• Thu, Jul 29 2010

Does Anyone Find The “Plastic Surgery Face” Attractive?

Last night I took some male friends to a party for New Beauty magazine (it’s the plastic surgery magazine). Now, these men are pretty open to older women, and besides, there would be free booze, so they were initially enthusiastic. Then we entered the room and froze. A good half of the women had “The New Face.” Which is to say, a face made entirely out of plastic.

It was clear that each of these women had spent tens of thousands – perhaps hundreds of thousands – on their faces. They should have provoked uncontrollable lust in my young male friends. Instead, they provoked uncontrollable “non-teenage mutant ninja cougar” jokes.

The thing was, I don’t think these women went to bad plastic surgeons. You can’t dismiss the new face as just a bad procedure, because it’s comprised of dozens of procedures. You see it on Cher. Melanie Griffith. Madonna. Individually, all of their parts look pretty good.

So did the parts of the women at that party. Had I been shown only tiny pictures of each feature (“here are some lips, are they not lucious?” “here is a forehead, is it not smooth?”) I would have agreed that each of them looked terrific. But, on women I guessed to be in their mid-50′s, the lips and puffy cheeks of a 25 year old looked hilariously out of place, almost as though they’d taken those penny-store wax lips and stuck them on before going out. They did not look like Scarlett Johansson. They looked like Jigsaw.

Now, look, I’m really not anti-plastic surgery. I’ve known people who have had minor changes (some botox here, a breast lift after giving birth there) who have come out looking…rested (I don’t know about you, but my breasts are always perkier after resting). And that’s great! But it seems like when you overhaul every single aspect of your face, the only thing that happens is that you come out looking not-human. You look, instead, like an artist’s awkward sketch of a human. Or, I guess, like a new beauty?

Perhaps no one sums up new-beauty-dom more completely than Heidi Montag whose litany of procedures reads almost like a beat poem. Consider:

I got a slight eyebrow lift
And that’s why I have these staples in my head
I had my nose redone
I had my own fat injected into my cheeks
I had my ears pinned back
I had injections in my lips
I had my chin shaved-down
I had my breasts redone
And my back shaped
And then I had a little bit
Of inner and outer lipo done
You have to realize that
I’ve been through so much pain.

I can’t imagine the pain. And I can’t imagine the plastic surgery really worked. Or, maybe it did, but only insofar as Heidi survived the procedures, and perhaps got what she wanted. If the the intent was, as Heidi said, to stop anonymous internet detractors from making fun of her (for having a Leno chin!) then it failed rather dramatically. Even Spencer didn’t much like it, so it doesn’t seem like it provoked a newfound attraction in her mate. On the whole, rather than turning her into an object of desire, it turned her into an object of pity.

So, what’s the point? Are these women perhaps equipped with only very small compact mirrors and unable to see how their faces looks as a whole? 50% of women in a chic New York party can’t be entirely insane, can they?

But then, I suppose that their entirely overhauled faces did mean I wasn’t entirely able to pinpoint their ages. I grew up in the Midwest (as opposed to say, that town in Logan’s Run). I know what a 50 year old woman looks like. Were these women 50? 60? 35? It was impossible to tell, because Alien-face is not an age. Perhaps that was the goal all along, not to arouse, simply to confuse and in doing so, to grant them a sort of eternal indeterminate age.

Or maybe they were hot and sexy, and I just don’t appreciate modern beauty.

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  • Jen Dziura

    Ah, this is always a difficult topic. Because, of course, these women aren’t choosing between looking like normal, beautiful women and having Alien-face; they’re choosing between looking old and having Alien-face. And while I myself have written about aging with panache, not everyone gets dignified lines: some people get droopy jowls, which I cannot spin into something positive. I’m pretty sure Melanie Griffith would prefer to look like 25 year old Melanie Griffith over how she looks now, but that’s just not one of the options.

    I also wonder if those women are just choosing indeterminate age over any kind of beauty because they’re not looking for male attention, but just trying to keep up professionally. I don’t think La Wintour’s face is about being a cougar, you know?

    • Veronika

      I know what you mean, and it’s why I always kind of cringe at these discussions. They’re usually composed of “ha-ha, look at these crazy ass old women who look like freaks!”

      That said, I do think it’s possible to get a few procedures without getting Alien Face. At some point, you have to accept that you are in your 50′s, you’re not 25 anymore, and own your age. Our culture has a hard time allowing women to age gracefully, but I really hope when I’m half a century old, I will be able to stomach a few wrinkles without thinking I need to spend $100,000 on my self-esteem.

  • Beckie Mohs

    I am so glad that someone else, besides my mom, feels the way I do about Alien-faced women (awesome word by the way). I agree with the comment below about some signs of aging, like the jowl thing, are unpleasant and I would admittedly do what I could to stop/get rid of them. However, there is a line and it seems that more often than not everyone is opting to cross it.

    It was funny when in “The First Wives Club,” Goldie Hawn’s character got teased about being able to blink her lips. But look at her now–bleh. And Dyan Cannon is her creepy twin. And lately, it isn’t just women, but men as well. I can barely recognized Barry Manilow, let alone pick out Kenny Rogers in a line up. What is wrong with aging gracefully? It seems like plastic surgery is being used as a preventative measure rather than fixing things that have already…dropped.

    Does anyone else think that Lindsay Lohan is getting her lips done? Hasn’t she suffered enough?

  • Ellen W.

    (Please bear with me, I do have a point)
    I remember a TV program I watched some time ago about class in America that used a woman’s makeover to illustrate what clues a person into another persons socioeconomic status. They gave her a short blown-out blonde do, put her in a red tailored sports coat with a white button-down top, a draped scarf and very well-fitting trousers. And the blonde was the wrong color for her skin and the red was too red and I didn’t think trousers were very flattering to her porportions. But she looked expensive. Very expensive and that was the goal, not to look good.
    I think this “new face” has stopped being about looking good or even just not-so-old but has become sort of a status cue. If you don’t get the work done people might think you can’t afford it.

    • Jennifer Wright

      That’s actually a great point (and I’d love to see that show). The surgery might not have made them look young, but it did make them look as though they had tens of thousands in disposable income. Though I wonder if I would have been equally impressed if they were wearing $3,000 Louboutins and couture. I think that might have clued me in just as much.

  • Julie

    Ugh. Jigsaw sends shivers up my spine for what he and, and for the eerily accurate comparison!

  • Suz

    Extreme cosmetic surgery = desperation = NOT pretty.

  • robal

    it’s SO american – more is better – ladies (and you men too!), please – nobody needs another ‘surprised’ look or those grotesque swollen lips and chipmunk cheeks or absolute lack of expression for sympathy or surprise. as far as actual surgery (invasive and cutting and stitching) – reconstructive yes, but attention whoring – NO!