sure that I wasn’t alone in hoping that we might perhaps start to finally celebrate achievement and effort rather than appearance.
Imagine my shock then when, a couple of days ago, my very grounded and sensible friend told me what she had in mind for a 50th birthday present to herself. Rather dramatically and, to me, infinitely depressingly, she is splashing out on a face lift for herself. It seems she is fed up of looking at her “ageing, washed out skin and tired looking baggy eyes.” Clearly we are all in the same boat, as there are times I look into the mirror first thing in the morning, and barely recognise the old hag staring back at me. But the thought of cosmetic surgery seems so extreme, so something that other, slightly weird, people do, I have never even considered it.
Sadly, however, cosmetic surgery is becoming more and more common place. At a time when most industries are in decline, the cosmetic surgery industry is booming in both the UK and USA. Procedures like teeth whitening and Botox injections are so common place they are offered on almost every high street. There are bridal packages on offer where brides to be, who might once have been satisfied with a visit to the hairdresser and maybe a manicure, can now get full body makeovers so that they look perfect for their special day. Alarmingly, the makeover can include liposuction, breast implants and any other nips or tucks that may be required.
My friend’s argument is that, if something is bothering her and it is within her means to fix it, then why not? Sounds simple, I suppose, but it just doesn’t sit easily with me. She then pointed out that it’s not too much different to my own weakness for lotions and potions, all designed to leave my skin looking considerably younger whilst leaving my bank balance considerably lighter. In my friend’s opinion, if the motivation is the same what difference do the means make? She accused me of being hypocritical and maybe I am.
However, even if we discount the philosophical issue that we are pandering to society’s preoccupation with youth and consequently doing a disservice to our own more mature age group, the health implications alone, are enough to put me off. I can’t understand why anyone would choose to have an operation unless they need one. I would no doubt be the one in a million who has an adverse reaction to the anaesthetic or who ends up looking like the bride of Frankenstein when it all goes horribly wrong.
If I am being honest, I can see the appeal of some procedures. A woman at my gym had some sort of boob lift and ended up with the body you can vaguely remember having at eighteen. The sad truth is though, having eighteen year old boobs is not going to change the fact that you are pushing fifty, so what’s the point? Likewise with liposuction. I am sure anybody who is as greedy as I am, has entertained the fantasy, on that dreaded day when you can barely zip up your jeans. The reality is though, if I did have all the fat sucked out, I’m sure it wouldn’t take me too long to put it all back in there again. Rendering the whole procedure a big, fat waste of time. Better then to just stop eating the chocolate and drinking the wine for a while, it’s more than likely far less painful and definitely less costly.
I would hazard a guess that none of us are entirely happy with how we look and probably all imagine if we were a few pounds lighter or had a few less wrinkles our lives would somehow be better. However, that doesn’t mean we have to embark upon some mad merry-go-round pursuit of perfection which, chances are, won’t make one jot of difference to our lives. Some women, like my friend, say they have cosmetic surgery for themselves, in order to feel better about themselves. Wouldn’t it be more meaningful though to feel better about ourselves because we are kind, funny or intelligent? Other women claim to want to feel more attractive for their partners or potential partners but I don’t think these women give men enough credit. All of the men I know say they don’t give a hoot what women look like, preferring more sensible attributes like kindness, humour and intelligence. I believe them and what’s more any man who did care about a woman’s looks would be just as vacuous and tedious as the women who spend their lives chasing perfection.
I feel disheartened that so many people are opting to go down the cosmetic surgery route; it’s a sad reflection of a society that is all style over substance. It has led to an ideal of beauty that is so formulaic, it's hideously dull. We only have to look at mainstream films where all of the actresses are like interchangeable clones with their teeny little bodies and strange, shiny Botox faces.
I seriously hope that my friend changes her mind. I don’t know if I am being hypocritical but I do know that a few wrinkles seem like a small price to pay for being alive and healthy. Anyway, if you ask me, a bit of anti-gravity serum works just as well.