A Mini Riff on Plastic Surgery

I’m married to a man who has absolutely no vanity, I mean none, which indicates either a healthy self esteem or cataracts, while I have stood in front of a mirror more than once pulling my facial skin back behind my head, tie it in a knot tie it in a boweven though there’s a lot of evidence that smooth is never youth and often smooth is alien being.

Here’s something to ponder for a nanosecond: Why do celebrities with the world’s resources available to them go to quacks who stretch their eyes so oddly they can’t see how strange they look?  What do they see when they look in the mirror?  I know what I see in the mirror even if it takes me a second to recognize that old woman.  Are they like anorexics seeing fanciful illusions or do they ever say, Holy Cripes, I really messed up there, oh well, maybe nobody will notice.

It’s a free country (for the moment), what you do to your own body is your own business, and really, what will a facelift matter when we’re moldering in the ground?  Only this: We will never learn to love old people, love ourselves old, until enough of us let ourselves get flat out, unadulterated, unselfconsciously old.

I am going to be totally righteous about this just as soon as I stop dying my hair.

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21 Responses to A Mini Riff on Plastic Surgery

  1. susan o'connor says:

    Love this, Gabrielle! I think I can do without the face lifts, without the liposuction, without even lipstick, but I’ll be dying my hair forever! I’m more honest about it than I used to be, however. On St. Patrick’s Day someone asked if I was Irish, and I said no. “But your name….” they said. ” It belongs to my Ex,” I told them. ” But you have red hair, “they said. “Well, actually,” I confessed, ” I don’t.”
    Of course, truth be told, I’ve been dying my hair so long I have no earthly idea of the true color. And I’m afraid to look!

  2. I like your salty style!!

  3. Arlene says:

    I agree that I participate in the devaluing of women with my life-long over concern with face and figure. Being a chunky child with “such a pretty face” became a major part of my identity and lead to being given diet pills at age 11, yo yo dieting , an eating disorder and a thyroid that gave out and had to be removed after causing a 60 lb. weight gain and lots of self hate. The weight came off and the pretty face was a stretched out mess and so I used the money I inherited from my parents to renew the one they originally created. It’s was money well spent and the results of careful researching of doctors made it so nothing was distorted. I too dye my hair and I have accepted that I am vain.

  4. Kath says:

    My hair is silver now, but when I dyed it, it wasn’t because I had any feelings or delusions that I was controlling time, or cheating time, or even to become more sexually attractive; what I hoped in buying my box of wallet-draining, foul-smelling, hair-scorching Dark Auburn dye is that I could remain creatively and financially viable in the offices of those who controlled my access to the professional screenwriting world, the Amani suits who decided whether I should have an income or not. (Now, there’s an illusion to dye for.) I wasn’t afraid of my age when I colored my hair, but of the culture in which I lived. I was afraid that the culture was afraid of growing old. The culture that would–when (and if ) I ran the flag of white hair up the life mast–decide I should surrender my small, hard-won place on the poop deck of the Good Ship Hollywood. Yes, Tinsel Town, of all places, was where I decided to “grow out”, white and wild, at age 51. And when that white pathway through dark red fields on top of my head grew
    about as wide as a skunk’s stripe, I took to wearing a beret. You can be arrested in LA for being a woman over 30 with white hair wearing a beret. Hell, you can be arrested out there for being over 30. You can be flung into solitary for admitting it.

    Many women’s survival,–financial and otherwise– depends on lying. It was going on 2,000 years ago, and no doubt before that. I saw a play tonight, The Trojan Women by Euripedes. (wiggles her cigar Groucho-style) What a tragedy that was. Nothing changes. Great piece, Gabrielle, good discussion!

  5. Kath says:

    I know, I know, I spelled Euripides wrong. I’m old, I have white hair, whadddya want from me?

  6. Kate says:

    Gabrielle – oh yes, the pull it back and tie it in a bow – my man-thing-partner initiated a conversation that plastic surgery is more complex, it’s been around in cultures throughout the world since the beginning of time. Plastic surgery, not only about age but as adornment, aesthetics and beauty. He also is part Brazilian so young people get plastic surgery for the sake of vanity – bigger butt, boobs, hair =). Plus, I pointed out that he is a man where age is less of a problem so he may be just prone to not understanding the issues of aging and plastic surgery. But then – is body building plastic surgery? the sculpting we do to have these unreal (often brilliant shapes, thank you Hugh Jackman) bodies. I have tattoos – he’s pointed that out – plastic surgery…? is it all that different from adornment, from dressing up, wearing perfume, growing a beard, looking fabulous…? all very thought provoking…and thank heavens I do not live in Hollywood. I’m a 51 year old hippie wearing woolies, cowboy boots and miniskirts…they’d skip the arrest and just shoot me on the spot – wrinkles, grey hairs and all. =)

    • Thought provoking indeed, Kate. People have written & will continue to write books about all these things you & your partner bring up. Two things: I think tattoos are adornment not plastic surgery and it hurts my heart when young people get carved up to achieve some image the culture tells them is the way to look.

  7. Ms. Burton.
    I’m such a fan of yours–and today even more.
    I’ve recently begun doing a daily on-camera stint called the “Social Media Minute–and a half” on the U-TTV.com website.
    Seeing yourself on-camera can be a challenge to the ego. In the first weeks i found myself picking apart every flaw. I had a pooch. My hair looked funny. My cheeks were too red, my cheeks weren’t madeup enough…it went on and on.
    Finally, I decided I wanted to be a reporter as smart as Candy Crowley. She’s not the perfect size, nor does she have a perfect face, but she’s a force to be reckoned with and her looks aren’t what makes her such a powerhouse.
    I’ve accepted myself as I am, and work hard every day to be better than the last. It’s a distraction from beating myself up, and a relief from getting so much stress as to put me into an early grave.
    I wear enough makeup as to look my best and I cover my gray hair–but face surgery or Liposuction aren’t in my future.
    Thanks for the blog post. Hope more women read it.

    • Hurrah for you, Rebekah! I think you’re going to be a terrific reporter because you care about truth and accuracy and brains and strength and working hard. Keep in touch and let me know how it goes.

  8. Susan Apel says:

    Gabrielle, I was working at KNOW when your book was published. I still have an original copy. Aging is a topic of interest to me. I have my own blog at turning60blog.wordpress.com called A Woman of a Certain Age. One of my first posts is called I Am/Am Not Genevieve Bujold that deals with my own surprise at finding myself to be 60. I look forward to reading your book and will be following your blog.

    • I’m so happy you wrote me, Susan. KNOW–a world forever gone and always there–Weren’t those wonderful times? And here we are, still trucking along–JoAnne would be proud. I’ll be following your blog too.

      • Susan Apel says:

        Thank you for your response. I have enjoyed all of my work–as a lawyer, law professor, scholar and writer–but my work at KNOW was one of my absolutely favorite jobs.

  9. Barbara Wolff-Reichert says:

    So very glad you are writing this blog and am also enjoying the responses.
    So – on the subject of hair color – I think I’ve decided that, for me, its adornment. I’ve been having fun with highlights and just seeing me looking different. and the best part is that I’m not stuck with any ‘bad’ outcomes! It can always be done differently next time.

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