other trappings of femininity.

But as long as the message we get, practically from birth, is "live up to porn-star ideals at every age, or hate yourself," I'm opposed to any proposal that makes us pay, literally, for doing what it takes to live up to that ubiquitous, unrealistic standard.
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