This Is Not the Post I Had Prepared . . .

But this New York Times article from today’s paper really grabbed me. It’s about the effects of repeated “procedures” women have done to our faces in an attempt to look youthful. It’s a good read, if you can make time.

One of the main points is that these interventions — Botox, fillers and facelifts — don’t turn back the clock. No one really thinks we’re so much younger than our chronological age. It’s more an “identifier” of a certain kind of woman: one who has a bit of extra money, cares a lot about her appearance and wants very much to look a certain way. None of these things is bad, and none of them makes us young again. There is no young again, just whatever age we are now, the best we can be.

The author also bemoans the loss of expressiveness on the faces of Botoxed and facelifted women. I have to say this is something I notice only on TV and at the movies. None of my real-life friends has that look, and most of us are cruising steadily into midlife. So is this an upper class and celebrity phenomenon?

The article also made me feel sad and angry – about the pressures so many of us feel to achieve the impossible. About the value placed on a woman’s appearance so much more than on a man’s. At a pub last night the TV was tuned to CNN. Secretary of State Clinton was on the screen. I turned to my husband and said, “She’s accomplished so much.” A man next to me was saying at the same moment, “She looks worse all the time.” Would he say that about a male Secretary of State?

Then again (I always argue with myself!) I color my hair, I’ve bleached my teeth, I use Retin-A on my skin, I get pedicures. What’s the sliding scale between “healthy maintenance” and self-delusion? We all want to look good; that’s one reason we read our fashion blogs and offer encouragement to each other. But are we OK with also “looking our age”?

Picture via

As always, I’d love to hear from you. Do you have strong or mild feelings about plastic surgery to turn back the clock?

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  1. Anne, yes, it's a good point – if we change one feature, what would it do to the rest? Then again, natural aging changes our faces too, but at least it is very gradual. : >

    Sheila, you said it: we want to age gracefully but what if we don't? Modern science has given us a lot of tools (sunscreen, for example) but we each have to decide where to draw the line (no pun intended) : >

  2. I also have conflicting feelings about this: on the one hand, I wouldn't do Botox or have a facelift, but on the other, I dye my hair, slap on wrinkle cream, consider having my cheeks/chin/lip waxed…what's that line you cross between "having a procedure" and doing regular ol' maintenance on yourself.

    I want to age…gracefully. But what if age didn't let me? I'm lucky that my skin is not too bad. I'm lucky that I don't have a lot of wrinkles – I have genetics to thank. I can't judge other women and yet…I know at some level I do.

    I hate that women's appearances matter so much to us, to the media, to others. Excellent topic.

  3. I'd have to agree with Pam. Interesting point about procedures being an "identifier" of a certain status rather than an "anti-ager." In my case, if I had more money, I'd probably consider filling the vertical "frown lines" between my brows (so aging!) But if I did that, how would the overall look of my face be altered? Would my age just show in some different way? Would everything look "off," somehow? Very interesting.

  4. We can do everything and spend vast amounts of money, but no one can stop the inevitable…we do age, like it or not. I just want to do it gracefully…though I love looking my best..I do not think i would ever do surgery or Botox. I just want to be a joyful, fun, stylish grandma…but it is not time yet!!

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