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June 2022
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2014 03 Beauty is only skin deep

James column for the SligoWeekender

When Kim Novak, screen siren and star of Hitchcock's  celebrated "Vertigo", recently accompanied Matthew McConaughey onto the Oscars stage to present an award, across the world people looked on aghast. The 81 year-old's plumped-up cheeks, stretched lips, raised brows and plummy unnatural voice caused quite the stir. As is the norm in the 21st Century beyond cruel 'virtual' bullying inevitably ensues throughout the social networks. And it did.

Leaving aside corrective, reconstructive and restorative surgery after accidents, burns and operations, or correction of birth defects, why do people go 'under the knife' when the world is littered with examples of  cosmetic surgery going horrifically wrong? Like the Mars-One Mission - there is no going back. In the cases of Kim Novak, Donatella Versace, Jackie Stallone (Oh dear!) and many others, what ever happened to growing old gracefully? Give me a lived-in face with character any day over a 'perfect' plastic complexion. At least Joan Rivers can laugh at herself, saying "I've had so much Plastic Surgery, that when I die they'll donate my body to Tupperware".

The word 'plastic' comes from the Greek 'plastike', meaning 'to model', but now seems to be more usually associated with tummy tucks, mammoplasty, penoplasty, rhinoplasty, liposuction, lip enhancements, chemical peels, and so much more, all in the name of narcissism, ego, vanity, or much more likely insecurity, self-confidence and self-esteem.

Never was the phrase "Beauty is only skin-deep" more apt. Nobody can get beyond that faux facial layer which no longer does what the brain commands it to do. When Dame Edna was interviewing Ivana Trump a couple of years ago, as they both laughed Dame Edna blurted out "Oh Ivana, IVANA Darling, you're laughing, and nothing's moving is it?".

Yet our inner voices  still listen to the select handful of people who mock us and our appearance. Why do we not focus on the hundreds who accept us for who and what we are? Nothing builds up our self-esteem and self-confidence more than accomplishment, while we at the same time ought to rejoice in our uniqueness.

And if that still doesn't work, then confront  'the problem behind the problem'. There is little point in fixing the cover (the outside) without working on the mess below the surface.
Resorting to plastic surgery because of low self-worth, thus promoting insecurity, is such a negative message to pass on to the next generation. And there are so many self-confessed surgery addicts. Change in one area may alter the appearance  of other areas as an 'abnormality' is 'fixed', but with body dysmorphic disorder the outer problem keeps moving, other abnormalities begin to raise their ugly heads, and the vicious circle continues, often leading to acute disappointment and depression.

Celebrate the fact that we are different, rejoice in our uniqueness, and develop our personality and character, rather than risk physical and emotional after-effects. When things go wrong with surgery, you can blame and sue the surgeon, but if we are being honest with ourselves, who is actually to blame?

Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, the 18th Duchess of Alba, is a Spanish billionaire and unquestionably not a positive advertisement for Plastic Surgery. With 44 noble titles and 150 hereditary titles, as a young lady this striking beauty had it all. Sadly later in life, the Duchess of Alba decided to go down the 'enhancement' route, and now at 87, this sweet lil' ol' lady could do extra work for "Hobbit" or "Star Wars" movies. And the world stands back and asks a big -WHY?

As a big fan of the Christopher Guest movies, Catherine O'Hara's actor/drama teacher character in "For your consideration" was genius - she had so much work done she was only left with one startled expression to reflect every emotion. Yet, in reality, we have all seen Linda Evans (ex-Crystal Carrington on "Dynasty") or Liberace, whose faces were no longer able to respond  to emotions either. Their reconstructed expressions took on a whole new life of their own, albeit an expired life.

Then of course there is the grotesque cleavage department of pretty ladies such as Pamela Anderson and Jordan, or the skin and features of the brilliantly talented, yet insanely insecure Michael Jackson. Or Kim Novak, mentioned at the outset, who literally put the 'scars' in 'Oscars'.