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Friday, July 4, 2008

Race You to the Fountain of Youth: I'm Not Dead Yet! (but Parts of Me Are Going Fast!)

Physical Changes of the Over-Forty Woman

I Am Woman, Where'd I Go?

What over-forty woman hasn't stood in front of a mirror and succumbed to the temptation of rolling up her forehead and tucking it under her bangs to take off a few years? If we're honest, we would all admit to doing this. Why do you think big hair is coming back in style? It's to give us someplace to tape back a few of those birthdays. (I wouldn't recommend using duct tape, however. The silver tends to show through your bangs.)

Another thing we'd probably admit to, if we're honest, is watching some of those makeover shows and wondering what it would be like to actually undergo plastic surgery. Does it hurt? Can I afford it? How long is the recovery? And will they still let me in AARP if I look too young?

Some of us don't stop there. We figure, well, if I'm going under for a face-lift, why not get a different nose while I'm at it? Or a straighter smile, or higher cheekbones, or a more pronounced chin. Perhaps we'd like to add a dimple or two or get our ears stitched back or have a little liposuction on our thighs. Or maybe we'd like to hem that "chin skirt" we've started growing since we turned fifty.

I'm not ready for any of that. Not yet, anyway. The main thing holding me back is the fact that plastic surgery is still an invasive procedure. If it was something that could be done, say, in a drive-through lane and I could get on with my day, then I might be more interested. But plastic surgery is a far more complicated order than what can be handled in a drive-through. It's going to require getting out of the lane and pulling over to the side and waiting, at leastuntil the anesthetic wears off. So I'll pass for now and leave the makeovers to braver souls. A few of them are doing enough to make up for the rest of us anyway. They're single-handedly keeping the nation's plastic surgeons in caviar.

Do you know that statistically more women get plastic surgery than men? The divide between us is shrinking, but women still in this race hands (and whatever else is heading southward) down. Maybe one reason we get more plastic surgery is that we spend a lot more time in front of the mirror than men do. Andnot just any mirror. We bought into the "need" to have magnifying mirrors. What were we thinking? Sure, it helps when we're trying to pluck our eyebrows, but a wrinkle magnified thirty times can be scarier than a Stephen King novel! Men know better than to buy magnifying mirrors. They may allow their barber to use one when it's time for a haircut and he needs help findingwhat to cut, but a man would never shave with a magnifying mirror. Instinctively he knows it's not a wise thing to do.

I've watched the makeover shows on television. The end results are usually pretty dramatic, but again, it's the process that holds me back. I think I could make it as far as getting the lines drawn on my face. That much I could handle with a minimum of anesthesia. It would be sort of like looking at model homes and imagining where your furniture would go but never actually purchasing the house. Or like taking a three-sizes-ago dress out of your closet and holding it up to your current body. You know you're not going to actually get into the dress (not without the Jaws of Life), but you can dream.

So I dream. That's all. Dream about the possibilities. It's safe and painless. Dreaming doesn't involve stitches. Besides, without a magnifying mirror, I'm content to live in my new "loosened-up" skin. It's comfortable, like an old pair of jeans that has just the right give. It's still me in there. And like women everywhere, I've earned each and every laugh and worry line.

Besides, where does all this making over stop? I watched a show recently about how teenage girls are choosing to have plastic surgery. Not because theywere severely injured in an automobile accident or born with some facial disfigurement. They believe they have to have the perfect nose, the perfect smile, the perfect whatever.

But are we losing something with all this "perfection"?

When I was in school, some of the nicest people on campus weren't the ones with the flawless facial features and perfectly chiseled physiques. They were the average- or even less-than-average-looking kids who had accepted themselves with all their less-than-perfect aspects -- and accepted others with their less-than-perfect aspects, too. So maybe stopping at the presurgery lines drawn on my face isn't a bad thing to do -- at least for me, at least for now. Like I said, if they ever make plastic surgery something I can get in a drive-through lane, I might reconsider. But only if I can have fries with that.

Excerpted from

Race You to the Fountain of Youth: I'm Not Dead Yet! (but Parts of Me Are Going Fast!)

by Martha Bolton
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