I love irony, specifically this definition by Mirriam-Webster, “a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.” Except irony is only amusing if you are in on the joke.
I was and am under no obligation to write about this treatment. All opinions in this post, just like every other post I write, are my own, Lord help me—but I am happy with the results and I think my readers would be interested.
Leave it to irony then that I’m sitting here with this post to write about a cosmetic procedure while yesterday’s social media pandemonium was over Renee Zellweger’s new appearance. It seemed that every online news outlet carried the same screaming headline:
What the Hell Happened to Renee Zellweger’s face?
Pundits on every side of the beauty aisle lined up to debate Renee’s face as though she were a piece of meat.
Which is something every woman in the world wants, a picture of herself at 22 plastered all over the internet next to a picture of herself at 45 while the entire world publicly debates when she was the prettier.
Here’s me at five and then at fifty. Have at it.
Then Facebook and Twitter lit up with every Sally, Sue, and Sam putting in their two cents.
Here’s some quotes from FB that I read yesterday:
“She was so pretty.” [emphasis mine]
“She has not aged well.” (You are being graded. I hope you’ve studied.)
“She’s lost her unique and charming appearance.” (Ouch.)
She’s not herself anymore.” (Because a woman really is just her face.)
“Wow! Shocking. And not in a good way.” (What’s the good way for being shocked?)
“Sad. So sad that you can’t be happy with yourself. I feel sorry for her.”
Let me translate the last quote for all the men in the audience, shall I? When one woman starts calling another woman “sad” that’s womanspeak for “I’m now going to tell you how superior I am to her.” You get extra points if you can pin-point the particular emotional/psychological problem of the woman on the microscope slide, in this case Renee Zellweger’s poor self-esteem and inadequate self-image caused by all the pressure on her by Hollywood. Poor her. Oh, the irony!
The Woman Wars
Spending my entire female life watching women emotionally and socially beat the hell out of each other over breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, spanking, not spanking, attachment parenting, letting ‘em cry it out, homebirth, epidurals, working outside the home, being a fulltime homemaker, being too fat, being too thin, wearing too much make-up, being too sexy, not keeping your man happy by giving him enough sex, getting professional hair styling, donning a pious doily over long, uncut hair, spending time at the gym, not wasting time in selfish pursuits like personal fitness, marital submission, being a feminist, maintaining your hymen until your wedding night, giving away the cow for free, giving head, showing your godliness by turning your head and thinking of England, homeschooling, putting the kids in daycare, staying with him, getting a divorce–and on and on–I find myself unsurprised that ageing is the next unwinnable female competitive sport.
Like everything else under the sun that women jockey for position over, there’s no way any woman can win this competition. (Unless you’re Betty White, Meryl Streep, or Helen Mirren.)
Do anything “unnatural” (except for hair coloring, and maybe wearing Spanx, although I’ve seen women debate who is the better woman over that one, too), and you’re trying too hard. Do nothing, and you’ve let yourself go. Do anything in between and the judge from Germany might give you a 10 (most likely because he can’t tell you’ve done anything, which is the only acceptable anything to do, that which can’t be detected by the human eye), but that Russian hold-out will give you a 1 for being a sad example of 1) trying too hard or 2) letting yourself go.
It could go either way. It just depends on which position will make the woman who’s made herself the judge of another feel better about herself and her own choices in life. And regardless of what you do, or don’t, somebody somewhere will say that you aren’t ageing well. (Unless you are Betty White, Meryl Streep, or Helen Mirren.)
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Here’s the thing about The Woman Wars: WE CAN’T WIN! They are designed to make us feel bad about ourselves no matter what we do.
For example, stay home to raise your kids and a segment of the population will think you’re a lazy parasite, but go to work, and another segment will think you’re selfish and don’t love your kids. How can anyone win that?
And you can’t win the ageing wars either. So I suggest we all just start doing whatever makes us happy and stop looking for validation outside ourselves for the choices we make in life.
Nothing Replaces Good Skincare
I frequently get comments about my skin, and it is my pleasure to share with others the things I’ve learned over the years. I’ve admitted before to having some cosmetic procedures, but I cannot say often enough that nothing–no fillers, no neuromuscular blockers, no surgery—can ever replace good skincare.
Good skincare starts with good nutrition, hydration, and sun protection. Cleansing products, moisturizers, and make-up are also important, and, surprisingly, price is not the best indicator of efficacy. Good skincare might also include regular facials from a skilled aestetician–which I get–and retinols–which I’ve used since I was 42.
Nipples Up; Elbows Down
I also adhere to my very own “Nipples Up; Elbows Down” philosophy which is that any products I use on my face I also use on my neck and décolletage (from the nipples up) and arms and hands (from the elbows down).
What is Hand Rejuvenation?
One of the things that happens to ageing skin over time is the loss of subcutaneous fat. This happens to our faces and necks, and also to our hands. My hands in particular are just like my mother’s and grandmother’s, thin and veiny. Washing them multiple times a day in my job as a Labor and Delivery RN hasn’t helped their appearance either.
I’ve used retinols on my hands for years, and protected them with sunscreen just like I do for my face, so I don’t have age spots on them, but I’ll admit that they’ve gotten a little, okay, a lot, Crypt Keeperish over the years.
Read any article about how to tell a woman’s age and every single article will list hands as the unmistakable tell-tale sign. Frankly, I don’t want to be defined by my age. I don’t feel old, and I’m not ready to look old, either.
But what can you do about your hands?
Well, you can get dermal fillers in your hands just like you can in your face. And when Dr. Hui suggested we do that since I’d never had it done before, I was game.
Here’s the video the nurse shot while Dr. Hui was injecting my hands with Radiesse. She slathered on lidocaine cream beforehand, so the procedure was completely painless. If I’d known this was what I was going to have done I would have had a manicure first. Oh well.
In the first few days afterwards, there was a distinctive Mickey Mouse appearance to the backs of my hands, but that has completely subsided now. My hands now look like my own, but without the prominent veins and tendons. I’m exceedingly happy with my results. And the best part? It lasts for two years, and Radiesse stimulates collagen production which will actually slow down further signs of ageing of my hands.
The true importance of our hands isn’t how they look, but what work we do with them. My hands have been the first to touch hundreds of new human beings, and I’m proud of that. I’m also pretty darned happy when I look at them now, too.