Friday, January 29, 2010

Face It

It's the question whispered at my exercise class. The question women talk about in hushed voices. The question women talk about at lunch. The comparisons, the notes, the names of doctors.

The question? What work are we having done? Or, more specifically, what exactly am I going to do about this nearly fifty-year-old face of mine?

I know, I know. I'm not very organized. I'm supposed to have a plan - a highly detailed plan. For my upcoming birthday I should be giving myself the gift of an eye lift. I should be on a schedule of botox and fillers by now. This is serious business - the avoidance of aging - and a full-time job. I need to get with the program.

Ever since these conversations started, and with five older sisters they started a long time ago, it's been like I live on a different planet. I just don't get it. I have to understand an underlying philosophy to get a concept. I have to want to look like a younger version of myself to want to have work done, right? So, I'd have to have had a heydey when I was younger, when I looked so great, when my looks were peaking and men were chasing me in the street. 

The problem is I never had a heydey. I can't look at any point in my life earlier than my forties and say, That's how I want to look forever because first I had a congenital problem with my jaw that required major jaw surgery at twenty-nine, and then I struggled with my weight till I was forty. Funny chin plus 211 pounds does not equal heydey. It equals tent-like dresses and comparisons to Jay Leno.

I also have to understand a few other things before pursuing treatment. As mortal creatures don't we all want  to get old? Like we don't want to die young, right? Is there really any chance in the world of me being eighty one day and not looking it?

I have this horrible fear of walking around with hair that looks like a twenty-year-old's when I'm sixty, or ripped up jeans when I'm seventy. At fifty, of course, I have to goodbye to my youth, but I don't have to say goodbye to beauty or looking good (or hair dye). Maybe I'm just going to look really, really good - for a fifty-year-old.

So what am I going to do about this fifty-year-old face of mine? Nothing. I like it.

Did you have a "heydey" when you were younger or are you, like me, an extremely late bloomer? Have you encountered "plastic surgery conversations" and do they make you feel uncomfortable or empowered?

(Thanks to Big Little Wolf and her intriguing post on Heidi Montag's surgeries for sparking this.)


  1. Lord, I am too broke to do t hat.
    I did have a six month hey day when I looked really good.
    It was brief.
    I still look good, young.
    The only think I might consider is the turkey neck thing.
    I don't want one.
    laugh lines and such...not such a problem.
    saggy boobs.
    At 70, who am I going to show them to. lol.
    At some point we should be happy with our body.
    a deliberate life

  2. reality check girls - 45 over

    we consider plastic surgeries not for us
    for a younger us
    it is for our husbands
    they will love us better if we didn’t
    walk around with those saggy boobs and huge grandma bras…
    how about that turkey neck that makes us look twenty years older
    and deep frowns that attract
    “you look sad today…is everything okay…“
    not to mention those bold hair spots that
    some of my girlfriends are screaming over
    forget about hair extensions…hair implants are the better choice…
    and the O My God that loooosssseee baby belly… no husband is waiting to caress or so very softy

    so hey, do it, why not, if you have the $$$$ and no high expectations of 20 at 50

    go for it - - - I did
    I love it - - - so does he

  3. I worry, from time to time, if I am passing my prime with extra weight and dark circled eyes. I also think wrinkles are beautiful and feel sad when people want to erase them (surgically- slowing down with face cream isn't too bad). I love what Victor Frankl said about age meaning we've passed through the trials and youth meaning the trials are still ahead.

    I must admit that after 6 kids I look slightly permapregnant and, if I lose the weight and the pouch is still there I would consider having the muscles retightened. I live in horror of being asked if I'm pregnant. It has happened twice (unwarranted) in my life so far.

  4. Hoo-boy. I know. Let me say that this Christmas, there must have been a helluva coupon for boob jobs, because I know three women who got one from Santa.

    I have this line that runs like a crater across my forehead. So I Botoxed it. I was rewarded with Vulcan eyebrows for 4 months. But damn, I hate that crater...

    My mother has had 6 plastic surgeries. Her face looks like it's made out of ceramic. SHE is my warning to myself.

    But then I look in the mirror sometimes and think: Dang.

  5. Yeah, I am totally with both of my Anons (one is Chris) about that turkey neck. I already have a little turkey arm thingy and I'm not happy about it. You just wake up one day and there's crepey where once there was firm flesh! Can they do a neck lift?

    And speaking of husbands, Anon2, why do they always get to age so badly without worrying about anything? They gain weight, get gray, bald, whatever, and no problem! While we agonize over every line!

    Thanks Chris, as usual for your funny perspective and thank you Anon2, for the points you made. I think every woman should do what feels right to them to feel beautiful.

  6. Charlotte, very interesting point about the dark circles. I always feel like if I just got enough sleep first of all, that would really help (and you're way younger than me!). And I do slather on creams and magic elixers galore!

    About the stomach, urg. I remember when I had my daughter and during my pregnancy no one seemed to care ask me about being pregnant, but the minute I had her, suddenly people asked me when I was due and I no longer was!

  7. TKW, I know about boob jobs - I live in Scottsdale! But it does leave all the flat chested bras for me! I've got a permanent accordion wrinkle in my forehead I blame on my former employer (the leaving was hard, what can I say?). What I need to do is stay away from my 10000 magnification mirror, that's all I know!

  8. Shoot. My comment went to outerspace.

    I agree with you, age with your body, not against it.

  9. Amber, I told my daughter tonight that I'd worked hard for this face. She thought I meant preserving it, but I said that I meant that it had been through a lot with me. Of course, now I've raised a radical!

  10. I gave up coloring my hair a couple years ago. The last dye job was June of 2008. From a distance, it looks like highlights but it is gray. I had a friend, when we were first getting to know one another, say he liked it. He knew what he was getting with me. I started to go gray almost 25 years ago when I was 25. I had a younger worker then tell me I earned that gray hair. Since the youngest of the six kid is 15, I am sure I have earned what I have on my head now. LOL!

    I have never given thoughts to cosmetic surgery and definitely not at a young age. I am almost 50 (a year and a half til the big day) and still do not think I could do that.

  11. I woke up yesterday and noticed that my droopier eyelid, the one on the right (the side I sleep on, smashing it into the pillow for eight hours out of 24) had actually drifted all the way down, parallel to my eyelashes on the edge. I thought "I wonder if Botox can lift something an entire two inches?" Then, to make matters worse, I met up with some old high school friends -found recently on Facebook - and saw some photos of me way back when - not a wrinkle in sight, thirty pounds ago, definite heyday period. Thank God for dimly lit bars and margaritas!

  12. Nicki, Everytime my gray hair is about an inch long (and it's just about 30%) my kids flip out. Living with kids = living with critics in the house! But I do discuss this hair thing a lot with my friends. Are we supposed to keep dyeing our hair when we're 80? It's really crazy that in our society it's considered a great act of rebellion to let your hair be its natural color - gray!

  13. Lisa, that is so funny. Can Botox lift? I thought it just ironed out! The morning face, I know.

  14. Well I'm guessing you know my feelings on this one! But they're a tad more ambivalent than you might think. The fact is, try competing in the "singles market" in this country when you are 40+ or (God help us) 50+ and you start to understand the reality (sans reality TV) that many women are facing.

    So I certainly understand why women put themselves through these painful, at times risky and very expensive (elective) surgeries and procedures. Our culture is demanding it, increasingly, and at increasingly younger ages, allthewhile positioning a certain pseudo-youthfulness as the norm. So showing NO traces of aging and a shift in perception of what a woman "should" look like is putting pressure on women to erase outward signs of a natural process.

    I understand it. I also look at the changes in my body and face and remember a time before pregnancies and stresses that have left their mark. But we are all being devalued by the pressure to look plastic, and to some extent, to be plastic.

    As for those women (and men) who say it is a matter of individual choice, I agree, but that's too superficial a response. I agree, but. . . As momre and more women (reinforced by media) feel the need to look a certain way, there is a gradual (and insidious) influence. What is considered attractive or even acceptable is shifting. And we take a heavy hit in the self-esteem department.

    I also believe it must be more painful to age when a woman was gorgeous "in her prime." Women use their beauty as power (I have nothing against it), and women enjoy the sense of being beautiful (though many women don't feel their own beauty). To experience that fading, and the loss of attention (and powerlessness) as a result must be terribly sad. Let's face it - as we age, we come more invisible, and women are already more invisible. Double whammy.

    So - I don't think it's cut-and-dry (pun intended), but I think we need to think through the issue carefully and revisit. We are encouraging invasive elective surgeries that scream and perpetuate all the wrong values.

    OK. Need to go check my calendar for that next dye job.


  15. Don't you just adore that Kitch's mom is her warning to herself? Oy, I can't imagine 6 surgeries. I can't even imagine one. Aging is what we do, in heart and body. Can't turn back time, even with ripped jeans and hair dye, right?

    Another superiffic post, Linda. I love coming here!

  16. Amen! I love your point about few of us really having that magical Holy Grail of beauty to imagine going back to. I don't worry too much about aging, but, when I do, I remind myself of the lessons and the kids that have come with the scars, the gray hairs, and the less-than-rock-hard belly - reflecting on what I have that I value rather than what I have that I'd like to give up.

  17. BLW, It's such an interesting idea that our ideal of beauty is now one that actually doesn't exist, that may be made up of the Heidi Montags of the world - fake boobs and fillers and eyelash implants, so that we're judging ourselves against a justifiably impossible ideal. Of course it's impossible - it doesn't exist in nature! So fascinating if it weren't also so sad. And my birthday moves ever closer...

  18. Sarah, the visual of Kitch's mom stretched out from those surgeries - yikes! And when I think of the surgeries I've had because I had to have them, miserable, awful, and sometimes life-threatening, I think, really, I just can't have surgery that isn't absolutely necessary.

  19. Kristen, I agree totally. The older I get, the more I become the me I've always wanted to be. I become more and more myself over time, including my outside reflecting the life of my inside.

  20. Ok- I must chime in...ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? I am single and am 51..there is no way I am interested in any man who does not want to caress a "soft tummy" Geeze like they are so buff?? I guess we could give up the Viagra and I will get a tummy tuck?? I think if we are blessed to get to the age of 51 and cannot see beyond and yes behind the wrinkles then really who are we??

    Do what is in your control to be healthy!! that is what is important. From a cancer survicor (me) to a brain tumour survivor (Linda) I am hoping we know who we are. Luv your blog as always!!

  21. Well, dll, you know how I feel about this since we just talked about it on the phone yesterday! Really, I'm not willing to alter my body to make a man desire me more and, like you said, having lived through a brain tumor, I'm not about to have surgery just because I feel like it. Thanks for chiming in!