I grew up pretty unaware of my small boobs – they have always been compensated by a first class butt (if I may say so) and I was sort of pleased they never got in the way of my running, or sleeping on my tummy and that they allowed me to wear plenty of outfits without having to resort to a bra. I am still quite satisfied with them, they have served me well. Even at 47, they haven’t sagged and, although I am too old and have too much sense to walk around braless, they are by no means an embarrassment. But they are small, a fact that did not go unnoticed once I moved from Europe to Los Angeles.
The plastic surgery craze has taken hold in Europe too, to the point that my mother (!) suggested at some point I have my breasts enhanced but nowhere else has it run amok like in LA. The few times I venture on a shopping expedition, whether it’s in the Valley or Santa Monica or Beverly Hills, I often feel like I belong to a different tribe – I am the acceptable looking woman (albeit obsessed with wrinkles) who refuses to succumb to Botox, face lifts, boob enhancing, lipo and rubber lips.
I have to admit, I have been known to stand in front of the mirror pulling my skin up to erase the lines that run from my nose to my mouth and asked whoever was at hand “How do I look?”. Most friends tend to plead the 5th. And, being my next door neighbour a plastic surgeon, I have often fantasized about asking him for a consultation. Still, I have not succumbed and the fear of anesthesia will most likely prevent me from following such impulses.
But I do still marvel not so much at the length and trouble aging (and not so aging) women go through to stubbornly cling to their vision of youth but at what constitutes their idea of beauty. Last night, for instance, I was mellowly sipping a mojito and munching on prosciutto at Moonshadow’s in Malibu, with a girlfriend who, despite being a makeup artist, doesn’t wear a stitch of it and looks pretty damn good in the process. I hadn’t been at Moonshadow’s in forever and I found the crowd on the patio, right above the water, to be much older than I remembered.
My eyes briefly wondered to the couple sitting behind my friend and got stuck there. The pair was clearly on a date, the barely disguised discomfort, the nervous laugh, the lack of intimacy in the body language were all tell tale signs. They were both of average appearance: he was talking, staring ahead at the ocean and she was listening intently staring at him, her lips somewhat parted in what she probably thought was a sensual “o”. She wore a pretty floral dress that very well showcased the spherical surgically enhanced canteloupes she had chosen for herself but it was her mouth that kept me glued to the scene – the lips, a dark plum color, were clownesque, out of place in a thin, longish face, deformed, as if a rubber hose had been implanted haphazardly under the skin.
I would like to think she was unhappy about them too and is in the process of suing her plastic surgeon but I suspect she was rather pleased with the monstrous result because I have seen that look at many a yoga studio, restaurant or mall in the city.
When did it become sexy to look like a cartoon and is this really what the men so many of my gender are so desperately trying to catch want? Or does it really help in raising our self esteem? Women are probably never objective in assessing the image in the mirror, hence the too oft asked question “how do I look”. We see what we want to see and will do whatever it takes to reconcile the ideal of what we believe our potential to be to what we actually look like. My question is – what have we given up in the process?