Not to post another link in lieu of a review, but in today’s Times, critic Manohla Dargis pens an eminently worthy article about plastic surgery and its deleterious effect on, get this, the quality of acting in Hollywood. She even mentions Julie Salamon’s book, whose praises Yancey and I could not stop singing. Best: She goes after Melanie Griffith’s mid-movie boob job, calling it a “passive-aggressive” response to Bonfire-set complaints about how her decrepit ole age of 33(!) was showing.
Clearly I’m particularly obsessed with this topic because it’s no longer theoretical to me. At 34, even if you’re good looking, those good looks either start sliding into the cultural category of impressive rather than pretty, or you get a lot of the classic “you don’t look your age!” What about looking your age, and looking damn good?
We women are so hoodwinked already. Even smart-as-a-whip either-coast women start coloring the minute the gray shows up — lordy knows I be no exception, even though it cracks my shit up that apparently there are no grey-haired women in all of Manhattan and Brooklyn under 75. Over the last decade, most women have started waxing their pubes to previously unimaginable degrees. And we just keep willing ourselves thinner and thinner. Even when we get knocked up, everyone’s cock-eyed scared of gaining an extra pound. Fine, fine. Although for myself on that one, I’m not so convinced. I was rail-thin in my 20s, but I also was afraid of food, not to mention my own shadow; mean and hungry; and weak as Southern coffee. These days, I have more meat on my bones, but I also have the breasts (finally) and can do 30 push-ups in one fell swoop and run five miles. Anyone who tosses me shit these days should know I can toss it back funnier and fiercer, kick his ass and then outrun him should he ever recover his wind.
At a bridal shower last spring, a dermotologist acquaintance who was a couple sheets to the wind grabbed my arm, and told me she’d inject botox in the furrow between my eyes at cost as a gift. She’s a sweet, lively girl, no joke, and I know that she intended no ill-will whatsoever. But I was completely floored nonetheless. Before she’d said that, I’d just assumed her own baby-ass complexion was a result of clean living and republican politics (ie no soul searching). After that, I read her good looks as a cheat. I was humiliated that she thought I needed to iron my face, but then got all steely about it, and here’s what I came up with: My face will stay my face. If I want to keep looking good, it’s going to have to be because I am living a clear, good life that I can wear proudly on my sleeve, and, yes, my features. I want to be the kind of woman who looks better at 80 than 20 because I’m both acute and kind. I want to be a moving picture, not a painting. I want to step out of this capitalism-borne mishegos and stop fearing each encroaching year as the enemy that must be toppled with modern science, a trainer and a board-certified Dr. Feelgood (costly tools that only sharpen the divide between well-off women and the rest; that only further conflate money with an ideal).
If it seems nuts that I am having to avow I will avoid plastic surgery, maybe you’re young, or maybe you’re just bullshitting yourself. Ladies and the men who attend to us, I have seen the future, and it’s all about deleting every storyline and character development out of that novel called your face if you can afford it. I say we learn for real how to look more carefully at ourselves and each other, at each and every light that comprise our whole being — as Free to Be as it sounds. Because we Western gals left foot-binding in the dust a long, long time ago — when we started injecting ass fat in our faces, to be precise — and the buck, as handsome and compelling as he may be, must stop somewhere. Right? Oh, dear, I certainly hope right.
Perhaps to atone for my bad Sundance attitude, herein lies a why-come for said festival.
Scene for a horror film I’ll never write:
Today in my office building, the magazine American Baby is holding yet another one of their misbegotten open calls for las cute chitlins. There’s nothing more depressing than happening upon an Upper East Side mother, collagen lips trembling (if botoxed forehead standing firm), bellowing at a weeping two-year-old when you duck into the ladies’. And on the elevator coming up from fetching the Egg Sandwich (capitalization mandatory), I got stuck with a very solemn woman, her tiny wide mom, and her tiny, wide baby girl, barely old enough to waddle. The mom was pushing a baby carriage that held not another baby but a boom box blasting Barney songs, to which the child swayed with a blank expression. Terrifying.