Normal: A Plastic Surgeon’s Letter To His Daughters

Trish

Hello, listeners. It’s Trishy here from the Transforming Bodies podcast and today, I am joined by Specialist Plastic Surgeon, Dr Pouria Moradi, who’s based in Sydney and we’re gonna have a talk about a new book that he’s actually written, which is called Normal, but we’ll find out more from Dr Moradi. So welcome and thank you so much for joining us today, Dr. Moradi.

Dr Moradi

Thank you, Trish. Thanks for having me. It’s good to connect with you after all these years. Well, we’ve known each other for at least ten years now.

Trish 

Yeah. I can remember coming into your clinic and probably doing my first-ever video.

Dr Moradi

I am happy you know, I remember that.

Trish 

In your clinic. I know. So funny. Anyway, well, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today. I’ve actually ordered my book. I’m so excited to read this book. But tell us like, where did this head? First of all, what’s it called?

Dr Moradi

Okay. Well, the book’s called Normal, a Plastic Surgeon’s Letter to his daughters about body image and so that’s what it’s called why it happened was I have three daughters: Rosie, Evie, and Tessa, 11, 9, and 7 to year 5, 4, and 2. And about three years ago, when Rosie, the oldest was in year two, at that high school, they have, like, an end about November every year the 2, which ironically is my younger daughter, Tessa was in year 2. She’s about to do what Rosie did three years ago. They have, like, a little swim event and every day the girls or the school go to the local swimming tour and every day Rosie would turn up with a different swim outfit. In swimwear, not once was she body conscious, did care at all about what she looked like and I kind of had, you know, an existential crisis where I was like, well, I’m a father of three daughters, but I’m a plastic surgeon who makes money out of women’s insecurities, women’s body image and where’s my role in all this? And how long will she remain in this innocent little girl? So then that was November 2019, and I thought about Christmas went over to the UK to visit my wife’s family, and talked to people, and then January 2020, Australia time Kobe Bryant passed, that horrific helicopter accident. He’s in front of the drawers. Mhmm. He had four daughters in the United States. I was just trying to read these biographies and get into his career because I missed most of his career.
So I’m more of a Michael Jordan fan and it got me thinking about whether you know he talks to my Mamba mentality. He was, you know, had four daughters himself. So that got me thinking about maybe I do need to write this book and then this was 2020 and a few months later we went into lockdowns for COVID. So I was like, okay, I think the world is speaking to me, I need to write this book and it’s had different versions and different ideas and I finished it properly towards the end of last year and it’s taken me a while to find someone to publish it and get the ball rolling. So here we are.

Trish 

Fantastic. Fantastic. So the inspiration was, of course, your daughters?

Dr Moradi

Correct.

Trish 

And you because it is being I don’t even know how you come with three daughters because I had two and that was enough and you had three daughters. Would you just have the only guy in the family?

Dr Moradi

No. No. We’ve got Tim Tam. We’ve got the brutal dogs.

Trish 

Oh, perfect.

Dr Moradi

Mentor, the holding up of the male species in our household.

Trish 

Yep. Well, look, I’m so stoked too I mean, I’ve ordered my book, so I actually can’t wait to get it. I haven’t got it yet. So I don’t know what’s in it. So it’s gonna, it’s hard.
But first of all, it took you two years to write. So it’s obviously something it’s a passion project that by the sound of it as well. Like, you got I gotta do this. I gotta do this for my daughter’s not gonna do for everyone else to read as well. They’d be too young to read it now, I guess.

Dr Moradi

No. That’s written between. So they’ve got a copy of the book and it’s getting published on the tenth of October, which is actually my birthday. We were trying a lot of publishing in April for one daughter’s birthday that came and went and then we thought Mother’s Day that came and went and then we got the door. So anyway, we’re doing October. So I’ve got, like, 20 copies printed, they’ve got one on that bedside, they’re reading it and that they’re kind of, they’re enjoying it. They kind of get it, I guess. But, yeah, the 10th of October is the official launch date when all the products that you’ve ordered will be posted out too.

Trish 

Oh, fantastic. So you’ve actually written up for tweenagers.

Dr Moradi

Yeah. I think it’s for tweens and parents for tweens. Correct.

Trish 

Oh, great. So I’m just thinking when I was younger, there was a book that came out called Everybody and it was for women. It was sort of the book that we read as we grew past, adolescence into young adulthood. And that was like, that we all had to read. And I’m kinda seeing, is this something that you imagine might be taken on by the scores? Is there any problem with boys reading it as well? 

Dr Moradi

Again, I think there are bits that are very gender-neutral. Essentially, the book called Normal is because I had patients saying, we thank you for making me feel normal or I want to feel normal and that just kept resonating so that’s why it’s called Normal. And there are bits on transgender, gender fluidity on their you know, there’s a big chapter on the development of breasts, how they develop different things that can go wrong or right with breast development And I mean, as I talk about social media, body, the small fear. So there it does affect men as well, and I talk about boys in it. With prominent ears and rhinoplasties and vascular transformations that all these kids can get it is probably geared a little bit more toward daughters and girls.

Trish 

Yep. Yep. Because, like, the body of a small tween is just so huge, like, and without trying to get all the information from your book without the book. But can you tell us a little bit about like how would you even start a topic of conversation like this with someone so young? Like, how’s it presented?

 

Dr Moradi

I guess for me and I talk and I write about it and I book the studies. If your child had bad teeth and needed to go to a dentist or an orthodontist, you wouldn’t hesitate twice to send them without really knowing much about anatomy or embryology, but you just know it’s the right thing to do and I guess a lot of these things we’re doing in plastic surgery are not necessarily cosmetics it’s very much functional. So we interviewed a couple of a lot of my patients, but one of my patients at the age of 12, just had very large breasts, gigantic to massive.
You had, like, double H-cup breasts. And surgery doesn’t always have to be a cosmetic procedure whilst they have cosmetic benefits from it. For her, it was such a functional thing, and then she felt like she was getting sexualized at an early age because she had such big breasts and the problems with them, you’d never go down surgical parts for with most things. But sometimes, surgery is the only option. You know, if someone has a cleft lip and palate, sometimes, surgery is the only option so that’s kind of what I talk about in saying, we talk about the reconstructive ladder and surgery where we work up the rung from non-invasive to invasive, but sometimes you need to have a reconstructive elevator where you get off at the right level. Sometimes surgery is the only option. Sometimes braces are the only option. But it’s just empowering people to understand when it is the right time, and why they need it as well. You know, I did a labiaplasty on a 17 year old the other week. Now I usually don’t do it. I think that age, but she had growth asymmetries. She couldn’t wear clothing. She, you know, swimwear was a problem. Now what’s 99.9% of labioplasty is done by patients over the age of 21 post-pregnancy who don’t like the appearance of it. This was purely functional and no amount of waiting was going to make this process symmetry and dragging feeling any better. And I see a lot of letters from GPs or talk to a lot of patients who have what’s called tubeless breast deformity where the breasts develop differently and they see their GP and their GPs, they’ll wait till you’re older and you’ll grow out of it. They’ll, you know, the uneven breasts will catch up and it’s just said that these kids are living from the age of 12 and 13 with uneven breasts or very large breasts until 18, they’re pretty important years, so it’s good to know the options that are available. Even if you don’t operate early, you need to know when is a good time to operate.

Trish 

Alrighty. You know, I can relate to that on a personal level because I always had from grade seven. I think I had massive breasts and it actually affected my whole life and I didn’t get them done until I was in my forties. I’m like, god, why did I wait so long? Because of the trauma that those massive breasts caused me over the years and it’s just and it’s like what you said about the labiaplasty. I also have a friend whose daughter got one done at 17 and hers was purely functional as well. She’s a horse rider in competitions and stuff like that and it was just functional. And she got done it, and she back the first thing she said, she goes, oh my god.
I look normal, that’s the first thing she had to say after the surgery. Yeah.

Dr Moradi

And that is that is that word normal that keeps coming up?

 

Trish 

Yeah. It’s so right. And even I know myself, I’ve even said oh my god, I look so normal but you don’t know what they’re living within their own head, hey. So this is a great way to talk about that or just to bring awareness to it before it even starts, hey.

Dr Moradi

Yeah. Exactly. It’s just yeah. It’s just you know what is it’s about empowerment and owning your own agency of decision, you don’t have to have surgery. No one actually not the right thing to do most of the time, but it’s good to be able to make that decision, like, did the 17-year-old who had the labioplasty was more knowledgeable of this procedure than any of my “adult patients” who was great because it was great to see from my point, empowering for me to see that this generation is taking responsibility for their health.

Trish 

Oh, totally. And it’s like you for something like that, I think people who are having that, like, or girls that are having that the ladies that are having that done. Like, they’ve done a lot of research. Like, you wouldn’t go into something like that. Without doing a lot of research, you know, because it’s

Dr Moradi

Absolutely, you’ve been in the forum industry. You see all the latest HCCC rules to try to minimize content, which I think is a problem because the content is so important for people to have access to.

Trish 

Yeah. Totally. And I love the fact that you’re providing this book as a tool because it’s obviously like, I’m gonna wanna read it. You know, I’m sure my husband’s gonna read it. We’re grandparents and then we’ve got the uncles and aunties and the moms, the dads so this is a book that everybody can read. But it’s kind of designed for, like so what ages really? I know anybody, but

Dr Moradi

I think it’s parents and tweenies and parents of tweenies.

Trish 

Yeah. Yep. Okay. And even grandparents too.

 

Dr Moradi

Yeah. That’s the goal of it and it’s been nerve-racking along the way, like, more nerve also now as, you know, the publish, you know, the publishing date comes and I’ve read it so many times. We’ll see. You gotta put yourself out there sometimes.

Trish 

Well, that’s true. You gotta go to share your information. Sometimes when you put it in that box that you put it in like normal, that in itself is just, it’s brilliant. There’s no doubt about it.

Dr Moradi

Yeah. But I think when I have those nervous moments, I think you go back to the core of it. The core was to help.

Trish 

The why. Yep.

Dr Moradi

Yeah. The why. Yeah. And it’s helped and if nothing else, it’s helped me understand the process as well so maybe deep down I kind of did it for myself and not anybody else.
And if that’s giving me some clarity into my role as a parent, then fantastic.

Trish 

Yeah. Totally. And is there any time that you think that I mean, I’ll probably I don’t know if this is a this is a relevant question, but there’s gotta be a time when you think, I’ve done a good job with these kids and I think just the fact that if you can bring up children and not conscious of the way they look like if they’re too fat or if their belly’s too big or whatever because I’ve grown up as an obese child through to adequate until from about 20-30 years ago? So I’ve grown up with that and I’ve kind of instilled a bit of that in my kids and just to have with the grandkids, I’m uber careful what to say. You’re eating too much or anything like that because that’s I kinda grow out and say, you just do what you know. But even for someone like that, just reading a book like this, I think it can be a little therapeutic. Am I right?

Dr Moradi

Yeah. No. Yeah. You are absolutely right. It’s a good angle for it, I think.
No. And that’s why I don’t tend to think of it like that, but I like that why they look at it.

 

Trish 

Yeah. And how have you detailed in the book? Because, like, obviously, it’s about young girls finding accepting who and what they are, but also the acknowledgment of when they might actually need some help.

Dr Moradi

Yeah. No. And I guess yeah. It’s because what you don’t wanna do is think that you’re suffering by yourself. So the best example is this tubeless breast where breasts develop unevenly. And a lot of patients just don’t even know what options are available to them or the patient with live breath or we interview a transgender patient of mine. And the options available to these patients, because you just don’t want people to suffer silent and the labiaplasty, the tubeless breast. A lot of the time, the girls haven’t shown up there with their mum I mean, of course, they didn’t share their dads, but I haven’t even shared their experience with their mums. So and that’s something you did you’d think they would do.
And then want to look at a lot of the patients when they examine them, they don’t want their parents to be around because they’ve got this this shame and embarrassment about which is the exact wrong thing is it’s back to the tooth analogy. If you’ve got uneven teeth, you wouldn’t be as part of development and so abnormal breast development.

Trish 

Yep. Yeah. Because like I remember when I was at school, one of the kids in school had really big ears. Treating ears and they got their ears done. And it wasn’t even a second thought then. It was just something that you did, and it was purely an aesthetic thing in that case.

Dr Moradi

Yeah. Correct. You know, I talk about that in the book. It’s all about the otoplasty. How it’s performed and what interviewing a patient because that’s a classic example.
There are a lot of otoplasty patients, the boys all have long ears because they they just grow their hair long. So nobody sees their ears and then the young girls never put their hair up in a ponytail. They’ve always got their hair out because they’ve always worried about the prominent news and being teased, I guess.

Trish 

Yeah. Of course. So obviously, you got a few interviews in the book then, what are the I wanna know what the chapters are, that’s what I really wanna know.

Dr Moradi

Yes. So I guess the first chapter.

 

Trish 

Have you got a book there?

Dr Moradi

No. No. Not on me. Not on me. I’m just gonna get it so there’s a Chapter called Breast Wishes about breast development and how the breast develops. I mean sorry. I’m just trying to…

Trish

It’s okay. So it’s actually relative to them as well. Like, it’s not yeah.

Dr Moradi

Yes. It’s Chapter 1 – what’s normal anyway? Chapter 2 is body dysmorphia. Chapter 3 breast wishes, Chapter 4 face values, Chapter 5 parts down under talking about labiaplasty, and Chapter 6 Born This Way. You know, things that you can have for birth. Chapter 7 is about hunger games, Anorexia, and eating disorders. Chapter 8, is about a selfie, you mentioned social media in chapters 8-9 and Chapter 10 is about tattoos, piercings, and other body adornments.

Trish

Oh, it’s good. So you haven’t shied away from anything really?

Dr Moradi

Yeah. Yeah. We’ll see.

Trish

I’ve got to say, oh, I can’t even tell you how excited I am to get this book. Oh, I’m so excited. As soon as I found out, I thought, oh my god, I need to get this on the podcast. Spread that as far as I can as well because it just sounds like necessary reading because I know what it’s like to bring up bills and when you know, like changing your clothes a dozen times because you’re just not happy with the way you look. It’s just heartbreaking.

Dr Moradi

Yeah. Yeah. And maybe that’s why I ended up writing the book trying to tell myself when I have to have those problems when my girls hit their teenage years.

Trish

Exactly. It sounds like you’re being really selfish. Thank you. Yeah. Make it easier for you.
Look, I gotta say, well, from everybody like that’s gonna enjoy as well, thank you so much for doing this because it just sounds like you always think that everything within the world has already been done. But when something like this, you think, wow, why didn’t someone do this any sooner? It just makes so much sense. And we haven’t had a book like this that’s kind of like a book that all else should read at a certain time in their life, and we haven’t had something like that for ages. I’ve got a friend who’s an author and she wrote the anti-princess series and experience. Oh, perfect because it’s sort of like not that every girl has to be a princess. This kind of thing whereas a lot of them just want to be a princess, but it’s all, it’s like I love it. I love something like this, it’s great.

Dr Moradi

Well, I mean, I got three daughters as I said. If a boy wanted to be a prince or a boy wanted to be this, we wouldn’t think twice and we’d go good on them. But the sooner like, we need to teach girls to have agency in their decisions. It’s their decision and whatever decision they do we would never second guess, like, a little boy having a weak range like that. But as soon as it’s a girl, I think, a little bit more judgmental. So Yep. Hopefully, that’s what we could teach our kids.

Trish

Oh, that’s so true. Look, I gotta say, I can’t wait. So where are we gonna be able to buy the book? Is it just online or?

Dr Moradi

Yeah. So my the website’s normalbook.com.au. And then eventually, it will be on Amazon and all those other bookstores, but normalbook.com.au

Trish

normalbook.com.au, we put a link in with the podcast as well. So look, thank you so much for joining me today. I’ll probably have a million questions after I’ve read it, you know. We’d be like, oh, I hate to do the interview now. Thank you so much.

Dr Moradi

I do say in the book. It’s not about like, it’s got the book is purely about that the message is not like a plastic surgical book about talking about me. It’s very little. Actually, anything about me, it’s all about development and that so it’s not made for me to try to promote myself. What’s more, I don’t know what’s going on. Like, I’ve kind of thought why have I done this? Why have I done this? It’s been so stressful, but that’s what I always come back to is, like, the messaging, what the messaging is about.

Trish

Yep. No. Absolutely. And you know, if it’s not gonna be if it wasn’t hard to do, then it’s not gonna you know, I mean, the it’s just different. I think it is to do the better result it is and, you know anyway well, look, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it. And listeners have to listen so if you wanna buy the book, you can buy it online.
It’s preordered at the moment. I can’t wait to get my copies. So it’s just normalbook.com.au. Thank you so so much for joining us, Dr. Moradi.

Dr Moradi

Thanks, Trish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *