Tag Archives: plastic surgery

The Deeper Business of Being Beautiful Inside

4 Mar

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 11.11.10 PMIn a moving speech given prior to her Oscar win for supporting actress, Lupita Nyong’o encouraged women to “get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.”

It’s a simple but difficult proposition.

In the same Oscar ceremony where Nyong’o won her award, 81-year-old actress Kim Novak also appeared–noticeably and disturbingly altered by plastic surgery.

What a contrast. I was named after Kim Novak, so I’ve always paid attention to her over the years. It’s sad that she felt she had to go to such lengths.

Why can’t an 81-year-old woman look 81? Grandmas rock. I always thought my grandmothers and older aunties were cool, even if they wore funny teased-up hairdos and cat-eye glasses with rhinestones. They made excellent peanut butter cookies, smoked Salem cigarettes, and ate Chinese food. Their skin was soft and pale–protected from the sun because it was a sign of poverty to have so much color on your face. By night, they wore Pond’s cold cream, and by day they wore little to no makeup. Well, maybe a little bit of lipstick.

It was a shock to see Novak’s face, but why? There’s an expectation that women will look young for as long as we can. With many women my age, it starts off with Botox or collagen injections. Mouths go from normal-looking to Joker-esque. Courteney Cox, Demi Moore, Cameron Diaz, et al. And it just gets stranger-looking from there. Joan Rivers and Madonna–why? Looking one’s age is better than looking like someone else–or like a puffed-up doll.

I read today that Kim Novak was criticized from a young age and began altering her look long before preparing for last night’s Oscars. Even during the era of Bell, Book, and Candle and Vertigo? What a shame.

I remember when I was a teenager looking at myself in the mirror and not liking what I saw. At the time, I pretty much felt like an ugly duckling and looked nothing like Kim Novak in the movies. I don’t think I started liking what I saw until I was in my late 30s. I regret not appreciating even little things about myself, inside and out, much earlier.

Now, it’s fine. I am content with what I see and who I am. There are scars, lines, and wrinkles on my face. I’ve made mistakes and learned from them. I have light skin, freckles, a noticeable nose, larger than I would like pores, and a stripe of silver hair in my center part. I procrastinate and indulge my children more than I should. So what?

If I saw something different, it would be a lesser version of me. Why go to all the trouble of changing what it took so long to earn? I don’t want to go back to my 20s or look like I could be 20. Why not go forward?

A natural face at any age is more beautiful than plastic. And Nyong’o is right: it’s inner beauty that makes for happiness. We need more Betty White than Kim Novak.


2 Aug

Fair warning: This post may offend some people. But I’ve been thinking about writing it for a while, so here goes.

Tonight I saw a Facebook post by a friend about a model named Janice Dickinson. Apparently, she is the (in her words) “first-ever supermodel.” I didn’t remember her from her modeling days in the 80s, but I recognize her because she’s one of the judges on the show “America’s Next Top Model.”

The reason I remember her is that she is downright scary-looking. Her face is so stretched out, she looks like The Joker. The effect on her mouth is like a wide-mouth bass’s grin. Yikes.

Wondering what she looked like before plastic surgery, I took a peek at the interwebs. And wow, I can see why she was the first-ever supermodel. She was really beautiful.

And here’s the thing: I think she still would be now, if she hadn’t had so much plastic surgery. I am 100% confident that she would still be stunning, however old she is. I wish she felt that way, too.

Plastic surgery is interesting to me. I know a lot of people who’ve done it, or who’ve had Botox treatments. To each his or her own, I say. If it makes you happy and you’re not hurting anyone, then so be it. My feelings about it have more to do with just not understanding the motivation than judging people for deciding they need to do it.

This is what it seems like, to me:

When women reach “a certain age” (I can say this because I’m pretty sure that being 43, I am right there), they want to get their youth back. And they will do all sorts of things to change their bodies, to feel and look young again. The other thing that’s so common now is that that I see women at my age getting too thin. And then they lose too much weight and end up looking like skeletons. I think that you lose some personal integrity–a small part of your dignity–when you do this. Similar to being in a relationship with someone much younger. It’s just out of balance.

Going overboard with the plastic surgery or getting too thin actually makes women look older, I think. It makes that desire to be young again more obvious, and sad in a way. It seems desperate to me, going backward instead of forward. Kind of like being on a treadmill and slowly losing pace, until you ultimately fall off the back.

I just can’t imagine wanting to go backwards in time. Maybe it’s the way I’m wired: I always think that the future will bring good things. I have no desire to go back to my teens, 20s or 30s. Maybe I’ll feel differently when I hit 50. I’ll report back then.

Plastic doesn’t bring back being young. Why not just get a haircut and an extra ear piercing?