I was having lunch with a friend yesterday, and we got onto the subject of cosmetic procedures and plastic surgery.
For me, plastic surgery is, well, surgery. I'm thinking of nose jobs, breast augmentation, tummy tucks.
Then, cosmetic procedures run the gamut from facial peels to lip injections.
I make the distinction because I think we all engage in some sort of cosmetic alteration - even if it's just getting our eyebrows plucked, wearing mascara or whitening our teeth.
I also think everyone has to find her own 'line in the sand' when it comes to what we're willing to do for the sake of beauty. What's acceptable for one person crosses a line for another. I know women who refuse to wear make-up and feel that doing so sets a precedent for low self-esteem and indicates failure to appreciate one's true beauty....or worse, to focus on beauty at all.
I know other women who've gone under the knife and come out needing an entire new set of bras.
This all brings me to a video I watched recently on YouTube. I was actually looking up a ballet synopsis (truly, I was), and this video came along the sidebar. It's a quick overview of a writer who undergoes (at Vogue magazine's expense) 15 cosmetic procedures over the course of a year.
Readers, she does it all. She gets lasers, fillers and lifts. She even gets a crazy non-surgical nose job.
Twelve months later, she shows us the results.
I'll say just a few things here:
1. Forget the procedures themselves, I loved this woman's clothes. She wore so many cute tops.
2. The dermatologist kind of freaks me out in a way I can't explain.
3. I wonder how much all of this cost. I looked it up on Vogue's website and didn't see any mention of price.
4. I see improvement, yes, but I don't know that I see 12-months, probably tens-of-thousands of dollars improvement. It wasn't nearly as drastic as I expected.
5. At the end of the video, the magazine shows a picture of Dunn that is so air-brushed it made me think: what the hell is the point of getting a year's worth of plastic surgery if you STILL HAVE TO AIRBRUSH her to death?
6. Dunn seems really happy with the results, which I think is the point.
7. I've known many people who've gotten procedures done like this, and the results are typical. It's not going to erase all your wrinkles or lift every sagging centimeter, but it does sort of take the edge off.
8. The whole idea of cosmetic procedures and surgery makes me sad in a way either I can't explain or don't want to address.
9. I saw a man the other day riding a recumbent bike down the side of the road. As I passed him, I realized he had no legs. Then, just as I came fully alongside him, I saw that he was also missing one arm. He was peddling a bike with one of his own arms, one prosthetic arm and no legs. I'm not sure how to reconcile that image and this video in my mind.
10. If we continually try to look younger (sexier, slimmer), will David Foster Wallace's words ring true: "Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure, and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you."
I have no agenda or soapbox here. I am tempted to have cosmetic procedures as much as I know in my heart that it's a slippery slope toward feeling, ironically, worse about myself as time inevitably takes it toll. In some ways I want to slow the process and smooth the skin and fade all of the sun spots that are beginning to creep across my cheekbones. On the other hand, I want my focus to be on other things, on the books I have stacked to read, on time with my family, on trips overseas and long chats over coffee and a new restaurant with an old friend.
The longer I write, the more it seems erasing the fine lines may have to simply take a back seat to the rest of life.
How do you feel about cosmetic procedures? Have you ever had 'work' done and been thrilled or disappointed or 'meh' about the results?
I'm off to have my hair colored now. The irony is not lost on me.