Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Once upon a time, in a universe far, far away, I thought I wanted to be an actress. I watched movies like "Sophie's Choice" and "Frances", and was simply amazed at the talent of the women who portrayed the title roles. They left me stunned, and sobbing, and in awe with their performances. But it wasn't just the dramatic actresses I adored, it was also the comedic actresses who weren't afraid to look and act goofy in front of the entire world that made me fall in love with the idea of acting. I not only admired these women, I wanted to BE them.

Okay, pause that story.

I am currently reading this book (loaned to me by a 40-something friend who received it as a gift from another 40-something friend). The author's approach to the changes occurring as a result of her own aging, and the underlying disconnect between how we perceive ourselves versus how the world perceives us as formerly-hot 40-something women, hits very close to home. She handles it with humor which helps, but it's still kind of like getting a bucket of cold water tossed in your face at times. Also, it's hard to take her complaints about her body too seriously when you see the photo of her on the book's jacket (she's obviously in shape and gets frequent facials). Anyhoo, all of this has got me thinking about how utterly fucked up our (and by "our" I mean collective American) ideas about female aging are which then led me to the whole plastic surgery thing.

Plastic surgery can be used for such positive things such as rebuilding a breast cancer survivor's breast, correcting a stigmatizing birth defect, and helping burn victims with their recovery. And I can certainly see the attraction of having a tummy tuck after having a couple of C-sections or a breast lift after nursing some babies. If it makes you feel sexier, more confident, prouder, etc., and you've got the time/money, GO FOR IT. However, when it having plastic surgery becomes such a normal and accepted part of trying to reverse the aging process because--God forbid--we actually look our ages as women, then I call bullshit.

Let's get back to those actresses I was talking about when I started this post. Some of them, like Meryl Streep, have had very little (if anything) "done" to their faces and bodies. But others have gone under the knife (often more than once) in an effort to roll back nature's odometer, and instead, have utterly messed up their God-given beauty that--guess what--would've remained classic and lovely if they'd just let it be. But instead they look like this:
And this:

Oh...Meg. Why?!
 And this:

Rocking the same look for 40 years + competing with your daughter = Blech
Granted, I have NO idea what the pressure for perfection in Hollywood must be like. It must seriously suck ass because there are so few working actresses--both young and old--who DON'T alter their looks in some way as a result of that pressure. But if these beautiful, talented women refuse to accept their physical flaws or age gracefully--Hell, even age at all--what does that mean for those of us who aren't quite as beautiful/talented? It's no wonder that so many of us struggle mightily to accept the fact that we're (ahem) middle-aged when our peers in the public eye would rather knife and inject and augment themselves to the point of ridiculousness than admit that the old grey mare ain't what she used to be. Our role models are, sadly, few and far between.

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