Preservation tactics timeless

Bronwyn Eyre, Special to The StarPhoenix

Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It doesn't take much to go from a "miss" to a "madam," a dermatologist once told me.

Unfortunately, she was right. Somewhere around 30, parking attendants started calling me "ma'am," hairdressers assumed I had children and bouncers stopped requesting ID. My age really hit me when I recently asked my German students if they'd ever visited Berlin before the fall of the Wall -- and realized most of them hadn't yet been born.

We'd all like to stay forever young. But is plastic surgery -- or its less-invasive cousin, Botox -- the solution to the age-old battle against aging?

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In a feature on the topic in The StarPhoenix on Saturday, opinions varied:

"Cosmetic surgery isn't about looking younger, but feeling better about yourself," said Cookie McEwan, a Saskatoon businessperson who's undergone three cosmetic procedures. But nurse Candace Franke said she got eyelid lifts because she "wasn't ready to get old."

Ninety per cent of plastic surgery patients are women. But on TV, it's a man, The Late, Late Show's Craig Ferguson, who regularly brings up the subject of aging. "When did I start looking like my grandpa?" he asks. An admitted Botox user himself, he often teases aging Hollywood stars about how they must "bathe in moisturizer."

But as he well knows, moisturizers don't cut it. Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, says all anti-wrinkle creams are a con and she won't sell them. Botox and cosmetic filler are the only the real "moisturizers," which is a shame considering their expense -- about $350 for an average Botox treatment and $500 for filler.

Sadly, the quest for reclaimed youth starts all too young. Britney Spears recently revealed she wanted a full-body plastic surgery overhaul. Catherine Zeta-Jones apparently went under the knife at 33. And Meg Ryan is now unrecognizable. At the Oscars Sunday night, there wasn't a wrinkle in sight.

And it's not just the stars. In Saskatoon, demand for cosmetic procedures is growing. And scores of women between ages 45 and 60 apply every year for the Beautiful You contest -- a beauty and lifestyle "transformation" that includes orthodontic, Botox and "wellness" treatments.

"Their children are grown, their careers are stable, and now it's time for them," says an organizer.

No one's advocating surgical reconstruction at 25. But when you think about it, the search for the elixir of youth and beauty is timeless. The Greeks worshipped the body beautiful, Romans swore by white-pigmented face cream and Cleopatra fancied milk baths and eyeliner.

But for all their popularity, there's still a stigma surrounding not only cosmetic procedures but cosmetics themselves. Back in law school, some of my female peers practically went apoplectic when they saw me applying makeup in the bathroom. And in a recent grad school class, one fellow mused about naive, first-year students who "wear makeup." As they become increasingly consumed with intellectual pursuits, he contended, they'll inevitably lay off the face paint.

When did we become such puritans? Contrary to popular belief, women really can do both blush and Balzac. And in countries such as France and Italy, being elegant and intellectual -- for men as well as women -- is not considered mutually exclusive.

 
 

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