Let’s face up to a face-off in this age of beauty
Old now has an official age. What do you think it is? 50? 60? 70? You may be surprised to find it’s just 44. Yep. This is the age at which women think they’re getting old enough to consider cosmetic surgery, a new British survey has found.
Apparently, a quarter of women are unhappy with how they look, and start seriously thinking about surgery in their mid forties to trim their tummies, lift their boobs and tighten their faces.
As a 44-year-old woman, this is not a fun fact to discover. I really shouldn’t be surprised that I am now considered old. Although I am young enough to have a six-year-old son, I am old enough to have him shriek in horror every time he accidentally sets sight on my unclothed body. But I did think I had another decade or so before I looked old enough to have to start looking like I was 25 again.
The UK research by the Harley Medical Group – which clearly has a vested interest in normalising plastic surgery – found women don’t want to look half their age, but do want to look “like themselves on a good day”. Indeed, three quarters want minor results that aren’t noticeable to anyone but themselves. Six per cent, however, will go all the way and have cosmetic procedures.
It sounds about right. As a naturally ageing woman I am increasingly an outsider among my friends.
Two decades ago all my friends were getting married. Now we’re all getting divorced. And now they’re all getting work done.
Mostly it’s just Botox, but it is a little disconcerting to find women you’ve known for years suddenly turn up looking not quite like themselves. Gone are the smile lines, gone are the crow’s-feet and gone is all the character and individuality.
I just don’t get it. Sure, I am not so happy with the wrinkles under my eyes, and the droop of my chin but I wouldn’t ever consider doing anything about it.
I visited a plastic surgeon for a story for the paper four years ago, and he said I needed no less than 12 jabs of Botox at $300 a pop. Luckily, there’s a discount for volume. “It’s fun, you’ll love it, all women want to be beautiful!” he coaxed me. “You owe it to yourself to look your best, don’t you?”
I never did follow his advice. Buying more expensive make-up and ensuring I don’t look at myself up close in mirrors in natural daylight is about as far as I go to look younger.
I am 44 not 84, so I do like to make an effort. But why isn’t that enough? The British survey also uncovers another interesting fact: that most women surveyed say they wouldn’t tell their friends and family what they had done.
Again, this sounds right. Most of my friends will admit to Botox after a few wines, but there are some who absolutely refuse to admit they’ve had any help at all. I don’t know who they think they’re fooling. Everyone knows what’s going on, but is too polite to say anything.
When you can no longer frown, and when your face looks three decades younger than your neck, it’s a sure sign something unnatural is going on.
Funnily enough, many of my friends who have regular Botox are naturally beautiful. The ones who don’t really need it are the ones who are doing it. Perhaps they are more sensitive to losing their looks over time. As someone who has never been considered any sort of beauty, it’s never really worried me. As I see it, there are a few different schools of the fantastic plastic.
There’s the Renée Zellweger (pictured) approach to plastic surgery that sees looking young as more important than looking like yourself.
There’s cat lady approach, where people just don’t know where to stop. Remember all those tabloid magazine covers showing Jocelyn Wildenstein with her freaky overdone cat’s eyes?
And there’s the ageing supermodel school, where women spend a lot of money and time to look exactly the same way they did 20 years ago when they were on the cover of These women get away with it because people are used to seeing them look expressionless and dumb.
I’m left wondering where this fear of ageing and relentless pursuit of self-improvement at all costs comes from.
As I see it, ageing is a privilege. Having a body that works, that is healthy and moves the way I want it to is something I never want to take for granted.
With breast cancer all around me, I have a renewed appreciation of something that is hardly ever celebrated until you lose it: health.
Give me good health over smooth skin any day. Blog with Susie at susieobrien.com.au, follow her on Twitter @susieob and Facebook.com/ NewswithSuse