Some thoughts on that tired-looking older person in my mirrorAugust 21, 2017
Just the other day, I accidentally hit the Photo Booth button on my laptop, and was jolted by the image of a person I barely recognized staring back at me. She had a sagging jawline and jowls, a neck wattle, and deep troughs under her eyes. She looked so tired, old and not pretty.
But even with better lighting, a good night’s sleep and full makeup, the undeniable fact is this: I’ve aged. And getting to accept, without judgment, the visage of that person I see in the mirror or on my screen, well, it’s a process.
I’ve toyed with the idea of plastic surgery, using my fingers to lift and pull my skin to visualize what a neck- and facelift might make possible. And then I think, hey, my husband loves and still desires me just the way I am. The other people who matter to me—friends, family, colleagues—accept and value me for who I am, not what I look like.
Hence, my reasoning goes, why should I spend upwards of $15,000 so absolute strangers will think I’m younger than my actual age? Is it really so bad that men on the street no longer catcall me, or asshole guys don’t hit on me? Um, no.
And frankly, I’d rather spend the money on redoing the kitchen.
But the fact that so many of us question our worth at this stage of life—based on our aging countenances—affirms the extent to which the beauty industry and our society have done a number on us women. The invisibility that so many older women feel, and the lengths that some of us are willing to go in order to fit some externally defined concept of beauty, well, it sucks.
If beauty’s only
skin deep, why does its fading
shake our sense of self?
In fact, according to a November 2016 Washington Post article, the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) reports that the number of people 65 and older getting facelifts and cosmetic eyelid surgeries has more than doubled over the last two decades, with much of that increase occurring over the last five years. The overarching reason they’re going under the knife? To be more visible.
And the list of other things that are deemed in need of fixing seems to get longer all the time. Some of the more ridiculous ones I’ve read about lately:
- Pit puffs (sounds like an hors d’oeuvre, doesn’t it?), those little pads of fat near the armpits, can be targeted with CoolSculpting, a non-surgical fat-freezing procedure that claims to eliminate stubborn fat that resists diet and exercise
- Vaginal rejuvenation, which usually combines vaginoplasty (tightening of the vagina) and/or labiaplasty or vulvaplasty (reshaping of the vulva or labia), because—according to one website—“a recontoured, trim vagina may boost your self-confidence.”
- Dimpleplasties, a surgical procedure to add dimples like those modeled by celebrities (think Jennifer Garner or Mario Lopez) when they smile
- Chin cleft surgery (the Urban Dictionary refers to this as a “butt chin”), which apparently is a sought-after trait in Hollywood
- Eyebrow transplants for those seeking the Frida Kahlo/Keira Knightley look
- Toe shortening to make women’s feet conform to some idealized version of perfection; these procedures can cost between $2,000 and $15,000 for a complete foot makeover. Sounds like a modern-day version of foot-binding to me.
Look, I’m not judging women who do choose to undergo nips and tucks. Hell, I had an eyelift and facial rejuvenation done 15 years ago as part of a midlife makeover I wrote about for a lifestyle magazine, and I felt really good about how much younger and well-rested I looked as a result.
What’s more, when certain conditions legitimately impair a woman’s health and/or quality of life, and plastic surgery offers a solution you can afford, I say go for it.
But the “Kardashianization” preoccupation with looks and youth in our culture is NOT healthy. It’s one thing that so many of us baby boomers are going under the knife or needle but, according to the ASAPS, Botox use among millennials aged 19 to 34 jumped 87% between 2011 and 2016, with last year alone seeing a 31% increase from 2015. Sad.
And my sister told me about a TV show called “Botched”—about plastic surgery gone wrong—and one episode in which a 30-something woman with already-hugely enhanced breasts wanted to go bigger because she aspired to be “tits on a stick.” WTF?
Billy Crystal’s “Fernando” character from the early “SNL” days used to say, “It’s better to look good than to feel good.” Having just come through a health scare, which I wrote about in my last post, I call bullshit. Feeling good is way better.
The fact is, at 64, I am more comfortable than ever in my own skin—even if gravity and sun damage have left their mark. I’ve earned my lines and wrinkles—and I’ve learned that getting rid of them won’t increase my worth as a person, won’t make Hubs love me any more than he already does, and won’t contribute to world peace.
Bottom line, if someone is going to judge me based on my looks, I have two words for them: Bite me.
A kitchen facelift, on the other hand, could increase the value of our condo, make me a better (or at least more frequent) cook since I’d be inclined to spend more time in the kitchen (and that just might make Hubs love me more), and improve our home’s energy efficiency (which would reduce our reliance on foreign oil and thereby contribute to world peace).
I think that’s a much better investment, don’t you?
How do you feel about aging and its impact on your looks? Are you comfortable with your reflection? Have you undergone any cosmetic procedures? Do you want to? Would you rather have a new kitchen? A new car? A fun vacation? Please share…
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