Drawing The Line On Wrinkles

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - July 23, 2008
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Mark Spitz and Nadia Comaneci, both Olympic gold medalists, are interested in helping you be the best you can be. So they are promoting ... Botox.

Yup, Botox.

I can see that. It makes perfect sense. Diet and exercise are important, yeah, but what’s the good of all that health if you’ve got wrinkles? How can you achieve your personal best if you actually (gasp) look your age?

OK. Stop right there. That, my friends, was the column I was going to write. The one in which I was going to make fun of America’s obsession with youth and beauty. It’s so easy, especially when iconic world-class athletes are promoting an injectable fountain of youth made of a deadly poison, presumable for mounds of cash and probably free anti-wrinkle treatments to boot. But then I realized - I would first have to acknowledge my own complicity in matters of personal vanity.

As a woman who wears makeup on an almost daily basis, who regularly highlights my hair and who believes with all my heart that someday, somehow, I will finally diet my way back into those size 4 jeans again, it would be hypocritical to point my manicured finger at those who advocate taking it a step further - to surgery, Botox and beyond. I have to acknowledge that the line between what is acceptable and what is not is always shifting. All anyone can do is pick a spot along that line and take a stand.

What does it mean, anyway, to “age gracefully?” I always thought it meant not being afraid to look your age - until I realized that my definition of even that simple concept is radically different from my mother’s. Our expectations of what we will look like at 40, 50 and 60 are sort of what our parents expected to look like at 50, 60 and 70. “50 is the new 40,” we say, and we mean it. Some people work harder at it than others. A few don’t pay any attention at all. I’ve met and admired people who fit into both those categories.

Most people are like me - they fall somewhere in the middle. My personal stand on that line is simple. I like the idea of enhancing what I’ve got, while at the same time reject the notion that all signs of aging must be erased. That to me means “yes” to good grooming, hair and makeup, and health. It means “no” to procedures that surgically alter your physical features. And it means “no” to Botox. Being the best you can be isn’t, as touted by Spitz and Comaneci, hiding your age in order to look great. It’s looking great at all ages.

Other than that, I guess what really bothers me about Spitz and Comaneci shilling for Botox are my own inadequacies. They’re saying, in essence, that even attaining the pinnacle isn’t enough. Even if you’re the best swimmer/gymnast/doctor/pinochle player in the world, if you’ve got wrinkles, you are not the best you can be.

Please. Give us mere mortals a break.

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