The Three-Martini Makeover.

I’ve turned in my book, it was accepted enthusiastically, and now I’m venturing out from my bunker and looking around at the piles that have accumulated in my studio over the past few months. Parenting? Oh, yeah. That. I’m a little out of the loop. My book was a departure from anything having to do with parents, children, daddies and mommies. The title is “You Look Fine, Really,” and it’s for us. It’s for the ladies. It’s for the women over “a certain age.” So I haven’t been in “mommy” world for the past few months, although many mommies might really like this book; I’ve been in the world of beauty and fashion and lipstick and sugar & spice and all things nice, pounding out my particular opinions on how I think we women ought to deal with our rapidly aging bodies and faces, among other things. So the book is for women, but clearly a lot of our perceptions about beauty are formed when we’re young girls.

 

I know it’s not always easy for young girls. And it’s certainly easy for us to say “love yourself the way you are” when every billboard and TV show and movie is telling them that they aren’t measuring up to a very narrowly defined ideal of beauty. The Botox and cosmetic surgery frenzy that seems to have taken hold of actresses even in their twenties and thirties is now trickling down to regular people in regular jobs, and regular girls in high schools and colleges who are spending thousands of dollars to have their faces and bodies reshaped. The other day a friend of mine told me that her 22-year-old daughter was thinking it would be a good time to start getting Botox injections, to keep wrinkles from gaining a toehold. She has skin like a white peach, this girl; but she would rather freeze her face with botulism toxin than face the possibility of having a few lines around her eyes twenty years hence. This sounds crazy to me, and yet apparently teenagers are receiving breast implants and nose jobs as graduation gifts from their daddies and mommies in record numbers. Is this kind of a weird message from Mom and Dad? Congratulations on being so smart, honey, but you’re never going to make it in this world with that unsightly nose. And while you’re at it, you might want to plump up those breasts and have a tummy tuck.

 

Too many Mommies and Daddies want to smooth the way for their little darlings as it is; as if keeping them from having to undergo any hardships will actually help their kids have an easier time of it out in the world. Perhaps cosmetic surgery is just the latest of the quick fixes, just one more leg up they can give their child. Have they forgotten that giant noses and flat chests build personality and inner strength? Don’t the pretty cheerleaders and handsome jocks always end up alcoholically recalling their glory days and boring everyone to death at reunions, because they never learned how to be interesting people? The dorks in high school had to be funny and smart to survive constant humiliation and green stuff in our braces. We couldn’t just stand around looking cute, we had to develop skills to draw the eye away from the giant, inflamed zit peeking out from our unibrow. We had to bolster our quivering insecurity with humor and spirit. Getting through high school thinking your nose is too big for your face is a character-building rite of passage, and a nose with its own zip code will make you a much more fascinating person in the long run.

suburban cowgirl
05.06.09

I agree with every letter of your column. Thank you for such a well written synopsis of how we should look at ourselves and appreciate ourselves just the way we are (although I am always trying to learn something new). I can't wait for the book to come out and will buy a dozen to give to friends. You rock, Christie!

neuromum
05.04.09

Really nice article! I am intrigued to read the book. I think that being a mother to two boys gives you am equally important opportunity to pass on your thinking: after all, those boys are going to go into the world and (probably) have girlfriends and wives. A balanced view about the importance of beauty and vanity will serve them well and make a huge difference in the lives of the women they love.