Women Over Forty Do Not Need Surgery To Stop Their Husbands Cheating

12:26Ciaran McCormick

A self-appointed relationship expert has raised eyebrows by claiming that cosmetic surgery is the only way to stop men cheating on wives over forty. Louise Van Der Velde argued her case to the Mail Online and on television show This Morning. She believes that women should have breast augmentation, liposuction and eyelid surgery to stay attractive. Her relationship therapy centre in London advocates surgery as a significant part of managing relationship difficulties. Winning patriarchal troll of the week, she is easily ridiculed, but her arguments are worth deconstructing.



She claims that women must stay in shape and conform to society's dominant expectations of beauty. Otherwise, their husbands and partners will have an affair with a younger, more attractive woman. This is a classic example of victim-blaming. The woman is held responsible for what is clearly a character and action flaw by the male counterpart. It has unpleasant echoes of the arguments used time and again to blame women for the men that rape them, such as their dress and their choice to consume alcohol, walk on the streets or to exist at all.

It assumes that men are incapable of managing their sexual desires and taking responsibility for their actions. She also explicitly says that 'the men have a right to look elsewhere, they have a right to be sleeping with an attractive woman.'  This means that men are entitled to the bodies of women, which is probably the most disturbing part of her comments. It is the sort of attitude that motivates pick-up artists to harass women and the types of people that frequent the subculture's websites, such as notorious murderer Elliot Rodgers. Male entitlement to female bodies, the concept of uncontrollable male sexuality and victim blaming are three of the hallmarks of our society's rape culture.

Fundamentally, it is bad relationship advice. It essentialises relationships as based on the dominant idea of sexual desire. The media perpetuate images of beauty that yoke partners into unrealistic expectations of their significant others. More effective relationship therapy looks at the underlying tensions and quality of the relationship. Sexual attraction is important but is based on so many factors. Respect, love, quality time spent together are all factors to which physical attraction can be added. The problem is that humans have a natural tendency to deny the aging process and as medical and cosmetic technology has improved, so have the methods of denial. Vanity and egoism adds an extra layer for some people.


This social construct of valuable relationships and beauty is highlighted in the article. Van Der Velde claims that men age more gracefully than women and therefore have less need for surgery. However, this is based on the assumptions of hegemonic standards of beauty, the form that dominates in representations of male and female bodies. For example, if grey hair on men was treated with the same level of disgust that female sagging bodies are, then men would be seen as aging less gracefully. Instead, it is regarded as a mark of maturity and distinction in older men.

More worryingly, it exposes the way that women's behaviour is controlled by men to satisfy their desires. She complains that when she spent time in Spain, the local women aged terribly because they ate cakes and bread.  We live in a fat-phobic society and this certainly intersects with the oppression of women. Women that eat are seen as betraying the male entitlement to an idealised form of their bodies. People mock them and even take degrading photographs in public.

This contrasts with the other people that faced off against her on This Morning. Amanda Holden, who has been notorious for having plastic surgery, rebuffed Van Der Velde's claims. Holden said that after having botox made her feel no different, she is now just satisfied with over-the-counter makeup and that she mainly cares about how she feels about herself. Body image campaigner Natasha Devon captured eloquently the idea that we should value relationships for how much they nurture us, rather than be neurotic about whether we will let our partners down by aging.


This is all probably just an effective PR campaign for Van Der Velde's London practice and public persona. It is the same feminist-baiting that has made many careers of obnoxious people and This Morning is particularly good at welcoming controversial guests like Katie Hopkins. However, it frames a series of very important issues in a clear light and shows how pervasive they can be. Patriarchy is such a powerful force that it can even use women to defend it. Indeed, another ironic part of the Mail Online article is the way that underneath Amanda Holden's arguments against being objectified because of her body choices and physical appearance, the Mail Online runs a feature about her skirt.


Time and time again, the value of women is measured based on judgements about their body or their clothes. 

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