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Damned if they do, damned if they don’t

2331020022_88e2565d04 So apparently Demi Moore, 47 in November, has denied in French Marie Claire she’s had any plastic surgery at all to look as she does–which is to say, fantastic and no more than 30. According to the Daily Mail, this is what she said:

“It’s completely false, I’ve never had it done,” she said, adding: “But I would never judge those who have….If it’s the best thing for them, then I don’t see a problem.”

Not for nothing, if I had had $120K in plastic surgery, which she is rumored to have had over the years, and then felt compelled to deny it, I would probably make a point of my nonjudgmentalness, thus leaving the door open a crack in case I was busted later on.

While I wouldn’t bet my bippy on it (I won’t bet my bippy on anything until I know what a bippy is), it is my 99.998% certain opinion that that is complete bullshit. Not only is it highly suspect that she is the only 47-year-old on the planet who looks like that naturally, but there are pictures.

Whatever. OK, so Demi denies it.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have folks like Patricia Heaton, Lisa Rinna, Denice Richards, and of course Joan Rivers, who are open and honest about their surgery. The below from Patricia Heaton’s website, in an article in the Erie Times from 2002:

“When I go out to an important public appearance, I have a lot of help to look the way I do. Someone does my makeup, someone does my hair, a stylist helps me find the right clothes. It’s really not fair — the image we present to the world — because it’s so contrived.”

Asked why she opted for surgery, Heaton admits, “Vanity. My stomach looked like the map of the world, and I’m fine about saying I had surgery because there’s an awful lot of illusion in Hollywood. I think it’s better to be honest if you can.”

My question: Is it better for to be honest about it, or better to lie about it? By better, I mean better for women’s body image and mental health, vis-à-vis how they look as they get older.

Honesty is always my first instinct, but then I got to thinking about it. Perhaps plastic surgery is one of those things that, had it stayed in the closet, might have been better for women.

Consider this: When it is social unacceptable to talk about certain things–to maybe be a bit embarrassed of them–oftentimes the the thing itself fades away a bit.

I’m not talking, of course, about stuff about which we have no choice, such as one’s sexuality or an illness such as cancer, which for years was considered “the C word” and not discussed, to many people’s detriment. I’m talking about that which which people don’t have to do, but do and have no compunction about because, well, everyone does it. I have no proof of this, but it seems that when using racist words became considered loutish and disgusting, even if someone were a racist, he was forced to keep his pie hole shut or be forced to go home and curse at the TV. That person’s kid didn’t hear such language and the vitriol they expressed in polite company, and that left room for her to develop her own views, which, over time, were hopefully broader minded than her father’s. Progress.

If it’s totally de rigeur to have cosmetic surgery, like, no biggie, kids getting implants for their high school graduation, lipo and breast lifts and “mommy makeovers” (for the non-obsessed, that’s a combo tummy tuck/boob lift) considered part of “not letting yourself go,” is that really a good thing? It makes it seem like it’s completely normal, rather than what is normal–getting older and looking it.

On the other hand, well, liar, liar pants on fire! Saying you come by your looks honestly makes women feel bad, too. If she can look that way, how come I can’t? Am I not doing enough, eating little enough? I hate my parents for giving me such crappy ass genes while Demi Moore, Nicole Kidman (who apparently denies her Botox) and the rest of the fortunate few got the lion’s share of the good ones!

What do you think? I’m genuinely torn.

Photo by Nesster CC

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11 Responses to “Damned if they do, damned if they don’t”

  1. Rachel B says:

    i wish everyone would be honest — i don’t get why it’s such a big deal — but maybe i’m too much tmi-style, i dunno. i just think it would make all of us feel better to know there’s a reason why a 50 year old looks 30, ya know?

  2. Cat Perry says:

    Steph, I’m also torn about this. On the one hand, even as a pretty vocal feminist, it’s hard for me to honestly say that if I had Demi ( or CHER’S) unlimited funds that I wouldn’t be tempted. And yet, I do hate that this is even still such a freakin’ issue!
    My feelings (typically Aquarian) are this:

    A) Demi has every right to privacy in regard to whatever medical/surgical procedures she has done, YES even cosmetic ones. She’s under a kind of scrutiny and pressure that few of us (even those of us who teach yoga/work at a major women’s mag/exercise in public/fill in the blank) can even imagine yet alone have to deal with as an actual part of our life.

    Are you OK with complete strangers asking about your highlights? Your hair color? Your nose shape? Your weight? Your age? If the answer is not a whole-hearted YES then back off her sister!

    B) ANDYET, while i stand behind my above comments I also can’t help applaude the women, some of whom you mentioned, that DO step up and say, “Guess what ladies, don’t beat yourself up, even I don’t look like this without help!”

  3. alanb says:

    Being honest about having undergone *elective* plastic surgery isn’t just about being honest about having undergone plastic surgery…

    …it’s also being honest about:

    (i) the fact that you were so unhappy with yourself-in-your-natural-form, subject to your normal settling/decay, that you were willing to pay someone to alter your terrestrial physical manifestation,

    (ii) your belief that superficial meat-and-skin-rearrangements will make others appreciate you-in-your-entirety more,

    (iii) your belief that superficial meat-and-skin-rearrangements will make *you* appreciate you-in-your-entirety more, and

    (iv) your decision to buy a quick-and-easy solution whose success depended more upon your doctor’s skill than your fortitude and dedication (to, say… diet, exercise or a rigorous and comprehensive exfoliation program).

    When I’m gauging someone’s *gestalt*, I’ll want to know about those things…

  4. Karla says:

    They do it because of their career choice–the 18-34 crowd won’t go to a movie featuring a 47-year-old sex pot unless they can imagine she’s one of them (18-34). Why they lie about it, I don’t know. Perhaps that also has to do with their career choice—they “pretend” for a living.

  5. Demetra says:

    Wait… didn’t she publicly admit that she enlarged her breasts years ago and that it made her feel so much better about herself etc… or am I mistaken?

  6. Jane Gassner says:

    I remember when Demi Moore copped to have her breasts enlarged. Around the same time that she was running 92 miles a day to keep her GI Jane body. I think the issue isn’t privacy so much as holding oneself up as a role model. There are ways for her to take herself off that pedastal if she is too uncomfortable talking about the Work she’s had done to admit to it.

  7. Juli says:

    No one looks THAT good at 47. Let’s face it…Demi has had lots of work to look like she does. Whether she admits it or not, her gifted surgeon has taken years off her face and body. It seems that if an actress has had “sex-poy” acting roles throughout her career, she doesn’t admit to the surgery. But…if an character actress or comedienne has had some work, they freely admit it…maybe it’s hard to get further sex-pot roles if your audience knows you’re ‘lifted’.

  8. I am tired of wishing I had the body I once had. It’s been a long haul but I am learning to appreciate the one I possess now, in my 50s with my great skin, health, and intellect. Thank goodness some in the media are finally getting it. Check out Glamour Magazine’s wonderful picture of a 20-year-old!

    http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/blogs/vitamin-g/2009/08/on-the-cl-the-picture-you-cant.html

  9. Joel Jacobs says:

    At the risk of stating the obvious, her reluctance is not based on some stigma associated with plastic surgery that signals it’s on its way out. It’s based on a desire for people to think she looks that way naturally. So I don’t think you can lump this in with other phenomena that people either talk about or don’t based on whether they think people will hate them, e.g. admitting they’re gay. I also think the desire to look attractive is so powerful in our culture that the spectrum of the possible runs from socially acceptable/openly acknowledged to not discussed/still widespread. It’s hard to imagine “not done” as an option.

    On the other hand, my motivations at 17 to get a nose job are pretty accurately summarized by Alan.

    My wife Denise just blew my mind a few days ago when she explained that most women in their 20s and older alter their hair color in some way. I hadn’t really thought about it before, now I feel like the whole world is unnatural. What I wonder about is the other side of your question: what happens when everyone becomes tuned into the artificiality, and getting plastic surgery or coloring your hair doesn’t let you “pass” for younger anymore? Would people stop doing it?

  10. I think it would be perfectly fine if Demi, or anyone else, were to say “I don’t want to talk about this part of my life” period. I think its kind of silly to claim she’s had nothing done.

    Even though it is possible to look much younger now a days without actually cutting (peeling, plumping, scraping, etc), that doesn’t account for her rock-like boobies in all of those stills from her striptease movie!

    It imagine that for a lot of women it has very little to do with how they look to others and soooo much more about how it makes them feel when they look at themselves, so I don’t know if it really matters that no one is buying it anymore.

  11. What a freaking liar! Those perky, upturned breasts are real MY ASS! (Real boobs slip under your armpits in a puddle when you lie on your back, Demi.) Denying that is the equivalent of saying “Unlike you, I am uniquely genetically blessed.” But whatever. I personally LOVE it when celebs admit to having “work” done. Makes me think if I had gobshites of money, I’d be a goddess, too. That’s a thought I cling to frequently…