Whether one should have plastic surgery in midlife has become a topic debated almost as voraciously as who should rule over Jerusalem. Jewish women have been “repairing” their noses for years at puberty. Now baby boomers and older generations are teased with never ending beauty enhancing and anti-aging goodies: face lifts, botox and restylin (oh my!).
Last week, I visited the haven for youth-seeking yentas, South Florida, with my cousin the Jewess comic artist Aline Kominsky Crumb. We met Hollywood Salon owner Cookie, who is 62 and, thanks to the good work of her dermatologist, looks like a Barbie doll.
“After you are 50, you are invisible,” Cookie bemoaned, though she still turns heads with her big boobs, plump lips, long blond hair, high heels and Britney-Spears-meets-Farrah-Fawcett face.
“I have had all kinds of face work done,” Cookie told us. “I had a facelift, my eyes done, my lips. I want to stay desirable ’til the day I die, because I am a woman! You don’t want to give that up. I feel great. I feel vibrant. But I’m not ready to be grandma yet… even though I am.”
I posted Cookie’s photo up on Facebook and the reaction was harsh. My friends thought she actually looked older than 60 and insisted women should grow old gracefully.
“I bet all the critics are under 45, because I was so judgmental about this when I was younger,” Aline responds. “Because when you are still beautiful, you don’t think about it… and then you get older. One day you look in the mirror and think, ‘Who the hell’s face is this? Where am I? I have dog jowls and I don’t feel ready for this.’ You want to postpone the aging and if the technology is there, some people do. It’s really mean to be judgmental about it.”
Jewish women like Aline have always been a self-conscious bunch. Deep down, I think there is part of us that wants to look like goyishe Barbies. She was the image of popularity, happiness and she gets the hottie Ken — how could we not?
Aline had her own face lift years ago, much to the chagrin of some of her artist friends in her tiny village in the South of France. What, she should grow wrinkles and be tired-looking?
I accompanied Aline to get her first taste of face fillers, and held my camera up close as Dr. Joseph Seiber stuck needles into her forehead lines and mini lip wrinkles. I documented the whole procedure for a video we are making about anti-aging in Florida.
An hour later and after Cookie added some light blond highlights to Aline’s fiery red hair, years had disappeared from her face. She looked like a sophisticated sex pot artist, nothing like that crazy yenta Joan Rivers.
“Although after you are here in South Florida, you realize that this society is so excessive, so superficial and so external, it does disgust you after a while,” Aline added.
It’s true some of the boomers down in South Florida take their surgeries to extremes. We met a woman who claimed to have had everything done on her face and body that money can buy — and was proud of it. Her lips, outlined in a overly-dark violet liner, looked as large as her visor cap. Maybe she is taking our culture’s obsession with youth to a new level… but her mensch husband seemed to love the new her, so who really cares?
While I am still au natural at 35, nose job-free and never enamored of the Barbie look, until I hit 45+ and am faced with the wrinkled woman in the mirror, I’m keeping my mouth shut. That’s right: Until I’m in a woman’s orthopedic shoes, who am I to judge? If older woman want to use modern technology to peal off a few years, let them be.
Maybe I’ll be ready for a few touch ups one day as well. Especially since I know a great doctor and have seen the results in action! Really, as long as I’m happy as Florida sunshine on the inside, some outer beauty is just icing on the fat free, kosher cake.