How refreshing and inspiring it was to read that Kate Winslet had enlisted her British pals, Emma Thompson and Rachel Weisz, for the cause. Winslet told The Telegraph, “I will never give in. [Cosmetic surgery] goes against my morals, the way that my parents brought me up and what I consider to be natural beauty.” Weisz agreed, saying, “People who look too perfect don’t look sexy or particularly beautiful,” And Emma Thompson, the eldest of the three, added, “I’m not fiddling about with myself. We’re in this awful youth-driven thing now where everybody needs to look 30 at 60.”
Following this public proclamation, women around the world have been called upon to join in by taking “The Pledge” against plastic surgery. On Huff Post, author Christie Mellow wrote, “I hereby pledge to not shoot botulism toxin into my forehead two inches from where my brain is housed. I will solemnly pledge to not have chunks of plastic inserted under the skin of my cheekbones and my chin. It might take a will of steel, but I pledge to never let a surgeon pull the skin off my face so he can rearrange and tighten my features.”
Three cheers! Hip, hip, hooray for these three brave British actresses and the women they are rallying in protest against plastic surgery!
But, the more I think about it, the less positive I feel about the whole idea of an Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League — especially one promoted by this trio of famous women. While I applaud them for raising awareness of the problems created by our culture’s obsession with youth, beauty and perfection, and using their celebrity position to make their point of view clear, the impact on everyday woman could actually have unexpected and undesirable results.
You see, women like Winslet, Weisz and Thompson can afford — financially and otherwise — to oppose surgery, photoshop and airbrushing. They were blessed with good genes as well as limitless opportunities to care for their physical selves. Furthermore, they probably haven’t yet experienced their true “uh-oh moment ” in the aging process — that gut-felt moment when the mirror says things are headed south and are never turning back again. Maybe Thompson, at 52, has had a glimpse of hers, but 36-year-old Winselt? Or 41-year-old Weitz? Besides, with their trainers, stylists, fashion and beauty consultants available for constant upkeep, can they really know what everyday women in their 50s and 60s are feeling and thinking?
With women being so self-critical anyway, they just don’t need more to feel bad about. “Immoral” is a strong word, and women who choose to improve their appearance already feel conflicted. They hear, “50 is the new 40,” and if they don’t look and feel that way, they are told to “reinvent, revitalize and rejuvenate.” What follows for most women is ambivalence; a collision of values I call the “Beauty Paradox.” Do we focus on our bodies and faces because it will make us feel better or because we are victims to the anti-aging craze? Are we choosing to look younger than our years to stay competitive — professionally and personally — or have we no other choice in this youth obsessed culture? Should we even care at all, when there are so many other more important things to worry about? ” We have worked too hard and come too far to be so confused by superficial vanity, right?