"Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats too noble to neglect. Deceived me into thinking I had something to protect. Good and bad, I define these terms quite clear, no doubt, somehow ... Ah, but I was so much older then I'm younger than that now" ~ Bob Dylan
This morning, while listening to my local radio station having a field day with Dylan's 50th anniversary of playing electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival, I was reading an article on Louise Cady-Fernandes' blog, Lines of Beauty, about this week's fascinating TIME magazine piece, Nip. Tuck. Or Else: Why You'll be Getting Cosmetic Procedures Even If You Don't Really Want To.
Everything from the cover photo to the subtitle had all my jingly flesh up in arms.
"In the U.S., doctors performed over 15 million cosmetic procedures in 2014, a 13% increase from 2011 and more than twice as many as in 2000 ... nearly $13 billion Americans spend on cosmetic procedures is for surgery - lipo and boob jobs are consistently the top moneymakers."
I would love to be able to respond calmly and say, "to each their own." But wait! The article takes aim at younger women ... planting a seed ... flashing a dangerous trend ...
"You're going to have to do it. And not all that long from now. Probably not a full-on, general-anesthesia bone shaving or muscle slicing ... But almost definitely some injections into your face. Very likely a session of fat melting in some areas and then possibly moving it to some other parts that could use plumping."
Channeling Grace Slick, I want to scream to young women: START A REVOLUTION! This must happen before flab takes hold of your senses and years start blowing away in the wind!
"I would have said getting your boobs done or tummy flattened is not feminist, and now I'm really not sure." ~ Jennifer Cognard-Black, a professor at St. Mary's College in Maryland
Whaaaaat? We burned training bras over less!
"Cosmetic surgery has become the new makeup."
Repeat after me: Taking a knife and poking needles in your face, neck or tummy is not akin to putting on make-up (toxic or not), and it's certainly not advancing feminism's empowering equality cause.
While my particular roadmap to aging has somewhat stabilized with a resolve to never, ever go under the knife, the irony is not lost in the lives of my friends, family and their daughters -- our daughters -- and the sons who love them. Many of you raised that sisterhood to embrace a healthy body image.
These gorgeous seamless creatures don't need to worry yet about aging's blemishes: crow's feet, skunk roots, marionette lines.
(Note to self for another article: Why do women take on animal and puppet characteristics as they age?)
Meanwhile, back at the "how to age gracefully" camp -- doctors, pharmaceutical companies, journalists and those aiming to make a buck off smart women's insecurities are marching into wrinkleless territory with vigorous assault weapons.
Here are a few:
- Let's start with the roots of our obsession. OK, hair dye is my obsession. You may want to push the mute button while a primal cry escapes from the tips of my silver locks. In the TIME article, I'm what the author calls a "natural ager." Why? Hair dye. Ever heard of PPD? Me either, until I starting worrying about what my head absorbed every time it slurped dye. Here's what I needed to know: Does hair dye cause cancer? Suspected, but inconclusive. Why? The FDA "does little to regulate ingredient safety, it has authorized the cosmetics industry to police itself through its Cosmetics Ingredient Review panel." Many chemicals in hair dye, like PPD (a coal-tar derivative), are banned in Germany, France, Sweden and other countries that actually do what we believe our elected officials should do, pass strong regulations to protect their constituents from those who would benefit financially from poisoning us.
- Moving below the scalp to above the neck (I loved Nora Ephron too much to venture into her province). Face lifts. These surgical procedures don't make women look more attractive or much younger. Think this is just my self-serving "natural aging" opinion? Here's a New York Times article citing a study in corroboration.
- Lastly, tummy tucks need a plain 'ol rebrand. Trying to take the stigma out of surgery, the industry has retooled the whole category to be "cosmetic enhancement." Enhancement sounds too much like warm, cuddly belly fat to me. I'm thinking, Chuck the Tuck!
Maybe I'm aiming too high. And maybe, just maybe, I should be focusing on aging's perky pick-me-ups, like finally paying off college loans, and gaining senior discounts. But we don't get to ripen softly just to keep quiet and go down without a fight. Dominique Browning from the Slow Love Life blog, told me: "There will be a backlash...mark my words!!"
A scholarly doctor I met recently on the train seemed unusually interested in my shiny silver hair. We discussed the latest "going gray" trend and I told him I was writing a book about the subject of silver hair, anti-aging, etc. He handed me his card, asking, "Why would anyone be anti-aging?"
Exactly. We start aging the day we are born. So, Non-Tuckers and Tuckers, for the sake of our daughters, can we at least agree that we are all age-positive?
Now, where's that cheetah-print "jaw bra?"