Wednesday, April 12, 2006

On Botox Babes

I came across an article about cosmetic surgeries of various kinds. It has this to say about the advisability of going the whole hog with the lasers and the botox and so on:

Not everyone sees these developments as progress, however. Abigail Saguy, a professor of sociology at UCLA, thinks that our growing obsession with surgery is unhealthy. "It's shocking that woman [sic] are so desperate not to age naturally," she says. "Is it really worth going to these extraordinary lengths just to feel acceptable?"

"Is it really worth going to these extraordinary lengths just to fee acceptable?" I guess the answer depends on what it feels like to be unacceptable, doesn't it, Abigail? Think about it a little. She implies here that women who age without surgery are no longer acceptable in this society, and that they should feel comfortable with that.

"It's shocking that women are so desperate not to age naturally." No, it isn't shocking at all. It's a direct result of the value placed on a bouncy bottom and perk breasts in the society, a direct result of the value placed on a smooth face and lack of wrinkles. If the society punishes women for getting older (by, say, making it harder for them to get good jobs or by making them invisible in social settings) is it really that shocking that women might feel desperate about aging?

The television news crews are a good example of the reasons why some women might be willing to inject botox in their foreheads. The crews usually have one woman and two men, at least around here, and the woman is always pretty and almost always young. The men, not so much. What happens to the women when they get wrinkly? I don't know, because the wrinkly ones disappear from sight. The men, not so much, though this, too, may be changing.

I shouldn't have discussed the quote without starting by pointing out that the majority of women (and of men) don't have cosmetic surgery. It's not "women" who despair of aging naturally, but some women, the ones whose experience and life circumstances make them especially vulnerable to the social ranking system. That I didn't start this way was caused by the other misreading in the quote being so much worse, the one about women's inexplicable vanity that makes them refuse natural aging. What is really inexplicable is for anyone not to see what makes some women want cosmetic surgery when the media around us keeps showing pretty young women as if about fifty percent of the total population consisted of them, and when older women on television are so rare that they might as well be declared honorary tokens.

Something I have learned on the many and varied internets is this: Suggesting that a woman is menopausal still works as an insult in the minds of many blog commenters. No wonder that botox babes exist.