Let’s face up to a face-off in this age of beauty

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - UP -

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

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