The other day I met an old friend for lunch. We hadn’t seen each other in about seven years — and in that time we’ve both become parents and changed careers — so it was a pretty jam-packed seven years. “Wow,” he said as we slid into the booth at a local diner and I removed my trusty sunglasses, “Do you not age?”
I actually laughed out loud because if there’s one thing I feel like I’ve definitely been doing over the past seven years it’s been AGING. I told him as much and he replied,“Well, you must be doing something because you seriously look exactly the same.” I thanked him and remained pleasantly perplexed for a moment before we moved on to another topic. I mean, seven years ago I was 25, so to say the compliment was appreciated would be the understatement of the year and we are running out of days here.
It wasn’t until later that I realized I had done something. In the past three months I’ve had an IPL laser treatment and a rather aggressive MicroNeedling facial, both of which are pretty renowned anti-aging treatments. It’s not that I didn’t want to disclose the help I’d had to my dining partner. It was that it simply didn’t occur to me to mention something that had happened inside of a lunch hour and I hadn’t really thought twice about since. And when it finally did occur to me, I felt weirdly guilty. Which is … weird. I mean, it was a passing compliment. He might not even have meant it. And considering the company, I probably would have still kept it to myself because I doubt if he was really interested in the ins and outs of my MicroNeedling procedure, but I digress.
See, disclosing things is like a knee jerk reaction to me. I had a nose job when I was 21 years old and as much as it may pain me to this day whenever someone compliments my straight nose, I feel compelled to tell them I wasn’t born this way (here’s the before, if you’re curious, it’s nothing drastic.). It’s like when someone says they like my designer pants and I can’t help myself from saying I bought them on the clearance rack at TJ Maxx. Like my internal moral compass takes hold and insists on making sure the message comes through loud and clear: I’M NOT TRYING TO PULL ONE OVER ON YOU, PLANET EARTH.
And so then some may ask “What’s the point?”. What’s the point of taking great lengths to improve and enhance our appearance if we’re just going to advertise the fact that we’ve taken them in the first place? Well — let’s consider for a moment, another recent lunch date (what? we all gotta eat!) wherein I found out that three of my closest girlfriends had all been getting Botox for years and not one had even so much as mentioned it once. I didn’t feel betrayed or lied to when I found out, and I didn’t think they looked any less amazing. But I did feel less insane 0ver the fact that I had become convinced I was aging much faster than many of my contemporaries. I wasn’t! It was just that everyone else’s Botox was making me look old!
I’ve been coloring my hair since I was twelve years old and have worn each shade like a badge of artificial honor. I’ve never been demure about my rhinoplasty (except to say it was the result of an accident WHICH IT WAS) and I feel like being honest about the things we have done to look our best is as key to the body image health of those around us as disclosing airbrushing in magazines could be. But for some reason the thought of injecting fillers and telling people doesn’t feel incredibly comfortable to me. I haven’t gone down that road yet, but if I do end up filling the divot in the right side of my nose that no one notices but me, I would likely keep that to myself unless asked directly. It’s not that I’m trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes any more than I have been in the past, but MAN if I wouldn’t be a little embarrassed at my own vanity. It’s a fine line, the desire to be comfortable with our imperfections and our ability to correct them. Still, a couple of days after that lunch where I inadvertently un-truthed about my aging interventions, when a girlfriend asked if I thought my recent cleanse was the reason my skin was looking so fantastic lately, I quickly and bluntly replied — “No, I think it’s the MicroNeedling I did last month.”
What do you think? To tell or not to tell? There’s a fascinating debate between a panel of celebrities and experts alike weighing in over at the New York Times Opinion Pages about this very topic right now. Below, a few of the highlights (for the full debate click HERE.)
Roughed Up 1 of 7
That's me immediately after having the top 3mm of my skin ripped off via MicroNeedling. Okay, that's not exactly how it works (for more, click HERE), but it was no walk in the park. The results? Freaking amazing skin with virtually no fine lines.
In the following slides, the NYT experts weigh in on "when beauty is not exactly truth."
Wendy Williams Weighs in on Wigs 2 of 7
"There is a ton of pressure on women to do it all while looking fabulous. I think we, as women, should be more forthcoming with most of the things we do to enhance our looks. You don't have to reveal everything -- some mysteries are best left to the imagination -- but there are some basic beauty tips that a girl needs to share with the sisterhood.
There's never been a better time for the hair conversation to take place, because so many women these days are wearing extensions, weaves and wigs. ...My hair always looks great because I wear wigs. "
Image courtesy of Vancouver Film School via Flickr.
Noah Levy Says Men Do It Too 3 of 7
TV Host and Lifestyle Expert Noah Levy confessed he and many of his male colleagues experiment just as much with beauty and he thinks they should all be more open about it --
"Most male public figures do not fess up to wearing a hairpiece, having Botox or even using concealer. Let me tell you something, they all do ... and it makes them look great!"
Image courtesy of ceedub13 on Flickr.
French Women Tell No Tales 4 of 7
Author of What French Women Know: About Love, Sex and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind, Debra Ollivier defends the French policy of keeping mum:
"French women are private about their beauty secrets, which is not to say that they don't have them. Vanity is universal, and French women have always engaged in beauty machinations. King Henry II's French mistress Diane de Poitiers is said to have consumed liquid gold as a beauty elixir. It kept her skin porcelain white but hastened her death. Centuries later, even Catherine Deneuve, the very face of France, apparently did her share of "age-defying." That said, Deneuve and her French sisters won't tell you much about their beauty tricks beyond face creams or haircuts, and they won't quickly reveal much about their personal lives, either. Trumpeting private business in public arenas or otherwise exposing the horticulture blooming in their secret gardens is considered a faux pas."
Image of Catherine Deneuve courtesy of Paul Sedra on Flickr.
Surgery for Sale 5 of 7
According to South Korean author Han Kang, it's just part of upward mobility in her culture:
"Everywhere in Seoul I'm confronted by slick, eye-catching ads for plastic surgery. The gist of them is: "My appearance was holding me back, but now I've turned my life around."
Image courtesy of Jun Seita on Flickr.
Disclosure for the Greater Good 6 of 7
Julia Holloman is a blogger and bariatric surgery advocate. She believes divulgence is key:
"Hidden under years of discouragement, heartache and emotional pain, I found truth, freedom and the real me. It has become my passion to help others find the same. Those who decide to undergo bariatric surgery or some other extreme weight loss program need all the support they can get. Therefore I absolutely feel that they should speak out about their questions, doubts and experiences, in order to help others, and so others can know how to help them."
Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy on Flickr.
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder 7 of 7
Dr. Doris Day (no, not that Doris Day) makes the case for mystery :
"When I first got married, I remember pointing out to my husband of two months that I had a pimple on my cheek. He looked at me confused, not seeing what I was talking about. To him my skin looked perfect and flawless and I looked beautiful. I realized right then that there was no need for me to point out my "flaws." He saw me a certain way and my goal, I thought to myself, would be to keep it that way. In the 20 years since then, I've been getting Botox treatments, but he still doesn't know that I do it for myself, or at least not when I do it. To him, I'm just beautiful, and he tells me so every day."
Image courtesy of EverJean on Flickr.