Say it with me: What has she done to her face?


I know I tend to ramble on and on about the damage that excessive Photoshopping has wrought on our standards of beauty. To recap: It’s bad. But this week I feel I have indisputable corroborating evidence. These are the terrible, tangible consequences of our age’s overly airbrushed aesthetic. Examine, if you will, Exhibit A: Priscilla Presley.

Priscilla got booted from Dancing With the Stars this week, and it wasn’t just her dancing that was stiff.

Her face, merciful Zeus, her face! It’s so tight. It’s so shiny. It’s so incapable of registering emotion. Yes, I realize she was the victim of a phony plastic surgeon who botched her facial work. I say this not to demean her for having so much work done, but to bemoan the fact that she felt the need to have so much work done in the first place.

When did looking like a normal (or in most celebrity cases, way above average) 62-year-old woman become such a crime? Just look at how fan-freaking-tastic Helen Mirren looks, and she is 62, too. And she can still move her eyebrows, not to mention smile.

I am, of course, not the only one to notice Priscilla and countless other women of a certain age in Hollywood with the inability to age gracefully. This week, Los Angeles Times TV critic Mary McNamara wrote a scathingly hilarious column about the epidemic of frozen faces on television. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s impossible to know what exactly has happened in each case — age, genetics, hard living, bad lighting, good lighting, Botox or plastic surgery. Whatever, it’s the new — and wrinkle-free! — elephant in the living room. Despite a tacit understanding that actors nowadays start lifting and injecting on their 21st birthday, mentioning an inexplicable altered appearance remains strangely taboo.

And, once again, I blame the tyranny of perfection that pervades our culture. That tyranny is fed by the distortion of the already beautiful, who become impossibly beautiful thanks to Photoshop and assorted other accomplices. Have we so perverted our perceptions that regular, attainable, human features simply won’t do anymore? Are we so worried about crow’s-feet and drooping brows that we will pull and stretch until our eyes threaten to touch our ears? On the plus side, Kate Jackson must have amazing peripheral vision.

How are we supposed to calibrate our expectations when every image we see has been manipulated into the realm of science fiction? I mean, Vanessa L. Williams is a spectacular-looking human being. But in her Ebony cover, she hardly seems human. Seriously, even 18-year-olds have more wrinkles than that.

Look, I don’t begrudge anyone cosmetic surgery. If it makes you feel better about yourself, have at it. But there must be some limits. There are worse things than a face that has a few wrinkles. You could have a face that scares small children.

So, are you tired of all the cosmetic surgery in Hollywood? Are women in the public eye damned if they do, damned if they don’t when they get older? Have I scarred you forever with all these Frankenfaces?

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