health

MIA: It's time to stop being angry with these women.

Lydia, Andrea and Janet from Real Housewives of Melbourne.

For a long time I couldn’t understand why I felt so angry every time I saw a woman who’d had obvious cosmetic surgery.

Pillow lips. Chipmunk cheeks. Frozen foreheads. Immobilised eyes. Blank stares. That disconcerting overall puffiness that has become so familiar.

Whether I was looking at a celebrity on a red carpet or in a photo, even a stranger standing next to me in a cafe, I could feel the fury rise up and prickle underneath my skin.

It was never a pleasant sensation.

These women didn’t deserve my anger and on an intellectual level I understood that completely. They were simply making personal choices about their faces and bodies which is the basic tenet of feminism. Their choices and their faces were none of my business.

Madonna, 57.

And yet still, I seethed.

For a while, I tried to reshape my anger into empathy. These poor women. How awful to look in the mirror and feel so bad that you’d spend thousands of dollars and get your face injected, plumped up, pulled tauter and paralysed. And for the celebrities, how cruel to have your career indexed to your face and your ability to stay frozen  – quite literally – around age 28.

Then I decided my anger was more about the lying; the way celebrities always insist the secret of their youthful good looks is as simple as ‘sunscreen’, ‘luck’ and ‘laughter”. Come on. That’s not playing fair. That’s like saying your hair changed colour in the sun.

Yes, it does irk me when a celebrity insults our intelligence (and our eyesight) by insisting they’re all natural when they’re very obviously not. Or by hiding behind the idea that ‘plastic surgery‘ means a scalpel and that injectibles don’t count as ‘work’. Please.

Finally though, I realised where my anger came from and how it had been misdirected towards women who really don’t deserve it.

I’m not angry at those women.

What makes me angry is that we’re living in a society where so many women feel they must puff and freeze their faces to remain employed, to remain relevant, to remain beautiful.

I’m angry that some of the most genetically gifted women in the world – actresses and models – are still considered not good enough. I’m angry about what that means for the rest of us.

Nicole Kidman, 46.

I’m angry that the baseline of beauty has shifted to the  ludicrous point where it’s only attainable with photoshop or injectables.

ADVERTISEMENT

I’m angry that erasing all signs of life and personality on a woman’s face is now seen as desirable. I’m angry that women in the public eye can now only lose: mocked for visible ‘work’, scorned for lying about it or reviled for showing any signs of aging. Frequently all of the above.

I’m angry that growing older is now an unthinkable, unforgivable offence if you’re a woman, something to be avoided at all costs –  even your dignity.

I’m angry that modern beauty and attractiveness is being calibrated by a small group of male doctors and that this has resulted in some kind of  disconcerting Stepford Wife same-ness among women who’ve had work. The same lips, the same cheeks, the same frozen foreheads, the same puffiness.

The same indeterminable age. Neither old nor young.

Linda Evans, 71.

I’m angry that this is rapidly becoming the new normal. Faster than any of us can comprehend.

I’m angry that I’m now looking in the mirror at my 42 year old face and seriously considering whether a ‘sprinkle’ of Botox might get rid of those persistent frown lines between my eyebrows. I’m angry that women around me – women in their 30s and 20s – are getting their faces injected as casually as they get their nails done.

I don’t want to stop being angry about any of this. And I want you to be angry about it too. Because men are allowed to age. They always have been. But women are being forced to look younger and younger.

What I do want to stop doing, however, is shooting the messenger. The messenger that is Nicole Kidman or any of the other women who have altered their faces. To mock them does us no favours. To be angry with them for succumbing to the extraordinary pressure on women in the public eye to look flawless and forever 28 doesn’t further any cause.

It’s not their fault.

Instead, we must push back against the idea that this new female face, created in doctor’s offices around the world, is the new normal. We must give women space and privacy  and respect to make personal choices while recognising that no individual choice is made in a vacuum.

And when so many women are making the same choice at the same time for the same reason, there’s something bigger and more disturbing going on here.

These women have all admitted to having had ‘work’ of some kind on their faces.

Does plastic surgery make you angry? Have you had it yourself? Would you ever consider it?

00:00 / ???