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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Is beauty in the eye of the scalpel holder?

I admit, when I turned 45 I went to see a cosmetic surgeon. Every night I was looking in the mirror wishing I could pull the skin under my eyes back a little bit and staple it in place. I wanted to get a second opinion from a professional, so I booked an appointment. I didn't tell my husband because I knew he wouldn't agree. I didn't think I needed a lot of work done. I wasn't looking for a complete facelift. Just a nip and tuck here and there.

The doctor came in the room and put the magnifying glass over my face. He examined all my fine lines and wrinkles. He suggested I should have an eye lift, just as a preventative measure, maybe pull my cheeks back just a little bit, it wouldn't hurt to have a little neck lift done and we could finish it off by plumping up my lips with injections. It was quite a blow to my ego. I thought my face was fine. I left the office a disappointed because I was counting on this doctor to tell me I looked great for my age and didn't need any work at all. On the way home I almost rear-ended a car while I was examining the bags under my eyes in the rearview mirror. I decided to leave my face alone.

The funny thing is, I asked the doctor how many women my age came in for a consultation and he said we were his main target audience. I then asked how many women bring their husbands to these appointments and he said it's very rare for husbands to come to the appointment. A asked why, he said, because I've never met a husband who agreed their wife needed cosmetic surgery. He said "Husbands are bad for business."

So why do we do it? I don't disagree with plastic surgery. If I had the money I'd be across between Joan Rivers and Dolly Parton. If money was no object, I'd have everything nipped, tucked, sucked and stapled back in place. I think plastic surgery is a good thing. I had a friend who had what is referred to as a "Witches nose." She had the nickname "Witchy Poo" since kindergarten. Her nose became the main focus of her life. She had spent her life trying to hide it, cover it and God forbid if you took a picture of it. When she was in her 30s, she had a nose job. It completely changed her life. She was way more outgoing, she was open to relationships and within six months of her surgery she met her husband. Her life completely changed. The real problem was her self-esteem. It was as plain as the nose on her face. The nose job gave her back her self-confidence. I think it was the best money she ever spent.

Every 15 minutes, there is a celebrity on TV telling me how to lose weight. But what's wrong with being a little overweight? Do we all have to be twigs? I know there's the obvious health reasons but you can be healthy and a little overweight. Whatever happened to being pleasantly plump? And is food the real reason we carry all that extra baggage around our waist? I ran into a friend from high school who used to be a teenage beauty queen. I hardly recognized her, her eyes looked vaguely familiar, but she was nowhere near the girl she used to be. We got to talking. She told me she had suffered three miscarriages in three years. Her mother died and it was a devastating loss to her. Then after years of trying for a child, her husband left her. I felt bad for judging her. My first thought was "She really let herself go" but after a 10 minute conversation, I realized the extra weight wasn't fat, it was protective coating to keep her from feeling pain. She didn't need Jennifer Hudson telling her how easy it is to lose the pounds. She needed her heart mended. How quick we are to judge each other.

As women, we will try the craziest things to achieve a standard of beauty that we know is unreachable. I once wore three pairs of Spanx under a dress. I sat through a full three course meal, a dance and five hours of socializing. When I got home and took the Spanx off, it was like cutting open a bag of insulation. I'm surprised my internal organs didn't fail.

Pain! Women will put up with any kind of pain for beauty. Recently before a trip down south my waxing expert suggested I get a Brazilian. I never had one before but she assured me "Everyone was doing it." She told me that most women take some kind of painkiller before having a Brazilian and some even bring a shot of alcohol with them to take before the process. Now, I've had waxing done on my eyebrows and legs before. It's painful but I've also been through 12 hours of back labour. Nothing scares me. I laid on the table and she began to go to work. The bikini line wasn't that bad. Once the endorphins kicked in, I stopped feeling the pain. Until she got to the sensitive area. I cannot explain how it feels to have the hair ripped from the most sensitive part of your body. When I thought she was finally finished she said, "Roll over on your side." I did as I was instructed. Before I had a chance to ask her what she was doing. She said, "This is where you and I become close friends." I felt the warm wax being spread from stem to stern. I looked like a deer in the headlights. Before I had a chance to say "Stop" it was "wax on" "wax off."  That's all I can say about that.

Who doesn't love beauty tips? I will try anything once. A friend of mine who is a successful model swears that Preparation H is the best eye cream on the market. She explains that the cream shrinks and tightens hemorrhoids. Therefore, she puts it around her eye before she goes to bed. She calls it her "Head & Tail" cream. I tried it and it works! Another friend told me that she uses sugar to clean her face with every second night. It exfoliate your skin. Her face looks great. She also said she takes a sugar shower once a week. She takes a cupful of sugar in the shower with her and exfoliates her whole body. I tried it and your skin feels amazing  afterwards. My mother says the best thing for your skin is draining boiled potatoes. When she drains potatoes she put her face over the steam. This also works. Another friend of mine told me her secret to great skin is baby oil. When she gets out of the shower she rubs baby oil all over her body while it's still wet. Then pats herself dry with a towel. The oil locks the moisture into the skin. It must work because she looks great.

Beauty is a billion dollar business. I am afraid to add up how much I have contributed to that total. After everything I put myself through it's funny that my husband thinks I look best with no makeup on at all. So if plastic surgeons think husbands are bad for business, and men like us without makeup. Who are we doing this for?
The truth is, women don't dress up for men. We dress up for other women. We spend an outrageous amount on a purse, but I have yet to hear a man say "Look at the purse on her!" Men like things simple which is why magazines called "Cars" and "Boobs" exists. Women like things complicated, which is why Harlequin Romance novels exist. We need the perfect dress, the perfect shoe, the perfect purse, we plan the whole night days ahead of time. We stay awake at night planning the details in our heads. We drive ourselves crazy trying to achieve a level of perfection that doesn't exist. Men hit the pillow and fall asleep within 30 seconds dreaming of cars and boobs. Which is why they live longer.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then today, let's be our own holders! Let's pretend every street and  hallway is our catwalk, then work it girl because you are beautiful!