Plastic Surgery: Going Under the Knife to Always Look 36
By Morgan Shanahan on January 24, 2011
Ladies, if you're 36, you're perfect. Everyone else? Listen up.
At least, that's what an article by Eva Wiseman in the GUARDIAN's Observer Magazine would have you believe. I think. My British isn't great, so it's possible that Wiseman was being facetious, and I missed it in the language nuance...
Either way, I'm left kind of shaking my head to rattle my brain around in hopes that what I read will start to reorganize into something that I can process, but so far, no luck. Allow me to break it down for you anyway:
- For those chasing eternal youth, 36 is the target age they should be seeking to preserve. Even if they haven't reached it yet.
- In order to achieve "YEAR ZERO" [as the Guardian has coined it - their term for the "ageless, thirty-something face" a la 23-year-old Lindsay Lohan] you really need to get started with a solid plan early on. Demi Moore's has included over $200 grand in surgeries including a knee lift. Which, THANK HEAVENS is available, because I've always hated my knees.
- The goal is no longer to look youthful, but ageless, which apparently includes mealworm lips and "ice-rink" botox. I assume that's when you use so much filler you end up looking like your face just got ran over by a Zamboni.
On second thought, maybe you guys should go read the article right now, and then come back here so you can tell me what the [expletive deleted] you think Wiseman was getting at. Because obviously, I'm still reeling.
I live in LA. And not only that, but I grew up here, AND I was a Michael Jackson fan, so plastic surgery certainly isn't new to me. In fact -- GASP -- I actually went under the knife myself at the ripe old age of 21. No, I wasn't trying to recapture my days as a fetus, my roommate and I had gotten tipsy and I'd walked face-first into the early 1900's wrought iron fence that she was swinging in my direction as we exited our apartment. Smashed my face to smithereens. But I digress. Plus, I've told that story enough times to know that everyone rolls their eyes at you when you claim to have had cosmetic surgery for non-cosmetic reasons. So let's just say I got a totally frivolous nose job when I was barely out of my teens and leave it at that.
Point being - this article really got under my skin, and not because I thought Wiseman was suggesting that at just-barely-sub-thirty, I better start scheduling my mini-lifts now if I want to have a fighting chance at agelessness. Which I don't, because it's a creepy idea. I want to know what I'm going to look like at 36 ... not just a doctor's rendering that loosely resembles what I might have looked like if I'd "let myself go" long enough to find out. But what really disturbed me was the fiber of truth that the so-called "year-zero" argument was built on. What is so wrong with this picture, that we as women hate our faces so much we want them altered beyond recognition before we even scratch the surface of age? In Wiseman's own words -
While few celebrities will admit to having had cosmetic surgery, the surgeons themselves are outspoken. "It's a matter of the right procedure on the wrong girl at the wrong time," New York plastic surgeon Douglas Steinbrech told W magazine. "There's this new mentality that if you do not look a little bit fake, then the surgeon hasn't done his job. This used to be a much more prevalent idea on the west coast, but now you walk up Madison Avenue and you see these young girls with that cloned, cougar-like face. Either they don't know what they look like, or they want to look like they've had something done."
The week following my run-in with the scalpel was among the most emotionally trying of my young life -- I know what kind of crazy narcissist that makes me look like, but there it is. I'd grown up with that face. For 21 years, for better or for worse, that was the face I woke up to every morning. It was mine, and I'd gotten kind of attached to it. I was terrified that when I looked in the mirror after surgery, I wouldn't recognize the face that was looking back.
I was lucky. I still like my face. I had a great surgeon who listened to my concerns and didn't leave me with any of the tell-tale pinches and pulls of rhinoplasty-gone-wrong (except for mis-matched nostrils, but you can't win 'em all). He altered my nose so slightly that when I went back to school after holiday break, people simply thought I'd changed my hair. Still, it took me a while to adjust to the person looking back at me in the mirror. Where my old nose had a small bump and squiggle that made it "mine" my new nose is smooth as a ski-jump. That bothered me at first. I thought I'd lost my "character." To this day, I'll catch myself in a photo at a certain angle and realize that I don't recognize me. It creeps me out every time.
The fact that so many women -- girls even -- are so ready and willing to trade in their face for a newer model is something that I think should be much more concerning for us as a culture. Why don't we value our differences? Why are we lining up in droves to have our similarities eliminated and replaced with something that we're not even hoping to pass off as real?
What was your take on the article? On the move towards age-less-ness in general? Do you think that the anti-aging movement is a feminist issue? Because I'm kind of starting to.
Morgan (The818) is a blogger and screenwriter living in Los Angeles. She overshares her personal life - complete with curse words - at The818.com, talks art and design over at Cargoh.com, and tweets: @the818.
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