[Welcome to a Mamamia Best-Of holiday post where I get to take a little break while keeping you entertained with some of the most popular posts from days gone by]
Ladies, nature will force you to make this choice about your
appearance, as you get older. And gentlemen? I’m sure you’ve already
made it in terms of the female aesthetics you prefer.
The theory behind this dilemma (first identified by Mae West in the
1930s) is quite simple. Oh and sexist, naturally. Because for the
purpose of this argument, one has to assume the definition of a ‘good’
ass is ‘firm and compact’ and a ‘good’ face is one that looks youthful.
And here lies the problem. A ‘good’ ass requires a low percentage of
body fat. But as you age, a ‘good’ face needs much more body fat to
fill out lines and wrinkles. This is the Sophie’s Choice of female
vanity: face or ass. Oh, whatever shall we do?
Well, if you’re fond of a needle, there’s always the option of injecting your ass into your face and killing two birds with one syringe. That’s the approach taken by most female celebrities over 30 because they can. It doesn’t even have to be your OWN ass! Isn’t that just so great! If you’ve already starved and dieted your ass into oblivion so you can slip into those size 0 designer frocks, you can just inject some synthetic ass, I mean fat, into the lines on your face.
But this is cheating. And unnatural. And a bit nauseating to think about. For the rest of us, the choice must be made. Perhaps you’ve already made it.
I have a friend with an extremely small and firm ass. She is a yoga nut and does a vigorous type of yoga for two hours every morning. She also plays tennis and swims laps of her local beach. Her body fat would be somewhere around, I don’t know, Madonna?
I’ve always admired her dedication to exercise, while secretly coveting her ass. But lately, as she heads towards 40, I’ve noticed she’s starting to look old. Older than her age. At first I wondered if I was being unfair. Or jealous. Maybe she was just tired. But I met up with her for breakfast last month and in the morning sunlight, I got quite a shock. My gorgeous friend is still gorgeous but her face is beginning to look, well, I wish there was a word other than haggard but that’s what popped into my head.
Her body doesn’t look unhealthy, just ultra fit. But her face? It’s obviously drawn the short straw in this particular bargain and her firm bottom has assumed the power position. I found myself ordering French toast just to reaffirm my face choice. Suddenly, I didn’t envy her ass anymore.
Since that breakfast, I’ve become curious about the choices other women have made. “I’ve started using SPF30+ every day and I’ve let my gym membership lapse,” notes one 38-year-old friend. “Does that mean I’ve chosen my face?”
Another friend, 34, explains her face choice like this: “When I’m in my sixties, I’d rather look like Maggie Tabberer than Sonia McMahon. People look at your face all day, but they only look at your ass if it’s particularly hot or particularly large. Also, you can dress in a way that minimises your ass problem, but there’s no hiding your face unless you wear a burka”.
Sometimes, nature chooses for you. Laments one 46 year old woman I know: “It’s true that my well-rounded face makes me look younger than my skinny sister who is actually six years my junior but it’s definitely not a choice I’ve made. I’m always trying for a skinny ass but as I get older I start to look more like my mum who’s pear-shaped. My chest is growing at the same rate as my ass though so for my husband that’s a bonus. Even without the big boobs, he says he’d choose a bit of padding over a wrinkled face.”
So would most men I think. We tend to place far too much importance on the small ass thing when men are far more accepting and embracing of our asses. So to speak.
“For me, a happy face is everything,” agrees yet another friend who has chosen upstairs over downstairs. “That drawn, thin look is incredibly aging. I mean, show me a female runner who looks younger than they are? Just doesn’t happen. But show me a woman who eats, drinks and laughs a lot and it will all be there on her face and she will likely be beautiful, no matter what her age.”
Helen Mirren chose her face. So did Judi Dench. They are both beautiful and have Oscars. Madonna and Courtney Cox chose their ass. “Several years ago I knew I had to choose between my face and my body” confirmed Madonna recently when asked about her famous commitment to exercise. “I always knew I’d choose the latter.” “In Hollywood to get your bottom half to be the right size, your face may have to be a little gaunt,” says Cox whose face is, looking, well, a little gaunt.
But here’s something scary. Some young women – the ones whose celebrity role models shoot synthetic fillers into their lips and faces when barely out of their teens – see no need to make a choice between body parts. “I’ll just do whatever panel-beating is required to my face or my bum if I don’t like how they look,” shrugged one 24 year old when I asked her to make the imaginary choice. I think that’s called having your cake and injecting it too. Me? I’m casting my vote with Helen and Judi.