Moving to Texas and the Bible Belt was a massive culture shock for this Colorado native gal 3 years ago. The make-up, the hair, the boob jobs, the botox! It is so pervasive here. My husband and I joke that people know I am not from here just by my cup size. Seriously, I know women who already had perfectly sized and functional breasts who financially strained their families just to get a boob job because they were insecure about themselves. In Texas it’s not just for the trophy wives and the rich to spend hoards of money on aesthetic alterations. I’m sad for them and society that they didn’t realize they were already perfect just the way they were and that it took physical alterations to boost their self-worth. But that’s not what I’m blogging about. If you need a boob job to gain the confidence to let your inner light shine and can afford one, go for it. Seriously. Lord knows we need more empowered women, we really do.
The spark months ago that got me on this idea for a post was a lecture that I sat in by a Dermatologist at a Women’s forum. The take home message was ultimately that if we women don’t want wrinkles we should all botox our faces ASAP, oh and don’t go to tanning beds (that bit I concur on). Because you see, wrinkles are a side effect of repeated expressions of real emotions. So to prevent the recurrent insult to your skin’s integrity, you should selectively paralyze all the muscles in your face that help you create the expression of your emotions leading to the wrinkles. If you can’t fully smile with joy you don’t get those wrinkles at the sides of your mouth, or the crow’s feet wrinkles near your eyes if you’re someone who smiles with their eyes like me. Or if you can’t show your surprise, or worry, or concern, then you don’t get those lines in your forehead. Rather, you really should just be expressionless and still and look pretty. And to do that you need recurrent botox!
Admittedly, I am sensitive to this because part of why my patients really love me (other than the being crazy smart) is frankly because I do show emotions. I empathize deeply with them and everything about me, from my facial expressions to my tone, shows them I share in their joys as well as their grief and pain. I definitely couldn’t do that without my face creating some epic wrinkles. It got me thinking……do we really want a world where everyone paralyzes their ability to show emotion for the sake of wrinkle prevention and looking younger than they really are? I personally don’t. But then I got busy and cooled off and forgot to write this post.
Until I saw this article post on twitter by an aesthetic plastic surgeon. It’s titled, “A tummy tuck or facelift at 80? Why not, more seniors say.” Ohhhhh, yaaaaasss. Let this Geriatrician tell you why the F not.
First of all, the philosophical reasons:
1) Everyone dies and our physical bodies literally decompose.
2) What lives on after we’re gone is not if people recall that when you died at age 90 you appeared to be only 40 but rather if you lived a life of love and left a legacy of such behind.
3) It is the ultimate waste of money (due to number one, physical appearance is fleeting), and there are about a zillion better ways you could spend your wealth in your 70ies and up. For example, save for the care you will need to hire when you are debilitated and demented. Or spend on meaningful experiences and memories with your loved ones. Or pay it forward to future generations of children and persons who are in need and should have an entire lifetime ahead of them.
4) It is not helping the already problematic cultural issues we have with ageism and female empowerment. We need to learn to accept the inevitable with grace and wisdom, and if as a society we can start to do this, less women will feel their worth or happiness is dependent on physical appearance and more will speak out with their needed voices. Wow this might be getting too deep for people.
You get the picture (I hope).
Now for the Medical Reasons Why Not:
1) The older you get, the heavier toll and more risky general anesthesia is. If you have even undiagnosed cognitive issues such as Mild Cognitive Impairment or Dementia, anesthesia is a fast track for a new lower baseline of worsened memory. Save that hit for a surgery that could actual do something for you medically.
2) When you get one of the many ailments that old age brings, you will not give a dang about your smooth face. It’s kinda like childbirth. Women don’t care who sees their birth canals in the moments they’re pushing a baby out, they just care that the baby gets out safely. When you do get one of the inevitable things that will take your mortal life (and it’s rarely swift), you mostly only care about being free of pain, making sure those you love know you love them, and existing with the help you need to achieve the first two things.
3) There are many medical reasons to not waste your money on cosmetic surgery and procedures in older age, however I will concede there are some instances where it is helpful. Anytime it helps your functionality, it’s worth considering. For example, there’s a strong chance based on my genetics and sun exposure that if I live long enough my eyelids will droop enough to cover my eyes. Sight is important. I’m allergic to adhesives (butterfly bandaids are a good hack for this). If there’s a low risk procedure I can afford so that I can see without the obstruction of my droopy lids, that would make sense.
If you really don’t want to have wrinkles, avoid sun damage early on with regular spf lotion and steer clear of all tobacco. As for me, I’m proud of my wrinkles and my greying hair. They are proof that even for someone as young as I am, I have lived and am living a full life. And I’m glad that I haven’t botox paralyzed my face. My many patients with hearing trouble can see in my expressions how much I care, and love, and want to help.
I just wished more people, women in particular, could see what I see in between the lines on our faces. Oh and also, other than just the cost, who seriously has time for the kind of maintenance overly caring about your appearance takes? Unless you are a super model or an actress for your career/income, hours of doing hair and makeup, regular botox, recovering and time for any plastic surgery, etc all are money and time warps that take away from our ability to contribute to our families, our careers, and our societies with our minds. I’m all for self-care and social pampering like pedicures that builds your social ties. But frankly, trying to look 60 when you’re 80 by paying 20K or more to a cosmetic surgeon is frankly taking it too far. It’s BS, just say no.