Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Age Before Beauty


Who ever thought the Sex and the City girls would be accused of being over the hill????
Granted, it's another medium altogether, but have a look at the article that came out this morning: http://movies.msn.com/movies/celebritybuzz?GT1=7701

My sister is always giving me stuff she buys to rejuvenate her skin. Now I'm not sure she's obsessed with looking younger-- personally, I think she just loves all the pretty, shiny little bottles and compacts and brushes. Who doesn't? Those Estee Lauder and Lancome and Clinique gifts don't walk onto millions of bathroom counters by themselves, you know. If I thought about it, I could probably get a complex of some kind. But. . . nah. What's in the mirror is what's in the mirror. And after all, it is just my sister.

Until recently.

It seems like "regeneration" and "looking years younger" are coming at me from every quarter these days. I just picked up one of my favorite sci-fi authors and his book was all about-- regeneration and becoming younger. Then I opened my browser and there was a whole spread of "famies" pictured before and after the "nip/tuck." Then I was walking through the family room-- at NOON, mind you-- and one of the national news shows had a tell-all piece on plastic surgery. Okay, enough's enough. I'll think about it.

As a woman and a writer "of a certain age," I began to wonder just how much my appearance affects what I do. At my age, have I still got the juice to write hot and steamy? At my age, should I be worrying about how I look in a bathing suit? At what age do I quit worrying about my appearance and just live? Ever?

Maybe it's all about attitude. Maybe it's the fact that looking younger in a mirror can make you behave a little differently, take on challenges you were too "tired" or "been there--done that" to consider before. Maybe it's about energy level and getting a boost from the inside out.

So, anyway, I started thinking about the inevitable. . . saggy aging. . . and wondered what I would/should do about it. Can I see myself getting a nip/tuck? Should I consider one of the non-surgical procedures that rejuvenate the skin? They now have acupuncture face lifts that apparently work rather well-- how about one of those? Or just spend more money of fancy creams and dermatology visits? How about the holistic route-- vitamins and wraps and massages?

Okay, a certain person who is very close to me had a face lift about three years ago, and it did her a world of good. She looks younger and feels better than she did staring at the wrinkles in the mirror. But it was something of a pain and she says she won't go through it again. I think she underestimated what it takes to recover from a surgery-- because, baby, it really is SURGERY. Don't let the "plastic" part fool you. So having seen all the ins and outs up close, I know what I'd really face, going that route. Not overly enthused at the prospect.

Plus: The average cost of facelift cosmetic surgery ranges from $6,000 to $15,000. Lots of money to spend on such a dicey effort. And what if something goes wrong? Think of poor Joan Van Ark. . .

But if I look better and seem to be younger and more vital, might that effect the way people-- yes even industry publishing people-- see me? Would they think I was a more "bankable prospect" if I seemed ten years younger? Does physical appearance affect whether they put you out in the public eye? Does it affect whether they're willing to invest in you for a long run?

Yikes. Scaring myself, here.

And would any of this matter to my readers?

I'm not considering plastic surgery, but I think the mini-stuff done on an outpatient basis bears some looking into. However, I think one of the best things a woman can do for herself is lose excess weight and do whatever exercise she can enjoy. I'm trying that first. . . then when I see what's left of me, I'll decide where to go from there.

What do you think? If you have the money, is plastic surgery worth it? How do you plan to age? Does it concern you, or are you happy settling into grannyhood. . . with or without the grandkids? Do you think looking older has an effect on your career? Does how a writer looks influence how you see their work?


Helen Brenna said...

Boy, Betina. I've been wondering a lot these days about whether or not my being middle aged and just starting a writing career will affect my progress. I'm curious to read what everyone thinks.

Lately, I've noticed some sagging along my jawline and now "get" how people can choose the plastic surgery option. And when you're an actor/actress, appearance is so important. Hard to say the impact on a writer's career.

I would like to age gracefully, but I don't think that's going to happen. I think I'll be kicking and screaming the whole way!

Michele Hauf said...

Yikes! Is that an actual unretouched pic of Van Ark? Dear me.

About five years ago I developed this brown spot at the corner of my eye. Big. About the size of a dime. I knew it was an age spot. I bothered me. I wanted it gone because a brown spot meant I was old.
Well, I don't care anymore. Within the past few years, I've realized that it doesn't matter what's on the outside. It's what's in the brain and what you tell yourself. If you don't like something then your body will react in kind. If you love what you see, no matter what, then life is good.
So, no surgery for me. Ever. Though, i will admit the gray hair is getting old. I may have to dip into the dye again soon. :-)

Cindy Gerard said...

I don't think that many of us like the idea of losing our youth, even though, like death and taxes, it's inevitable. Still, I'm a kicker and a screamer and fighting it with my limited arsenal of face creams :o) Plastic surgery is just too risky and pricey. In the meantime, I'm one of those who tries all the creams and takes all the vitamins and, like Helen, stews over the sagging jaw line. I've had micro derm abrasion done on my face - feels like a cat with a sandpaper tongue licking your skin. It doesn't do anything about the gravity thing :o) but I think my skin MIGHT look a little better. Who knows. I'd love to hear from someone who has had things like rystaline (sp) and chemical peels because admitedly I'm curious.
So shoot me. I'm vain.:o)
But in the long run, when all is said and done, I feel so fortunate to feel as good as I do and to be able to do the things I do. I'll still keep up the search for the fountain of youth, though. Who knows ... something cheap and safe may come up and if it does, I'll probably check it out.
Acupuncture face lifts?? Hum. That's a new one

Prairie Sunshine said...

Sandy Huseby here...

Hey, I've earned this laugh lines! And the cry ones, too. Will stay with my real face, too much plastic in the world as it is.

Stopped by yesterday and read with great interest the Belle Books news. You go, Southern belles.

Deb mentioned authors reading their audio books, and this is way off the usual subject of this site, but if you haven't yet seen Matt Taibbi's (http://youtube.com/watch?v=ku8JRW3cz1E) Youtube--his voiceover--for his new release, it's both a hoot and some good mktg instruction.

Prairie Sunshine said...

oooops...these laugh lines...

yes, indeedy, life's frazzly....

Betina Krahn said...

Helen, one of the experts I read said the first really big sign of aging is the jawline. That of all the parts that age, the most telling is actually the jaws (jowls). My family is given to developing "wattles". . . big floppy necks. Ewwwwwwwww. Is a double chin a precursor to the wattle? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Michele, I have a couple of "sun spots" myself. Went to a dermatologist to have them "burned off" with liquid nitrogen. Guess what-- they're still there. The doc suggested I try a laser next time. Gee, thanks. Instead, I'm trying that Olay "regenerist" stuff. . . that smooths out the dark spots. It seems to help more than the dermo guy did!

Cindy, I'm with you on the kicking and screaming. I thought I might try a "dermabrasion" or whatever it's called. You think it worked? As for the acupuncture face lift. . . the price is $1,100 and is done over time. . . like eight or ten visits. The pictures I've seen show considerable less sagginess in faces and (Heads up, Helen!) jaw lines. They say it needs to be repeated every couple of years or so. Still, you could do that for thirty years and still just approach the cost of one good face lift. There's a doc down here in Sarasota who specializes in it.

Betina Krahn said...

Hey, Sandy!

I'm with you on the laugh lines. Don't think I'd want to get rid of those. The bags over the eyes, however. . . I could say goodbye to those without much regret!

Debra Dixon said...

I would probably consider some simple plastic surgery to "freshen" my face but I'd be very careful about the surgeon. I hate most of the work I see on the celebrities. It's like they sacrifice character and who they are to look younger and they just look like charicatures of themselves!

And growing old gracefully is very cool, if you're the woman whose body is cooperating with the the graceful part. LOL!

flip said...

Like I post on my website. Forget my inner child, I am trying to embrace my outer crone. BEG.

Did anyone ever see the Simpsons episode in which Home had plastic surgery. In the end, Homer came to the conclusion that no one should get plastic surgery because the results aren't very good. But the surgeons finally get plastic surgery right, everyone should get it. I don't like the results of facelifts and brow lifts. I really hate the trend of men getting face lifts. I think middle aged men are hot.

Honestly, if I had the bucks, I would get fraxel laser and thermage to rejuvenate and tighten my skin. These treatments won't treat my smile lines or wrinkles in my forehead. But I don't mind my wrinkles. I just want to get rid of the jowls.

Betina Krahn said...

Yep, Deb, growing old gracefully is cool. Unfortunately, we don't have enough examples of that in the public eye. And I do think a lot of it is staying interested and active in life. . . and eating well.

Flip, I like the idea of those laser things. . . tightening things up while leaving the major laugh lines and such. Those pesky jowls. . .

And yeah, middle aged men ARE hot!

Cindy Gerard said...

Betina - I forgot to address your question about whether or not a youthful look or lack of has any affect (effect??) on a writer's career. I've also pondered over that. I mean - you want your publisher to think you're worth investing in, right, that you have a lot of time and books left in you. Once, with a group of industry professionals on the publishing side, I mentioned my grandchildren. One editor's knee-jerk reaction was, "oh, you shouldn't tell that." She immediately retracted it with a laugh, but I got the very distinct impression that I would have been wiser to underplay the 'granny' role due to the age issue. I've often thought of her remark and can't help but feel that there might be a bit of an age bias even in the writing biz.

lois greiman said...

What I find interesting is that we somehow think facelifts are shameful. I mean, no one wants to tell. I'm not sure what that's about. But there is a definite stigma. But there's a stigma against aging too. So hmmmm. But yeah, if I weren't so cheap, I would consider having some stuff lifted, shaped, groomed. Maybe a couple of things would even be removed. :) Exercise is free though and supposedly good for you, so I'm afraid that's the route for me. But I exercise outside, so the sun only makes me more wrinkly. Hmmm.

Don't dye your hair, Hauf. You're an inspiration for me. And you look cool.

Betina Krahn said...

Yes, Cindy, I do believe there may be some bias in the industry toward younger folk. . . especially with the young editors-- whom SOME WRITERS (none I know, of course) call "Baby Editors." Not that they edit babies. . .

Anyway, Cindy, I think you definitely got an honest reaction from that editor. . . I think there are unwritten rules and prejudices about writers who have been around a long time. I'm rethinking saying very much about my grands to editors of any age.

But as for readers. . . as long as you're writing good books, they don't seem to mind as much-- unless you're writing erotica. . . which some seem to connect with your own sexuality. So if you're young and hot, you'll write young and hot. Does that follow? Does that matter?

Debra Dixon said...


I'm going to head over to hear the voice-over and I'll forward the link to DebS. Thanks!

Helen Brenna said...

Flip mentioned fraxel laser surgery - that looks like the way to go. Difficult to make a mistake and much less expensive.

Plus, you don't have to go under general to get it done. A couple valium will probably suffice! lol

Betina Krahn said...

Helen, I'm all for less anesthetic! I'm going to check into it!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Embrace the outer crone--I love it, Flip!

I've thought about getting a lift. Mama had it done twice. The first time it was after weight loss, and Daddy was having it done after a heart attack--mid forties and the bags it left under his eyes were incredible--but it was basically free because Daddy was retired military (the benefits were good in those days). The second time for Mama was after Daddy died--like 2 years--and the stress had undone the first lift. Anyway, it made her feel better, so it was worth it to her.

But back then they didn't peel your face on the way they do now. I couldn't go under knowing what they were about to do.

But I would love to lose the turkey neck...

Hi Sandy! (Sandy's laugh lines are downright pretty. I've shared lots of that laughter with her over the years.)

Betina Krahn said...

Hey, Kathy, maybe we can get a two-for-one on the neck thing! LOL!

What do you think? Is there ageism in publishing? Have you felt any of what Cindy mentioned. . . being told to downplay the "granny" stuff?

Playground Monitor said...

Plastic surgery? Uh... one look at Priscilla Pressley sorta answers that question. There are so many bad face jobs in Hollywood these days. These women should have the funds to go to a real plastic surgeon, not a quack who hangs out a shingle and advertises himself as one (and sadly, you can do precisely that).

I'm just going to use my face creams (trying the new Nutritioniste that supposed to reverse sun damage), wear a hat outdoors and age as gracefully as I can. I'm not much for surgery or needles. Unless it's restorative, there'll be no plastic surgery for me.


Prairie Sunshine said...

Troubles aren't just in Hollywood -- a local [Fargo] plastic surgeon was bounced from practice this spring because he was drinking on the job...and between the "jobs."

Too volatile a business for me.

Weren't those turkey necks why they invented turtlenecks, Kathy? And big pearls, of course!

Virginia Lady said...

I'm not a fan of elective surgery. I had a biopsy done when I was 13 and they messed up my shoulder forever. Not about to go for vanity's sake.

I think battling aging the natural way is the way to go. We need to accept that people get older and they look it.

We also need to get enough sleep, exercise, vitamins, etc and drink plenty of fluids, and not all alcoholic ones. :-) I think we're aging more obviously because we don't take care of ourselves.

I think how you look does effect things, but not necessarily in a negative way. There's something to be said for age and wisdom after all.

As for a writer's looks influencing me? It doesn't really, other than to make it painfully clear that I can be a published writer too. They're just normal people, after all.