I went to the mall yesterday for a little retail therapy. Hey, I'm just trying to do my part to stimulate the economy. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. While I was wandering around the mall in my state of bargain hunting euphoria I started to notice the faces of some of the women there. Now granted, this isn't your run of the mill mall. It's in an affluent area and the people who shop there can, well, afford to shop there. But as I looked at their faces, I could see that they can also afford a few other things.
One woman who had been walking in front of me for several minutes appeared to be in her mid to late twenties--from behind that is. She was dressed in a trendy, but tasteful body conscious outfit. Designer jeans, cute wedge sandals, printed cotton top, cropped cardigan, basically the uniform for suburban women of taste. Her hair was gorgeous from the back. I was just admiring her highlights and her perfect layers when she abruptly stopped and turned around. Maybe she'd dropped something, maybe she'd passed the store she was looking for. I don't know what made her do it, but I hope she didn't see my reaction, because when that woman turned around she suddenly was not a twenty-something fashion plate. She was the Crypt Keeper. Well, not so much the Crypt Keeper as the Crypt Keeper after several visits to the plastic surgeon.
I don't know if women realize when they decide to go to that level of tightening that they aren't really going to look younger. I know people argue that they aren't trying to look younger, just "refreshed". But, I can tell you that this woman did not look younger or refreshed. What she did look was surprised. That about sums it up. She had a permanent look of shock on her face that I must say, did not match her outfit in the least. Her eyebrows were so far up on her forehead that they had taken up residence in the neighborhood directly adjacent to her hairline. Her eye lids had also been tweaked (and that's putting it kindly). I'm not sure she could blink actually. Why, there wasn't enough slack for her face to show any expression other than surprised. And even if there was, the botox would have kept her from making it.
I think I may have let out a slight gasp when she noticed me stopped dead in my tracks staring in disbelief. And that's when, the saddest thing of all happened. She smiled. I tell you, it was the most pained, swollen, collagen injected, wanna-be smile I've ever seen (sorry Lisa Rinna, even your trout pout runs a distant second). It was as if two overstuffed breakfast sausages had been Crazy Glued in the spot where her real lips should have been. They completely filled the space between her perfectly sloped and buttoned nose and her chiseled chin. With so little surface area left it was amazing that she could even force those lips into anything remotely resembling a smile. I was shocked. I was stunned. I was hoping I didn't look as surprised to see her as she looked to see...everything.
It was too late to run, she had made eye contact. So I did what any polite suburban shopaholic would do. I said, "Um...nice shoes," and I cut and run into Nordstrom. Now I'm as insecure as the next woman when it comes to aging. As I sipped my half caf, non fat, post traumatic soy latte in the cafe by the juniors department I had to ask, was that my future self? As startled as I was by that woman's appearance, I could understand the desperation that lead her to the plastic surgeon's office. This is a harsh reality women face in this society. Sean Connery can be weathered and bald, Brad Pitt can be slightly rumpled and still sexy as can be as he approaches the half century mark. But when Jamie Lee Curtis stops coloring her hair and vows to embrace aging gracefully, it makes headline news. Honestly, the woman was on Oprah, that's how rare it is for a woman to willingly go into that goodnight. Most fight it every step of the way with methods as simple as hiding their roots to the varied array of alterations that can only be done under general anesthetic. I am not immune to this desire to look younger, fresher. I'm holding steady for now, but who's to say what time will bring? Will my insecurities leave me looking permanently surprised? I decided to cut my retail therapy session short. When the waiter came with the check I handed him a sweaty, balled up twenty. "Sorry it's so wrinkled," I aplogized.
"That's OK." He smiled smoothing out the bill, "It doesn't matter how wrinkled it is, the value is the same." I wish buddy. I wish.