Cherry Healey has never been afraid to take on a controversial topic and question her own views on it. Having always been dissatisfied with her body and feeling like everyone around her is using procedures to stop the signs of ageing she’s starting to notice, Cherry is finding out the truth about cosmetic surgery. Her new three-part series Sex, Knives & Liposuction on W this week certainly doesn’t hold back when it comes to access all areas coverage of what surgery is really like. And Cherry is happy to ask the difficult questions to those undergoing procedures and also the doctors doing them.
As mum to Coco, eight and Bear, five, Cherry, 37, feels her body could be better, but after meeting some of those going in to major surgery and witnessing it first-hand will Cherry sign up?
I find the rise of plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures really interesting, I really wanted to try and have a blank canvas, look at it through the eyes of somebody growing up in a world where there’s a menu of things you can have done, and they are much cheaper. There are some really expensive ones that require a lot of thinking, but I’ve grown up in a world where you hide plastic surgery, you don’t talk about it, it’s fantastically expensive, it’s for the rich and famous but actually everything is changing now and that’s what I wanted to look at.
I really didn’t want to do the naked yoga [Cherry tried this right at the beginning as a way of trying to love and accept her body]. I was really confronting my old issues. When I was twenty, I hated my body, was really athletic, I was really muscly, I had really short hair and I had three brothers, so I was a bit of a tomboy. I didn’t feel sexy or womanly at all and I wanted to change everything about myself – I just felt like a square troll. If I’d had plastic surgery available to me I would have got loans and would look really different. I am grateful that wasn’t even an option at the time.
I am really nervous about my brothers watching this because I don’t want them to judge me and I tried really hard to be honest and open. I think most women have at some point considered something. But you know, I just hope that I was as honest as I possibly could be, and pretty quickly those big procedures looked unappealing to me. But I wanted to see, well if I am going to choose, I might as well learn as much as I can about them – The minute I saw the Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL), I was like woah… that’s a hard thing to watch.
Well, once you see somebody on a cold slab like a piece of meat in a butcher is being cut open, stabbed multiple times with a big long pole while they talk to each other about their plans for the weekend, I think it’s hard to then book yourself in for a BBL or a boob job. Then with one surgeon, Dr. Miami, he lasered off her nipple [as part of a procedure], it smelt so awful, it smelt like a human barbeque, and again you cannot un-see that. If I had booked a boob job, I would have not known what was going to happen but now I’ve seen it – it’s just horrendous. So, I think, yes, it’s definitely affected how I feel about surgery.
It’s actually one of the first documentaries I have made where I really had no idea how it would end up, so it was real mystery to us and the whole team talked about it loads. We kept chopping and changing – we went to Miami, met this beautiful woman, Anna, she was so stunning. It was so incredibly seductive. That is probably the closest I have come to wanting something done, it just all felt so easy.
The BBL definitely stood out to me the most because it’s such a dramatic procedure. It’s almost a comedy, because they suck the fat out of you with a thing that sounds like a drill and it just goes on and on – they have these big buckets that collect all the blood and fat and it looks like pink milkshake. And then they syringe it back into your butt and you can see one butt cheek lifting and then the other…it’s really brutal. I hated watching the surgery.
I definitely wouldn’t have had it done yet but in years to come, who knows. Thirty-seven is very different from forty-seven.
I think massive toes because I have really long toes. I’m hoping it’s massive toes, but I think it’s a really good point. I think with fashion, trends change all the time. You can take a dress off, but you can’t take your butt off.
I think that it’s very difficult to talk about this and not mention the Kardashians. They’ve had a huge impact on women’s bodies. There’s obviously lots of other people that have had dramatic surgery and have really impacted people. I think the Kardashian’s look seems to go hand in hand with success and certain lifestyles. Surgery for success is huge I think.
You never know, I have done everything I can to address my insecurities from the minute she was born. It has been a good motivation for me to stop the negative gremlin in my mind. And every time it pops up I think, ‘hang on, how can I expect her to feel good and happy with who she is?’ I don’t want her to be thinking about these things, I want her to be thinking about what train to Italy she wants to get and backpacking, and what course she wants to do, friends and boyfriends – not ‘oh my god, are my thighs okay?’ I’d love for her to feel liberated from that.
In some episodes you visit countries where plastic surgery is the norm – do you think Britain will ever reach this point?
Yes – I think it’s kind of going that way and I think we must accept that that’s what women are being told and not judge them. We should be really conscious about these photoshopped images and try and value women for more than how they look.
I think to say a woman can’t be a feminist because of actions that she has done of her own free will conflicts with what I believe a feminist to be. A feminist is someone who has equal value to a man. That is it. A woman who can make her own choices. Now, you don’t know why someone has made that choice and it’s actually really negative to become the judge and juror around if a woman is a feminist or not. I can make a really bad decision in the morning or I can do something really “un-feminist” in the morning and then do something that really upholds the feminist ideology in the afternoon. So, what does that mean, I’m not a feminist? In fact, we are all 360 colourful beings, I think it’s a very bad road to go down to be wagging fingers and say someone is not a feminist. Don’t judge a woman for what she is doing because you don’t know what it’s like to live in her skin.
I think it’s impossible to really know why you’re having surgery, because some women said they are getting it done for themselves but I just don’t really know if that’s true but how can I really know. My friend Mary had a boob reduction and that was definitely for her because her husband didn’t want it done. She felt really uncomfortable with her boobs. Now you can judge her and say ‘you can’t be a feminist and have surgery’ but personally that has made her really happy and she wished she had done that 10 years earlier.
I think that’s a really good question and I still don’t know the answer. For some women, it’s genuinely empowering. It’s a little tweak, it’s a little boost, it’s a little lift. For others, it’s just confirming the idea that we are our tits and teeth.
Sex, Knives & Liposuction, airs on Tuesday 18th September, on the W channel. You can also watch her present on BBC One’s Sunday Morning Live, BBC Two’s Inside the Factory and you can watch a lot of her hugely successful past documentaries on YouTube. Follow Cherry on Instagram and on Twitter for updates.