Oh, the joys of plastic surgery—the pleasure of seeing your sagging jawline sharp again; your eyes with no bags under or over them; your breasts upright and shapely. But am I the only one who feels I’ve become part of a reverse fairy tale? Not one in which an evil fairy turns a beautiful young girl into a crone, but one in which a crone is transformed into a beautiful young girl, or at least a good-looking, middle-aged one. Except there’s a catch. The young girl still has the brain, organs, and energy level of the older lady she really is.
Instead of reacting with delight, as I used to, to the comment: “Oh you can’t be 55, or 68, or nowadays, 76,” I now feel a twinge of dread. How can I convince my doctor that I’m really a near-octogenarian with all the aches and pains that usually accompany my advanced years?
Not that I regret these deceptive “improvements.” I’ve had all of them except the breast implants. When I was in my twenties, left with stretched, oversized breasts—a result of teenage obesity–I was a pioneer in its opposite: breast reduction. Truly a weight off my shoulders.
The other “procedures,” as they are tactfully referred to by their practitioners, came later, as the years began to take their inevitable toll on my face. And needless to say, unless I look at an old photo, I can’t even remember what the real color of my hair was.
I have a theory: Many people who have cosmetic surgery—–most of them women–are not, as they are often assumed to be, vain at all. That even goes for such young and beautiful examples of serial plastic surgeries as Heidi Montag, though I admit that she’s truly an extreme case. Like me, many in fact are obsessed with the idea that they are hopelessly unattractive; that only surgical intervention can change that. And despite what the studies say about how you can’t change the person inside, no matter how much you change the outside, I and many others do feel different afterwards. Our real or perceived outer blemishes removed, we feel rejuvenated; more confident; less, not more, preoccupied with our appearances.
But I am increasingly aware that, as the saying goes, “You can’t fool Mother Nature,” for old age attacks the lifted and the unlifted equally. And here’s where the blessings of yesterday can turn into the headaches of today. “What, you can’t walk five blocks without feeling out of breath?” my doctor asked recently, shooting me a skeptical “give me a break” look. I’m not saying I need a visit to the cardiologist; just that maybe something internal was going awry.
Even when I confess to my operations, my doctors often continue to treat me as though I were at least ten to fifteen years younger. It’s a kind of reverse ageism: their refusal to concede that the youthful exterior may not match the aging interior.
Now I’ve reached the curious point at which my pleasure in looking younger is tainted with a suspicion that, ultimately, it may not be in my best interests.
So for the sake of my health would I have an aging operation–a Brad Pitt/Billy Button transformation?
You can bet I wouldn’t.