Academy Awards, acceptance, actresses, aging, aging gracefully, beauty, blogging, botox, Crossroads, dermatologists, foreheads that never move, Goldie Hawn, Hollywood standards, J.Lo, Kate Hudson, Kurt Russell, laser peels, march of time, media, microdermabrasion, Oliver Hudson, Oscars, parenting, plastic surgery, sunscreen, unreasonable standards, wrinkles
I saw a post this morning linking to an article about Goldie Hawn’s appearance at the Oscars. The title was: “Goldie, We Love You Just the Way You Were.” The upshot was that viewers thought she had had too much plastic surgery, and believed she was more beautiful “before.” Sounds a little vague to me. Before she had plastic surgery, or before she had the audacity to get older?
Confession: I too gasped when Goldie and Kurt appeared onscreen. Here’s the thing… I had a little bit of up close and not-exactly-personal experience with both of them, back in the 90’s. In 1994, my boyfriend was a senior at Crossroads, a private high school in Santa Monica. (Don’t do the math; my boyfriend was much younger than I was. Not young enough for me to get arrested, but… young enough that at the time I looked it up, just to be sure.) Anyway, at the end of his senior year there was something called a “Senior Appreciation Day.” Basically you sat in a small room with about 10 students, their teachers and families. The teachers went around in a circle and talked about what was wonderful about each student. Goldie Hawn’s son was in that class (in retrospect I realize it must have been Oliver Hudson, which kind of makes me want to pound my head into the wall now, but at the time he must not have been too remarkable) and I was blown away just being in the same small room as Goldie Hawn. She was gorgeous! It was Goldie Hawn – sitting about 10 feet from me! She was funny and smart and emotional, because her son was graduating from high school and like any other parent, she was worked up about it. I will reiterate, she was gorgeous… and only a few years older than I am now (crap!). There was no stage makeup and no fancy gown, but I was wowed. We saw her again (along with Kurt and Kate) at the graduation a few weeks later. Still gorgeous. I have no idea if she’d had work done back then or not, but it isn’t relevant. She looked great. How she looked that summer is how I picture her, to this day. So her appearance at the Academy Awards was kind of a shock. It was the march of time, smacking me in the face.
I am not the biggest fan of plastic surgery, but I’m also not necessarily always against it. Are there people who go too far? God, yes. And women are often the victims, as we are typically held to a higher standard. Women as a group seem more desperate to hold on to our youth, and I include myself in this. I use whatever creams I can afford, wear sunscreen rain or shine (now, anyway – wish I’d started at five), exfoliate… and still I stare in the mirror and lament the latest fine line, the creases from my pillow that hang around for easily 30 minutes after I wake up, and the perma-freckles that are the constant reminder that yes, I really should have started using sunscreen religiously at five. I think about what I might choose to do if things got worse (wrinkle-wise) and money was no longer an object. At this point I haven’t contemplated drastic measures… but I’ve thought about microdermabrasion and laser peels. Maybe an eye lift, far down the road. I don’t think about botox, but only because I am exceedingly afraid of needles (I was 22 when I finally got my ears pierced). But bottom line, I will be 45 in a couple of days, I’m broke and still I think about this stuff. And I’m a fairly young-looking almost 45, I think.
So who am I to judge Goldie? Who is anyone? She’s a Hollywood icon in her late 60’s… that’s a whole lot of pressure. The media is so eager to pick stars apart… what they’re wearing, whether they’ve “let themselves go.” The same people who are claiming to have preferred Goldie “before” are likely contemplating a “before” that either doesn’t exist (pre-plastic surgery? Given her world and its expectations, who knows when she started?), or a “before” that existed so long ago she wouldn’t resemble it now even if she’d never had work done. Whatever she has had done is her choice, and I don’t fault her for it. It’s no one’s business but hers.
That said, I am starting to appreciate the actresses of a certain age who have either not had work done or have super-fabulously subtle plastic surgeons. We were watching a TV show the other night and there was an actress who’s somewhere around my age who I’ve seen in various shows for nearly 10 years. There was a close-up scene and I noticed she had many horizontal lines on her forehead, and I don’t mean that at all disparagingly. Maybe it’s from living in L.A., but I’ve become acutely sensitive to foreheads that never move. I notice them, all the time. So when the rare actress exists who is actually allowing some age to show, I’m oddly excited. You see, regular women get held up and hold themselves up to the standards Hollywood sets. So when I see Jennifer Aniston or whatever nearly-flawless actress of approximately my age, I tend to feel less than. “Why can’t I look like that?” I wonder. Assuming the actress in question hasn’t just won the genetic lottery (hello, J.Lo), the answer is usually stylists and dermatologists and personal chefs and trainers… and yes, plastic surgeons. Conclusion: I can’t afford to look like that. Yes, I could (and should) watch what I eat and exercise more, but it ends there. I can promise I can’t afford to follow the skin care regimens of the Hollywood elite. I do what I can, but I still have fine lines and creases that seem to linger a little longer with each morning that passes. I am almost 45 years old, and I suspect all of this is normal. Sure, maybe the next generation will be more sunscreen-aware than mine was, and will reap the benefits of that. But aging is normal. Faces are supposed to move, and eventually wrinkle. We don’t look younger as time goes on, we just don’t. Finding acceptance of that – both on a personal level and as a society – is a damned good idea.
It’s so easy to sit in judgment from the relative safety of our couches and lament that Goldie doesn’t look the way she “used to.” Who the hell does, really? No one should. If Goldie is happy with herself, that’s all that matters. The rest of the world – and especially the media, who has the gall to perpetuate this cycle of self-loathing and then judge those who react and/or fall victim to it – needs to shut the hell up. Time marches on, people, and no amount of botox can prevent it. If only we could learn to celebrate it instead of fear it, the world would be much better off.