After the doctor measured my ears and confirmed that they were sticking out above the recommended guidelines, I was scheduled in for an operation to pin them back. I was six years old at the time.
I wasn’t being picked on and wasn’t aware I had a problem, but my mum, Alison, now 50, thought it might become an issue later in life.
I’d expected the surgery to be painful but it wasn’t. However, I still remember crying as my bandages were removed – I thought my ears were going to fall off. But of course they didn’t and, looking into the mirror, I thought I looked great for having the surgery.
Afterwards when I was flipping through a family album and saw pictures of me before surgery, I thought I used to look like a monkey.
I guess it was at that time that I got a taste for altering my body. When I hit my teens and came to know more about the cosmetic procedures available, I didn’t see why you had to accept the way you were when flaws could be corrected easily.
I wanted to change the way I looked and started plotting: as soon as I was old enough I was going to make some big changes.
I was 18 when I had my first treatment – tattooed make-up for my eyes, eyebrows and lips, costing £600 (Dh3,690) initially, followed by £1,600 in top-ups a year later. I’d saved up money from my job as an accountant, to cover the cost of the procedure.
The tattooist draws the make-up with a pencil first then, once you are happy with it, goes ahead and tattoos.
This was really painful – it felt like someone was drawing around my eyes with a scalpel – so after the second bout of torture, I decided to stop having eyeliner and lip liner tattooed on. It wasn’t worth the pain. Also, the results weren’t as effective as applying my own make-up, and that was far less painful. But I still get my eyebrows tattooed on.
I’ve always believed you don’t have to accept the way you were born. I think it’s fine to pay for changes. What’s the difference between wearing make-up and having liposuction? It’s all just tinkering!
When I was 21, I started getting three sets of £250 chemical peels and spent £3,500 on lip fillers every three months. It was not as painful as the tattooing. They were easy – I would step into a salon and would be out with a new look in a few hours.
My friends were getting used to me undergoing such procedures and every time we would meet, would ask me, “So, what have you done this week, Maddie?”
One morning, when I was 23, I told my mum, “Guess what I’m going to do today?”
Mum rolled her eyes and said, “Oh no, Maddie! Don’t tell me you are having something done.”
With a knowing smile, I told her I was getting a breast augmentation.
Mum tried to tell me not to, but I’d made up my mind. I spent £4,800 on breast augmentation, going from a size 32C up to a size 32H.
My friends thought I looked great, but some of them told me I shouldn’t have bothered because I looked good even before I’d had the surgery.
I have to admit some of the procedures I’ve had have raised eyebrows.
There have been times I’ve got carried away with the lip fillers and they have left me with looks that were not really pretty.
Once I underwent a lip-filling procedure and an ex who saw me was aghast. “Your lips look huge now, Maddie,” he said. “Like the Joker’s.”
Because the doctor had used so much filler, I couldn’t smile properly or even move my face. I promised to stop having them so regularly.
Now I have to have lip fillers sneakily because my mum doesn’t approve of them.
“Maddison, come here!’’ she orders, inspecting me. “You’ve had your lips done again, haven’t you?’’
“No,’’ I fib. “I wish you’d just leave your face alone,’’ she says. That’s all she’s ever asked – she doesn’t mind me getting liposuction and breast augmentations if I have to, but leave my face alone. Unfortunately I’ve never been very good at doing what I’m told.
I’d always wanted to look like a Barbie doll and I was willing to go to any lengths to achieve the look.
I’ve had my teeth whitened, which cost £1,100 plus £60 for top-ups. I like them really white.
I’ve had laser eye surgery, costing £4,000, and laser hair removal for my legs and underarms, which cost £600 and £60 for every top-up.
In April last year, I wanted to have a flatter stomach. I’d tried diet and exercise but nothing I did got rid of my pot belly, so I decided liposuction was the only answer.
I realised surgery was a lot cheaper with Secret Surgery (www.secretsurgery.co.uk), a company that takes you to countries like Poland for cheaper cosmetic surgery than can be found in the UK.
My stomach liposuction alone would have cost £4,500 in the UK, but I got liposuction on my tummy, legs, arms and chin for £5,000 in Poland.
My surgeon agreed to remove fat from my tummy but said I didn’t really need it on my arms or legs. But of course, I didn’t think so. “Just go the whole hog!’’ I said.
I wasn’t really unhappy with my body. I just felt that if there were ways to improve it, then why not? And it was going to be done under anaesthesia, so I wasn’t worried.
But when I woke up I was in absolute agony. It was like I’d been through 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. My body felt bruised, delicate and began throbbing with pain once the painkillers wore off.
In the first few hours after the procedure, I really regretted it because of the pain. I also felt alone in a foreign country, but once I recovered, I didn’t regret it a bit.
Although I didn’t lose much weight, the doctors removed two litres of fat in total from my body.
I didn’t have any particular person’s looks in mind when I was going for the procedures. I only wanted to have a glamorous look.
I hadn’t told Mum I was getting it done but I called her from hospital in Poland after the operation. She was just upset that I didn’t have anyone with me. Her main priority is that I’m safe and in good hands.
Back home in the UK, Mum was by my side after my lipo. I could barely stand and was in agony, crying.
“Look at the state of you! Why do you do this to yourself?’’ she begged.
It was the most pain I’ve ever been in, but I recovered quickly and loved the results, going from a size 12 to a size eight. Of course it hurt, I’d had the fat sucked out of me. But then no pain, no gain, right?
Admittedly, getting the lipo on my legs and arms was lazy – I should have just exercised. But the lipo I had on my tummy was my best move so far. I love my flat, toned stomach and I don’t think I could have achieved it through exercise alone.
I’ve spent at least £25,000, but things I used to hate about myself, I now love. You can’t argue with the results! I say to my mum, my flat tummy is the best thing I’ve ever bought. She just rolls her eyes. The way I see it, I’m £25,000 more beautiful than I was before.
My family knows that my desire to get all these improvements is just part of me. I am very self-assured and it is not that I am looking for compliments from anybody.
My mum used to plead with me to stop, but now she knows I won’t – she only tells me to be careful.
I work hard to fund my hobby. I am an accountant by day and by night I run my own business selling quality hair extensions. I’m not in debt. I don’t go out every weekend but when I do go out, I want to show off my body. There’s no point spending all this money if I can’t show off the results.
I’ve spent a fortune on my looks, but some women spend the same amount on going out and they have nothing to show for it. I’d definitely prefer to go to the hospital for another upgrade than go out for a meal at a restaurant.
I’m not done yet – in fact I’ll never be finished. I want to have another breast augmentation and I need more laser eye surgery. Then there’s the maintenance – I’ll keep having my eyebrows tattooed on, as well as lip fillers and chemical peels.
When I’m older, I’ll have Botox. Why not? A nip here, a tuck there, I don’t see what the big deal is.
As an accountant, people expect me to be timid. But as a fan of cosmetic surgery, people expect me to be a bimbo. I love cosmetic surgery and I’m smart! My beauty is straight from the operating table and I think it’s money well spent.
Maddison Hawk, 26, lives in Witney, Oxfordshire, UK.