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An Interview With Jameison Dale

By Lois W. Stern

Those of you who have read my earlier Eye on Beauty columns know that I think cosmetic surgery can be a wonderful gift for a woman to give herself – BUT only if she does it in moderation, for the right reasons with the right surgeon. In her forthcoming book, Chasing Beauty, (, Jameison Dale explores her experiences with cosmetic surgery gone bad, done for the wrong reasons with the wrong doctors. Here is our interview.

LWS: Jameison, you made so many wrong choices while selecting your surgeons. Could you talk about some of the missteps you made?

JD: I was naïve. My surgical decisions were always emotional, made with the gravity that I would give to choosing a new shampoo. I always believed that the 'best case scenario' would appear on my altered face. Instead, with almost each of my fifteen cosmetic procedures the opposite happened: a 'worst case' effect.
In short, I was immature and by default, impulsive. I wanted—-fifteen different times—-to believe in the magic implied in cosmetic surgical transformation. I am paraphrasing, but F. Scott Fitzgerald has written that repeating the same action but expecting different results is the definition of insanity. I agree.  

LWS: What words of advice could you give to others about selecting a plastic surgeon so that perhaps they can benefit from your mistakes?  

JD: Research, research, research! After determining that one's choice of surgeon is board certified in Plastic Surgery (, go to the patients. Spend time on message boards and forums. Read the first-person accounts of the procedure of one's choice. Weigh the risks against the positives. Expect the worst and go to the consultation prepared to discuss the probability of such. Listen to your gut.
Go for less-invasive options—-syringe or laser procedures—-before anything using a scalpel. If one desires cheek implants, for instance, test-drive the semi-same effect with injectibles such as Radiesse or Restylane. Finally, one should ask herself what she expects the surgery to do for her life; what will she get out of it?; and if the risk of 'bad surgery' is worth it.  

LWS: Do you think some of those less invasive procedures would have accomplished your beauty goals?

JD: Writing this part inspires my greatest sense of regret. All that I had really ever 'needed' was to replace volume in my cheeks and smooth my under-eyes. This could have been accomplished with a few hundred dollars, with no downtime and no marital strain, instead of with a decade's worth of deceit, major debt and facial disfigurement.  

LWS: Is that why you wrote Chasing Beauty? Are you hoping you can save others from some of the anguish you experienced?  

JD: My initial impetus for writing Chasing Beauty was indeed to warn women against the sense of simplicity with which the media--- the cosmetic surgical industry mouthpiece—seduces women. From there, my own personal background filled the narrow spaces in-between procedures. I wanted to examine why a girl or woman such as myself would go to such lengths as drastic, repeated cosmetic surgery to alter her appearance. My story hopefully will serve as insight into the vulnerability inherent in low female self worth, leaving one open to self-injury, and sometimes with more than a scalpel.  

LWS: In your first chapter, I remember you saying: "I want good looks for their passive quality." Can you explain what you mean by that?  

JD: Possessing beauty doesn't require any effort; easy life just flows toward it. I wanted to be idolized and sheltered for nothing more than falling the right way out of my mother, like true beauties are, even if I had to fake it by buying it.  

LWS: It sounds to me like you had next to zero self-esteem and were trying to use surgery as a means to discover yourself.  Can you tell me a little about your childhood? Do you think your life as a child impacted you in your path toward searching for beauty at any cost? If so, how?

JD: My parents were more into self-gratification than in nurturing their children, especially their pre-pubescent daughter. Neglected describes the condition that became the seed of my appearance obsession. While growing up it was assumed that my brothers and I were to find our own ways though life. Though I might have been passive, I was a studious but shy girl who didn't catch the attention of any teachers who might have plucked me up and pointed me toward a college path. Nobody guided me toward a deeper goal than physical beauty; it never occurred to my parents to parent and to save their daughter from her voluptuous body by suggesting that she had a mind. They took the easy way out and did nothing.  

In the meantime, I learned.  

I learned that boys liked me. I went with it, and it hurt, because the kind of boys that liked me never knew me...just as my parents didn't.  

I learned that men seem to fall in love with faces and in lust with bodies.
An object of lust since puberty, I wanted love, especially from my aging but still female-ogling father. My abusive, selfish but beautiful mother had never loved me. My two brothers and I left her when I was eleven years old, validating my belief: they knew it, too.  

LWS:  I gather you had a very beautiful body. Did you find that an asset or an obstacle?

JD: Sexy made for poor self-worth. I had never done anything to acquire my 36D-bra cup or narrow waist and didn't much understand the attention that I received for them. To me a good female body was generic---"T and A" exist everywhere. The attention acted like love in the beginning but it felt like hate when it was satiated with its stolen from me petting, and later, sex. It was always bad sex, and not in a good way. It never mattered that I wouldn't know how to love anyone back.  

LWS: You spent a number of years as a stripper. What made you select that line of work? Was it satisfying for you? If so, how?

JD: I both loved and hated stripping. Stripping validated the sense that my body had commodifying power over men. I fantasized that I controlled them with my body, that I stole their dollars on the stage.
Though the primary cause of my low self-esteem from the start, I was used to being an object; finally I could make good money from it. I had found honesty, a place in which I belonged. I was a least in my mind, though I never had sex with any of those men. I let myself see the men as only money and not as people. Sleeping with them would have blurred the distinction for at least me (though it never did to the boys to whom I had always freely given my body). Plus, I could then finally afford to eat. Living alone with no resources, familial or social support makes a girl learn to love canned beans.  

LWS: You had many different surgeries. It almost sounds that you went from bad to worse. Tell us about the worst experiences you had.  

JD: The "worst" functions as the climax of my book, when I finally understood that my own neurosis had taken over me---that I was taken over by cosmetic surgery.
I realized at that point—-and was told in as many words by one elite but sadistic-minded cosmetic surgeon—that I looked like a surgical freak.
After that, I felt worse than ugly. I felt weird, damaged. Disfigured. This belief almost literally killed me, a girl who entered into this surgical beauty chase believing that only female facial perfection would save her. I'd wished to be dead, and would likely have carried it out if not for the good timing involved in circumstances that distracted me away from my final, ultimate slice.  

LWS: Eventually, you did find a qualified surgeon. How did you find him? How was he different from the other surgeons you had used?

JD:* My last surgery was from a kind, talented and honest surgeon, Dr. Michael Yaremchuk, whom I write about in my book. He in turn wrote my foreword. We both warn readers to use caution lest they end up like I was when I came to his office.
My tardy good sense led me Dr. Yaremchuk. In desperation and as an alternate to suicide, I searched for somebody who could finally perform the sort of surgical 'hocus-pocus' for which I had searched into the beginning but didn't find. Dr. Yaremchuk worked in the best hospital and taught at one of the best schools in the country. A specialty of his was in surgical repair. I saw his televised work on another unfortunate surgical victim who, under his hands, turned into a truly beautiful woman. I cried when I watched it. I knew her pain and now I could believe in a release from Hell.  

LWS: What did he do for you and how did his surgery effect you, both physically and emotionally?

JD: Though Dr. Yaremchuk was not able to effect the same result on my face due to too much of me having already been cut away, leaving him with limited material, he undid much of what had surgically been poorly done to me. He let me feel normal again when walking down the street. I will never again look like I once did either before or during the surgeries, but who I am now is just fine.  

LWS: Do you think anything good came out of all the heartache? Has your self-esteem improved?

JD: My ability to respect my true self has improved. Having felt handicapped by my worst appearance forced me to find something good about myself onto which to grasp for survival, once I had decided to live.
I'd learned for the first time to appreciate the simplicity of life—-the normalcy of it. Part of my problem was that I had thrived thrived on drama because drama was for special, glamorous people. It took becoming ugly to be still; to look and listen inward and to ask, Who am I?
It's usual, something that once had scared the bejeezus out of me. To be plain had been to be nobody. I now realize that just To Be, without feeling like a monster, is a gift.
I am still looking and listening, but so far I have enjoyed my getting to know my mind and even my heart.  

LWS: Aside from your writing, do you do any other work?

JD: I'm very fortunate to run a thriving in-home wellness business. My professional philosophy is toward improving other's perspectives of their bodies while talking them down from the drive for physical perfection. I now coach for happiness through health and inner peace, knowing that it's enough. It's the only thing in life that endures.  

LWS: Jameison, I understand that your husband stood by you throughout all of those surgeries and that you are still together today. What is the glue that has kept your marriage intact?

JD: JD: The glue is simply that, fortunately for me, my husband is a kind and patient (and simple) man. Though my desperation for beauty began as a child, I ironically didn't begin to satisfy it until I was married. I had found myself a 'nice guy,' one who had looked me in the eye as I waited on him at the nightclub at which we'd met. He didn't look at my breasts when he said please and thank you. He smiled. He had a day job. He seemed safe.
I married him to keep this nice guy on hold until I could trap him with my cosmetic surgical beauty. It has taken ten years for me to realize that he's still here. He still looks me in the eye. He still smiles, mostly when I do. I am beginning to develop what he sees. I am beginning to develop a self. I garden. I have a day job. I walk my dog and jog. I read. I try to ignore the pretty parts of the media. I now focus on others' peace and happiness as well as on my own.

LWS: Thank you for sharing from the heart. You've traveled such a difficult road, but gained in wisdom because of it. I wish you much future success and most of all, peace.

Lois W. Stern is the author of Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery

Read Fab40’s great review! E280%93-Things-You-ll-Never-Learn-From-Your-Plastic-Surgeon/

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