I was reading this extremely reasonable interview of Cate Blanchett’s in which she says about plastic surgery:
“I haven’t done anything, but who knows,” she says. “Andrew said he’d divorce me if I did anything. When you’ve had children, your body changes; there’s history to it. I like the evolution of that history; I’m fortunate to be with somebody who likes the evolution of that history. I think it’s important to not eradicate it. I look at someone’s face and I see the work before I see the person. I personally don’t think people look better when they do it; they just look different. You’re certainly not staving off the inevitable. And if you’re doing it out of fear, that fear’s still going to be seen through your eyes. The windows to your soul, they say.”
Well, if reporters for Vanity Fair dub you “fresh faced and dewey” and an “ethereally pale wraith” (I think that’s meant as a compliment) when you’re jetlagged and 40 is knocking at the door, I think it’s pretty much a given that you’re pretty well off in the looks department.
But what about the rest of us? Most women tend to be insecure about some part of their body – I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman who wakes up every single morning, looks in the mirror and says, “Wow, I’m just so perfect!” There are bad hair days, bloat days, pimple days, big pore days, I-ate-too-much-over-the-holidays days and all of them leave you feeling like crap.
Some of us don’t even try on days like these – what’s the point, after all? Just put your head down and hide in your bed if you can, praying for the miserable day to end.
No amount of make-up can ever hide that Leaning Tower of Pisa that erupted overnight on the tip of your nose – even if other people are seemingly blind to it, you know it’s there and you can feel it climbing higher into the sky with every passing hour. No amount of product can make your hair look less like a bad wig when it’s on the outs – even if your friends are telling you it’s “fine”.
Our own imperfections are never as bad when we’re the only ones who get to stare at them. It’s when we start imagining how other people are going to perceive them that we want to run screaming off a high ledge.
Modern day plastic surgery’s greatest accomplishment is not that it has made us look better – arguably most people come away looking like victims of alien experimentation – but that it’s made it possible for us to look the way we want to look to others. To marry the perfect image in our heads to the physical reality of our ordinary selves. And a lot of us want to look like freaks with outsize lips, giant breasts, disproportionate penises, “re-virginized” hymens, immovable-by-reason-of-poison facial muscles, et al.
I have no idea why this is so appealing to so many folks. Perhaps it’s an evolution thing – back in the day when we didn’t have synthetic bio-materials and animal cells to inject/transplant into our bodies, we made do with tattoos and piercings. With advances in technology, we’ve found other ways to up our desirability quotient. What I do know is that it’s hard to find a woman (and quite a lot of men, it must be said) these days who haven’t at least thought about some kind of cosmetic surgery.
Personally, watching them go at it with chisels and hammers (actual plastic surgery tools fyi) on Nip/Tuck might have forever cured me of wanting to even touch my face with a needle, but there have been times when I’ve thought ahead to my 40s and wondered if I might be open to a little assistance as I get older. I don’t worry so much about my face, mainly because I have excellent genes and I don’t think I’m going to end up looking like a Shar Pei (which: awww! adorable!), but gravity exerts its pull on other parts of your body too.
I guess it all depends on what I look like at 40. And whether Demi Moore’s surgeon is still available.