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