There’s a perpendicular line, right between my eyebrows. It has become permanent, standing there like a sentinel, making everyone think I’m angry, or at least deeply concerned, when I’m not.
There are shadows of more perpendicular lines above my lips. I can see them, and I know they’re only going to get worse. Soon they won’t be shadows but sharp ridges.
There are the dark spots high on my cheekbones, just underneath where my sunglasses rest, that won’t go away no matter how many creams and tinctures I’ve rubbed on them.
At the age of 43 my face is transforming before my eyes. I wonder what it is about this particular year that has led them to emerge.
I could pretend I don’t care about these things but that would be bullshit. I care. Yet I’m not supposed to say I care, right? Because that’s not cool. Screw appearances and makeup and Hollywood and the Kardashians. We’re not supposed to care how we look.
Well I do.
Babble Voices columnist Ali Wentworth put together a video this week about her feelings about cosmetic surgery and how difficult it is for women to talk about it. She’s going to get her eyes redone, and in the process of making the decision she discovered that no one wants to admit they’ve gotten plastic surgery or even broach the subject. Why is that? Why is a conversation about improving one’s appearance so hush hush?
It’s certainly not the case when it comes to fitness. People can blog and tweet all day long about the run they just had or the diet they’re on or the spinning class they just took and everyone’s all, “That’s cool. You shoulda seen how many crunches I did this morning.” Fist bumps.
But an injection? Shallow. Soooo shallow.
I love what Catherine Connors wrote about this in her reply to Ali’s vlog: “Strong women resist cultural messages about beauty. Strong women stay real, even if real exists on a blurry spectrum that runs from not shaving legs to plucking eyebrows to using eye cream to coloring hair to ‘having work done.’” Well I’m strong and I shave my legs and pluck my eyebrows and use eye cream. (Thankfully God took care of the hair coloring thing for me so that I don’t have to deal with that.) I don’t believe choosing to stay 100% as you are or making a change here or there are indications of your fierceness either way.
I think some of the taboo of this issue — not all, but some — has to do with people’s views of getting help. For anything. If you can’t do things on your own, or do things without help, or pull yourself up by your bootstraps, or just accept where you are, then you aren’t tough enough. It doesn’t matter if it’s depression or fine lines. Get over it. Says who?
If I had the extra money, which I don’t currently, I’d run out and fill in that line between my eyebrows and get a teensy smidge of botox and see what I could do about those spots. There’s no doubt about it. We could have an argument about our image-obsessed society or we could get over ourselves and realize that attractiveness is actually part of evolutionary biology. Really.
Just listen to Denis Dutton, the late philosophy professor and editor of Arts & Letters Daily, in his TED talk about Darwin, beauty and universal, cross-cultural aesthetic values. Dutton explains, “The experience of beauty is one of the ways evolution has of arousing and sustaining interest or fascination, even obsession, in order to encourage us to make the most adaptive decisions toward survival and reproduction.” We are hard-wired to seek, appreciate and attempt beauty, y’all.
Okay fine, we don’t live in caves anymore. We have cars we can get in now so that we can drive away from the meat-eating animals chasing after us, and we have antibiotics to cure our many ailments. We have internet dating so that it’s easier to find that hunter-gatherer mate, but it doesn’t matter. We’re talking tens of thousands of years of programming that are still leading us to care about how other people look and how we look, too. That’s not going away any time soon.
It’s true some people take it too far. There are people who put 100% of their value in how they look, who get so much plastic surgery they no longer resemble themselves. I’d venture to say those people’s problems have less to do with society and image and more to do with their own mental health. As a parent, it does concern me that some have pushed contorted expectations of beauty down onto their children. Just watch an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras. These are extreme cases, though. Most parents aren’t going overboard with their children, and they’re not going overboard with themselves. Those that do elect to have a nip or a tuck are most often doing it because it makes them feel a little bit better.
I like the idea of feeling a little bit better, should I have the wherewithal down the road to get a needle in my face. I know it won’t solve all my problems, or stop the hands of time, but I’m ready and willing for a good dose of Botox. And I can feel comfortable knowing that Darwin says it’s okay. Well, sort of …
P.S. Don’t take me so seriously. I’m just having fun with you. Except for the part where I really would get Botox. Fo sho.
Photo credit: © shefkate – Fotolia.com