At the ripe age of sixty-four, I thought there was nothing more to learn about human nature, but I was sadly mistaken. The other day my husband had to see a plastic surgeon due to skin lesions that must be removed. We ended up in this swanky plastic surgeon’s office, and it was truly an eye opening experience for us.
To begin with, I’ve never been in a plastic surgeon’s office and did not really know what to expect. I was somewhat in awe of the splendor and can assure you that this guy is doing more than all right for himself. The office extremely well-appointed and it was full of people, men and women of all ages. We waited at least an hour past our appointment time, as did everyone else who came in. My husband leaned over when we first arrived, asking me quietly if it made me wonder what they were all there for, to which I answered, “no, not at all.” Then, of course, I started wondering what they were all there for.
What I saw as I glanced around that room was absolutely mind-boggling to me. There were people of all ages, races and descriptions. There did not seem to be any commonality among them—just a lot of faces who all seemed to share this somewhat dissatisfied, self-conscious look. I wanted to jump up and announce that I was not there for myself—I was there for my husband, but thank God I restrained myself before I did. It seemed that I wanted to defend myself from that foolishness, although I felt empathy for every person in the room, especially the women over fifty.
As I glanced around it was obvious that one can easily and accurately draw certain assumptions about human nature by sitting in a plastic surgeon’s office. One assumption is that no woman, young or old, is ever satisfied with herself. Second is that aging must be the most terrifying event in life for a lot of people. Third is that plastic surgeons are rich and there is a reason for that—two of which I just mentioned above. I learned many valuable lessons from my mother, though, and one of those was that no matter how fast you run, age does and will always catch up with you, so the older I get, the slower I seem to run.
First let me tell you about a platinum blond woman who sat across from us. She was petite, had a nice figure, with obviously generously enhanced breasts. Her hair was board straight, dyed platinum, and as dry as a pile of straw. She had it blunt cut and from a distance (long distance) she looked good. She was wearing a yellow sleeveless (bad choice) sweater and jeans. Her lips looked like they were about to turn inside out from obvious injections of whatever they use for that (think Lisa Rinner). She had a nice tight face across the cheekbones and hairline, although her neck was as crinkly as crepe paper (similar to mine) and red (nothing helps that red, I’ve found). She had many crow’s feet around her eyes and her jowls were beginning to have that look—you know the one—just before giving up. Her arms were flabby at the tops and splotchy from age spots. She wore an expression of cautious, slightly frightened hope. I assumed that it was her first visit to this surgeon by the pile of paperwork and insurance cards, and I’m sure she was hoping to improve on the multiple procedures she had already had by someone else. She wore an embarrassed, sad look that broke my heart. The truth is, she was a beautiful woman who, if she had not been trying so very hard, if she had just relaxed, would have been breathtaking. I would guess her to be my age or maybe a little less.
Two seats down from her was a beautiful young woman who appeared to be about thirty. She had gorgeous hair, pulled back, expensively highlighted, and styled in that way that looks like you just got out of bed when actually you took at least thirty minutes to get it looking that way. She was tiny as could be, and her son and mother waited outside for her in the foyer of the office when she was called in. She was dressed in cute little jeans, a revealing top, and high wedge heels. She knew the people in the office, and it was obvious she had been there before. She had what appeared to be brand new boobs—they had that just created look and she carried them like her new two most highly prized possessions. When women first get those new boobs they always spend the first year or so showing them off. She wore a skin tight top with a low neckline and had that give-away habit—she kept glancing briefly down to see her favorite possessions. When she walked she led with those babies. I recognize the look because of a few family members who have had the same procedure done. This young lady was stunning, and I can assure you that the boobs had absolutely nothing to do with it, but they were certainly making her happy that day.
Behind us was a woman who was probably a little older than me—she had taken fair care of her skin and had the normal wrinkles of a woman our age. She had her hair a nice reddish blond shade and it was cut in an attractive cut. She was a little overweight—probably twenty pounds, but they were pleasant, normal looking pounds. She wore her clothes well and was very attractive. She sat in a manner obviously intending to cover herself, if you know what I mean. You could tell that the extra twenty pounds were the thorns in her side, the thing that kept her up at night. My guess, from personal experience, is that she has been dieting on and off for ten years or more and has finally decided to take the easy way out. I’m certain she was there for liposuction or something even more invasive—tummy tuck or something like that. When she got up to go back to the examining room, she walked like woman who had lost her confidence completely. She looked defeated and very ashamed of herself. Many people don’t look kindly on a woman who has “let herself go” by gaining twenty pounds. Those people are generally twenty-five to forty and haven’t gotten “there” yet.
Next to us was a woman who was likely fifty or so. She had facial deformities that were, although not devastating, very obvious, including a very badly receding chin and eyes that were a little bit uneven in placement on her face. She spoke with a very nasal voice and was obviously not very bright. She asked several questions while sitting there and shared information about having surgery to “straighten this old face out” with anyone who glanced her way. She was most definitely not sharp mentally, but she was determined and thrilled about the possibility of someone getting her, as she said, “looking normal.” I thought she was lovely and brave.
There was a forty-something couple there who were waiting for the wife to be called back. The husband sat disinterestedly listening to an iPod, while his wife fidgeted. She looked a little older than him, was rail thin, had very dark olive skin (obviously a tanner), with serious sun damage. She may have looked the most desperate, especially while glancing furtively in the direction of the uninterested husband.
There was a very young black woman there sitting over in a corner who had an absolutely beautiful face, but was carrying at least an extra fifty pounds. She never made eye contact with anyone. Her self-esteem seemed to be non-existent and she sat quietly, waiting for someone to solve her problems with a scalpel or liposuction machine. I never saw her smile or even glance around the room.
I could go on and on. What was so startlingly obvious to me was the fact that no woman, no matter what age, no matter what station in life, no matter what size, no matter the physical attributes, is ever satisfied with her body. We just aren’t. I think we are that way from childhood. The world has come to admire only physical beauty and perfection—not who the woman is on the inside.
I will be the first to admit that since age thirty, I’ve slathered enough skin crème on my face to fill up the Culkin Water Tower. I buy the mid to low priced stuff and it has not become a habit as much as an obsession with me. I can’t sleep without my night crème or go the morning without my day crème. And I color my hair. There, I’ve said it. I have for so long that I have no idea what color it really is. One day soon I hope to find out. I have not had any “work” done and don’t intend to, but I have my little rituals as I stated above. So I am most assuredly not without my vanities. But there is one thing that I know, and I have recognized it for a long time. You can run but you can’t hide. It will catch you, no matter how much you spend, no matter how many times you go under the knife, or what you spend to try to keep father time at bay. He is coming. The only consolation is that all your friends are going right along with you.
What a wonderful world it would be if we all just quit the foolishness and become happy and satisfied with whom we are and where we are in life. I am making a promise to myself now to try my very best to do that very thing. But don’t expect me to give up my face crème or even my hair color just yet. Give me some time, please.
What happened to “aging gracefully” or “letting nature take its course?” I guess we just aren’t programmed that way. But let me promise you this. You won’t find me up in the office at that plastic surgeon. I am drawing the line here and now. Why can’t we just be happy where we are—it is the most natural thing in the world and we all have that same path to walk down? I just wish it was more comfortable and less frightening! I wish that young mothers would teach their little girls to be proud of their accomplishments, their kindnesses, their hearts, their souls, rather than their outward appearances. Beauty is truly from within.
Now where did I put that Lady Clairol I wanted to use tonight?