Face Lift – Am I Ready?

Don’t try this if you remember watching Howdy Doody in elementary school. Unless you’re very brave. Lay a magnifying mirror on the table. Look down. If what’s hanging between your lips and your neck doesn’t cause some innate gene to unconsciously move your hands under your ears to pull the skin upwards from your chin, then you and I are wired very differently.

Up till a decade or so ago I still believed that cosmetic surgery was a slightly shameful activity practiced on self-absorbed, conceited women by doctors paid to slice into human bodies in the name of beauty. Laughter never reached the eyes of the first women I knew who had “work” done, and the furrow of sympathy, a part of all my friend’s faces, was missing from their foreheads. It took a while to realize that that younger version of me wasn’t seeing the whole picture. As I “matured,” I understood the female obsession with appearance isn’t sick… it’s a perennial human concern. From the moment we pierce our ears and put on nail polish, we are always changing our appearance.

When I get together with my friends we love gossiping about who’s done what. A few have had their eye lids lifted, a couple had collagen injections and chemical peels and the one who had liposuction had the fat that was suctioned out, condensed, purified and injected into her cheeks. None of them were ever unattractive. The fact is, sans sags and bags, they simply look great for their age. Each is beyond satisfied with the body part she had surgery on, and, not that life is ever hunky dory, (the fact I used that expression makes me a candidate for each of the above procedures) but each displays a definite  boost to her self esteem.

As more people choose to defy the ravages of time with surgical alterations, who wants you to notice and who doesn’t, can be a rough call. “Your skin looks beautiful” is always safe. And “Have you lost weight?” is just about code for, “Who did your eyes?”   I would never comment on a man’s absence of crow’s feet or suddenly vanished spare tire, somehow feeling they’re even more sensitive to the stigma of looking older. I figure the only time it’s safe to ask, “Have you had something done?” is when you know for sure he hasn’t.

So here’s the question… if I decide to change how I look, am I hiding who I am… or am I altering my face to fit how I feel inside? Will  the result be a real-er me or a faker me? Will I be revealing… or concealing… my true self? On those days when I walk down the street and I feel invisible, if I have cosmetic surgery, will I reappear? The truth is now that biology is no longer destiny, I don’t feel like looking forward to a future where I look like the past. Maybe if I could take my face back to the first Bush administration, (not that I was ever thrilled looking in the mirror then), my spirits will soar. Then again, visions of Latoya Jackson and Kenny Rogers fill my head. Mmmmmm. I’ll keep you posted.

Marcia Byalick

Marcia Byalick

Marcia's written three novels, three self-help books and dozens of essays for women’s magazines. She’s taught memoir writing, wrote for the Long Island section of The New York Times, and served as the content editor of beinggirl.com

  1 comment for “Face Lift – Am I Ready?

  1. October 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Not so sure I am with you on this. I am concerned with wrinkles, but want women to focus on the “wrinkles in their financial future.”

    You see,we women live longer than men. That does not mean we need Botox, in my book. It means we need more money than men. So we need a “face lift for our finances.”

    So I suggest that women take the money they would spend (or charge on their credit cards) for a face lift and invest it in themselves. Put that money to work to fund their financial future.

    Women are not the only ones who have saved too little. Men have saved too little.It’s a general problem in America today, especially among Baby Boomers. (The average or median amount in a retirement account (called a 401K)) is $67,000).

    But since we live longer, we women have to have enough money to pay for everything we need today and tomorrow. Where will we get that money? Well, not from the surgeon who gleefully deposits your tidy sum in his account.

    Think carefully and strategically about the wrinkles in your finances, as well as your visage.

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