The New York Times published a piece yesterday that I wrote after wondering why we have gone so crazy with plastic surgery. It isn't that I'm against all surgeries, all cosmetic touch-ups. It is just that we're collectively in danger of losing our bearings here--too many people I know are going way too far with needle and knife. The comment section is worth a look, too. I'm still amazed enough by the glories of the Internet to be amazed that one can publish a piece and hear what people think within moments...I know, I should be tweeting, but I've come up against the limits of my online sociability. Speaking of, fabulous piece in the same issue by Jonathan Franzen: Liking is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts.  Love, naturally. Franzen writes movingly about how he fell in love with birds, and how that opened him up to a world of love. 


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Cut out both pieces yesterday for keepers!

Bruce Barone said...

Ditto to Pamela.

And, yes, lines are who we are.

And, love is all you need. Love. Love. Love.

Nicole said...

My mom passed on this article to me yesterday. I got to the end and saw you wrote it. I was an avid reader of your essays in House and Garden and sad when the magazine ended. Thrilled to have found you again. As a recent divorcee who has had to change careers and homes and watch my kids grow up amidst the chaos, I've recognized a bit of myself in your story. Looking forward to getting my hands on your book!

Deborah A said...

Last week I went to my gynecologist for a yearly exam and was surprised to see a big certificate hanging on the wall in her examining room. She is now offering cosmetic enhancement for the face and neck, botox ect. I was a bit shaken by this...as she has an overload of patients (average wait is over an hour, sometimes more). Why would she become involved with this "fluff" surgery?
I mean really....let me check your pelvic area and breasts and then I can offer you a few botox shots
too. I can't explain it but I have lost some respect for her.
From a different point of view, there are so many people without health insurance and good medical care today, it seems so shallow to be spending $$$$$$$$ on cosmetic surgery.

SweetRetreat said...

I do not understand why people would willingly submit to surgery or any unnecessary procedure, simply for vanity reasons. Wrinkles and lines are part of the aging package.

Great article - we do seem to be a world gone mad at times.

A dermatologist told me to remember that others do not see us as we see ourselves.

Tara said...

Your piece in the NYT was fantastic! I laughed out loud at parts (even if such behavior will give me lines). We are funny about aging - as if age somehow defines who we are as human beings. That said, while I admire women over sixty who don't color their hair, when I just recently found gray on my own head, I had no issue coloring it.

The people I know who stay looking young do so more because of their lifestyle (diet/exercise etc) and attitude than trips under the knife/laser/whatever. I find those inspiring - I'd much prefer to achieve my glow from living a life I loved than surgery.

Denise Collins (nee Gilgannon) said...

Thank you for that great article in the Sunday Times..a real affirmation for us "just goin' with the flow" over 5o women...there is great wisdom in aging, as well as great beauty, and you affirmed both. Thank you, thank you..

A Gift Wrapped Life said...

Well written and well said Dominique. I do believe in plastic surgery, I myslef had some 25 years ago to correct surgical problems. But I would love to talk to my 50 and 60 ish friends without discussing botox and fillers as if it is a weekly manicure appointment. Most of all I want to see their faces again, the one we should have in our fifities, the ones that have aged together over the many years of our friendship. Because I don't indulge, it does seem as if they feel I disapprove, more awkwardness. I am lucky that I have good skin (a bit of Cree background) and few wrinkles but when they come I hope that i will honour them. Even more, I am so sad to think of what this means for our daughters. I am most proud of my dentist husband who will not/does not offer Botox in his practise. You should write a book along with your post on long gray hair, it is a start do you think? If I could I would send this out to many people, as it is I would like to link to your article this week on my blog with your pemission. Please let me know. Bravo to you for saying what so many of us are thinking, but not exactly verbalizing, we would lose many friends!

david terry said...

How odd that you should mention Franzen (whose fiction I like a great deal). I'm sitting in Seville this morning and have just read a LONG email from a friend back in North Carolina.

The night before I left last week, I had a dinner party which turned markedly unpleasant when I mentioned my dislike of a new neighbor's hefty,roving cat. It's broken the birdbath twice and brought down the windowboxes, (trying to get at the birdfeeders). Predictably enough, the two folks who spend all their free days with feral cat colonies were telling everyone else ( me included) that we just weren't "Cat People", that ALL the statistics from ALL organizations such as The Audubon Society were COMPLETELY false, that "Bird conservationists were the ones who were inflexible & underinformed ideaologues, etcetera.

Attempting to steer the conversation into slightly less personally-insulting waters, I mentioned Franzen's novel "Freedom" (in which, as you'll know,both the "cat people"
& the "bird people" come off looking less than entirely reasonable).

Surprised Me now has a three-page email (stuffed to the gills with with links) beginning with "I need to explain to you why Jonathan Franzen is our designated #1 enemy".

...and I quote.

Given this level of sincere vitriol, you would think Franzen had been publicly advocating slaughtering every non-housebound cat in America and feeding the carcasses to the 12 or so remaining California condors.

In any case, my plans are (1)to read this new article of Franzen's and (2) put a sign on my door before every dinner party, informing folks that anyone who wants to get into this supposed "Cats versus Birds" wrangle will have to take it out to the woodshed. Presumably, folks who are similarly inclined to spluttering outrage will join them there.

And quite off-topic? I'm not currently worried about plastic surgery, cats, birds, (or love of any sort, for that matter). I gather I've landed in the middle of an E. Coli outbreak, which I'm glad to say is a completely new experience for me. this is our fourth day in Seville, and I haven't seen a single fresh vegetable (other than grated carrots, sliced onions, or tinned "white" asparagus)in the restaurants. I'd complain, but Herve (who's an epidemiologist) tells me I ought to be grateful that someone's playing-it-safe these days.

Level Best as Ever,

David Terry

Cristina said...

sound, witty, wisely objective, sensibly balanced, highly enjoyable.
P.S. would you be so kind to explain me what's the meaning of "getting in touch with my inner ham", please?
not even internet did enlighten me.
thanks a lot in advance.

LBDinNYC said...

Hi, Dominique! I loved your piece and have been concerned as well that we're heading towards a society that has botox injections as available as an Egg McMuffin at a McDonald's drive through. I also don't want to appear judgmental against others who embrace these kinds of procedures, but it's hard not to when it's setting a standard that is so unrealistic. People age. It's part of life. I wish we can all just accept that...I cannot wait to read Slow Love. I would be honored if you check out my blog at lindspiration.blogspot.com. With gratitude and xo, lbd

Gerard Finelli said...

As we ate breakfast on Sunday, my wife started chuckling over the article she was reading. She read some parts aloud and I asked, "Who wrote that?" When she told me, I immediately remembered you from my days at Colonial School. Of course, I then read the piece myself. So well done. We know many who search for the "Fountain" chemically or surgically. Enjoyed the humorous way in which you made your point. Will by your new book!

Lost in Provence said...

I used up my last article of the month (curse you folks at NY Times that made that decision! There are so many of us who can't afford the fifteen dollars a month that are missing out) and was very glad that I did.

Here in France, the last time that I checked you needed a note from a psychologist to say that you needed Botox because you were suffering from low self-esteem (that might have changed recently though, not sure). It freaks me out beyond belief that your dentist or gyno can "fix you up" in the States--it is not their job! Let alone, what must you be thinking in order to have such a procedure in that matter?

It would be too easy to say how French women age well by staying "good in their skin". But it seems to be true! Not being French, I am most certainly struggling with getting older but know that I have earned every single damn line on my face.

quintessence said...

Must admit that I laughed out loud at your opening paragraph! I am of the live and let live school in most things unless they affect others in a deleterious way. However, when things go too far such as the actresses with lips too large for her face or as you point out, newscasters who report disasters with no expression, then I must add my two cents. It's a slippery slope indeed but as always for me it's the how much and how well.

Thea said...

so far my skin and neck have been holding up, but i'm not 25 anymore! i have no interest in botox and i do color my hair. but that is where i would draw...okay, confession: if I had a spare $10K I would get a tummy tuck in a heartbeat! and maybe lipo the old saddle bags. but that is it! i swear...i think

Dominique said...

Thea, very funny...you are a demonstration of the slippery slope! I was very moved by a comment from someone who had to endure extensive plastic surgery--not a choice--and he made two excellent points: why would anyone do this willingly? and thank goodness for the doctors who can help those who truly need it.

I agree, Quintessence, live and let live...and don't make the livers feel bad about their liver spots...

Lost in Provence, you can go over your limit, I think, or simply search topics you see on the home page via google...

Gerald, Colonial School! Hurray! Those boys have now graduated from college and law school!

LBD I'll come visit, thank you!

Getting in touch with my inner....ham....well, we get in touch with our inner child, meaning, we are able to become childlike even as adults. A ham is someone who likes the stage, likes acting, (or acting out) and likes attention.....and though I am definitely of the shy persuasion, I do have a bit of ham....quite buried, though. So I enjoy being on those stages, and reading, and making people laugh. Does that explain it?

David Terry, your dinner sounds like Freedom Redux. Incredible. Anyone who doubts that cats kill birds simply hasn't lived with one. My beloved Balthazar, who died thirty years ago, used to leave a bird on my doorstep every day, with the feathers fanned out in beautiful display. I couldn't train him, of course. I did bell him, and that slowed the slaughter. And then he was killed by a car. Which does, of course, do even more damage to everything. Pick your poison. BUT do watch out about the eColi outbreak, please! Thank goodness for your beloved and wise epidemiologist. I'll toast you from Knoxville (and what is wrong with this picture....Seville? Knoxville?)

Deborah A I know exactly what you mean, and I wish doctors like yours would do some research among their patients before they set out on this course...I would feel the same way. In fact, I would resent having a dermatologist make the suggestion--and mine, Leonora Felderman, thankfully, has not done so--she is the soul of tact-- though of course she does cosmetic work in her practice.

david terry said...

DearMs. Browning,

I forgot....you were to be at Blackberry Farm this past weekend for the Garden & Gun fandango, right? It's lovely there. Of course, you can't go 10 miles without running into one or another member of my large, extended family (among which I am the only one who doesn't live somewhere between Knoxville and Abingdon). This was a very great blessing back when I was in my twenties and still driving trucks that tended to break down every ten miles or so.

HAve I told you that sid Evans (for other readers...he's the very capable editor of "Garden & Gun") is the dreamboat poster-boy of my house?...

A photograph of Sid, taken from a Washington Post article from four or so years ago and sent to me at the time by a friend who thought I'd be interested in the magazine)hangs on the bulletin board in my studio. In it, handsome, laughing Sid has rolled up his Brooks Brothers sleeves and is happily GIVING THE BABY A BATH!!!!!

I can promise you that, every time I throw a large-ish party, at least one or two single women (in a house filled to the gills with hundreds of pictures) see that photograph and breathily ask "Who is THAT? Is he a FRIEND of yours?....".

In their giddy enthusiasm, they always seem to forget that the presence of a baby generally suggests the existence of a wife.

My good guess is that Sid Evans is accustomed to this sort of reaction from women.

Level Best as ever,

David Terry

david terry said...


1. I know...I could be wandering around Seville instead of sitting in a hotel and hijacking your comment threads....but it's still dark here.

2. Regarding plastic surgery? Perhaps I'll be revealing that, as ever, I'm the last to have heard a joke that's been in circulation for years, but my favorite tale is...:

I was standing in line at the less-than-entirely glamorous local Food Lion when I noticed a tabloid cover featuring Kate Jackson and proclaiming how FABULOUS she looks at age 50 or so. I loved her on "charlie's Angels" when I was pubescing far from Hollywood. As of now, though?..I thought she looked as though she'd just come from a full-dress rehearsal of "The Mikado". the eyes were just....off-kilter.

A little, very old, markedly dirty, and unavoidably smelly man in overalls was standing in line behind me, and I asked him "What in the hell happened to her FACE? She used to be a really beautiful woman."

He grimaced and declared "Some of these women nowadays gone so crazy over plastic surgery that if they go to smile, they got to lift their damn leg."

I thought that comment was very funny.

Level Best as Ever,

David Terry

Cristina said...

oh yes, your explanation made me understand perfectly the "ham sentence" you used. thanks a lot for your kindness and patience.
(now all I have to do is to dig deeply enough inside me hoping to discover my own inner ham...!)

Thea said...

lol, yes, Dominique, it is a slippery slope!! After watching Nip/Tuck (yes, my guilty pleasure a few years back) and golly, it sure looked painful. My DIL is a nurse who worked in a day surgery and she said it was her worst assignments, esp when mothers brought their daughters in for 'work' like breast and nose jobs. I remember when Meg Ryan had something done which was quite noticeable in THE WOMEN. She had the most lovely, smiling mouth. After she looked like the Joker. It was a tragedy, IMHO! Don't worry, I'd rather start a redo of my garden with a mini stonehenge thingie, using that extra 10K, than do plastic surgery!

Lines of Beauty said...

What a great article Dominique. I say enjoy the wrinkles. Older people are so beautiful, and it is an honor to grow old enough to be one. So many people forget this.

Warren said...

Two comments: I had to have a vein procedure on my ankle five years ago and the doctor threw in a 'free' laser surgery. I still cannot feel my ankle. Why would anyone do this elsewhere on their bodies if they knew they would feel less?! Isn't life all about feeling more? All of it?

I only remember one factoid from college: a La Rouchefoucauld maxim: "Love is finding something new in a person each day."

Pass the wine, please.

Thea said...

warren, stealing that quote. kinda says it all!

Warren said...

Thea, I feel the same.

Here's another: from Maurice Chevalier singing "I'm glad that I'm not young anymore" in Gigi. --- "I've never been so comfortable before, oh I'mmm sooo glad that I'm not young anymore!

If only we could truly LIVE that now. Without envy, pretense, regrets.

I have my moments...

Dominique said...

I agree. Life isn't wasted on the young. It is more wasted on the old. We seem to pine for what's passed and forget to enjoy what is now. Including the beloved faces around us.

helen tilston said...

Hello Dominique

This is certainly a controversial subject.

We have observed newsreaders and actors who relate a sad story and the emotion is missing. It is like their kindness has disappeared. Growing up in Ireland my memories are of elegant older women with wonderful faces full of character and gray hair in a chignon and dressed elegantly.

Thank you for your thoughts
Helen Tilston

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