Friday, May 04, 2007

Shape Shifting

My son Everett was in California last week and e-mailed me the following LA Times article by columnist Meghan Daum. (I love Daum's wry sense of humor!) To read the full text, click here.

Botox rolls back the clock, but do you want to go there?

April 21, 2007

. . . . My big problem with Botox and other anti-aging procedures is not that they're shallow, or that their corollary is that too many of the moms on TV are played by actresses already so young you'd think every kid on a sitcom was the result of a teen pregnancy. It's that all of it has succeeded in extending the self-consciousness of youth into middle age, effectively undermining our ability to come to terms with our looks and concentrate on more pressing matters (for instance, foreign policy or, barring that, our lower backs). Because we're so versed in what a drag it is getting old, we seem to have developed a collective amnesia about the chaos, humiliations and downright stupidity that comes with being young.

Sure, our faces might look great when we're 25, but what about the entry-level jobs, the revolving roommates, the relationships founded entirely upon takeout Indian food and mediocre sex? (These are all hypotheticals, honest.) Though you wouldn't know it from watching "Friends," being in your 20s isn't all it's cracked up to be. As nice as it is to have your whole life ahead of you, it's somewhat less nice to be broke, condescended to and confused about everything from career choices to personal stye. . . .

I realize that the idea behind getting Botox is to preserve our original selves, but anyone who's honest about the whole enterprise knows that the altered face is less "preserved" than it is brand new.

And that's why there's something so drearily adolescent about the whole thing. Just when many of us are finally starting to know ourselves as adults, we're expected to start shape shifting again. Like the teenager who walks into a vintage clothing store and suddenly decides to trade all her Gap clothes for Betty Boop dresses (again, a hypothetical), we get pushed by the easy availability of this youth-preserving technology to second-guess ourselves and spend time and money deciding what we should look like.

At 16, that's healthy (if cringe-inducing later on.) At 40, it's a sacrifice of our God-given right to let nature take its course so we can get on to more interesting things. . . .

Amen to that!

Note: The picture at right shows me with my 84 year old mother. My mom colors her hair and wears lipstick, but she's never had Botox or plastic surgery. She looks her age (as do many of the men and women I've interviewed), but that doesn't mean she isn't beautiful.

The public-domain photograph at the top of this posting is of a 19th century painting by Viktor Vasnetsov titled "Tsarevna Frog" (a frog metamorphoses into a princess).

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