With my own eyes I saw the results of cosmetic surgery.
Right there in the toilet paper aisle, pushing a wobbly cart she stepped toward me, lots of chunky jewelry, long bleached blond hair, tiny animal print shoes with tall spiked heals, and too tight jeans as her adornments. Her attire caught my eye right away, but as she wheeled closer I saw her tightly-pulled, smooth-as-plastic face, her sad, upwards slanting, darting eyes, and.......her lips.
"She looks like a catfish," were the first words to dash cross my ever-too-critical mind.
But she did.
Impregnated with magical, lip-bloating collagen, her mouth resembled a catfish's wide, fat-lipped mouth, and it wasn't pretty at all.
After the critical Me had her say, the more compassionate Me noticed that this woman's eyes seemed to be the pleading eyes of an imprisoned soul, trapped underneath this Joker-esque mask of pulled and plumped, smoothed and re-situated skin. I felt sorrowful, especially when, after brief eye contact, her eyes shifted downward and her head bowed low as she passed. Surprisingly she seemed ashamed.
I felt very very sad.
Sad for her.
And sad for women in general that we believe these lies about what is valuable and beautiful in a woman. Lies, lies, lies, which distort our self-images causing us to do unspeakable things to our bodies in order to be 'approved.'
Life has been stolen from women in many ways, life and power and joy and rest.
Wandering Coyote introduced me to Naomi Wolf's book, The Beauty Myth, and it has affirmed what I've long surmised: We are not in Kansas anymore, and the Wizard is a fraud.
"Whatever the future threatens, we can be fairly sure of this: Women in our 'raw' or 'natural' state will continue to be shifted from category 'woman' to category 'ugly,' and shamed into an assembly-line physical identity. As each woman responds to the pressure, it will grow so intense that it will become obligatory, until no self-respecting woman will venture outdoors with a surgically unaltered face. The free market will compete to cut up women's bodies more cheaply, if more sloppily, with no-frills surgery in bargain basement clinics." ~~~ Naomi Wolf
I dare say the day has already come that 'no self-respecting woman' will venture out without make-up. Except for me. I get lingering, face-scanning looks from women all the time as if they are thinking, "Is she wearing make-up or not?" as in, "If she's not, she's wrong!" My Mediterranean heritage gives me a bit of an advantage, with olive skin and dark hair. Still, who cares? Why does anyone give a darn? Stumps me.
I particularly like Naomi's phrase, assembly-line physical identity. It's true, from clothing styles and sizes, to make-up, nails, hair, purses, sunglasses, even cars and boyfriends. It's copy copy copy and it makes me ill.
This, I like:
"You could see the signs of female aging as diseased, especially if you had a vested interest in making women to see them your way. Or you could see that if a woman is healthy she lives to grow old; as she thrives, she reacts and speaks and shows emotion, and grows in her face. Lines trace her thought and radiate from the corners of her eyes after decades of laughter, closing together like fans as she smiles. You could call the lines a network of 'serious lesions,' or you could see that in a precise calligraphy, thought has etched marks of concentration between her brows, and drawn across her forehead the horizontal creases of surprise, delight, compassion, and good talk. A lifetime of kissing, of speaking and weeping, shows expressively around a mouth scored like a leaf in motion. The skin loosens on her face and throat, giving her features a setting of sensual dignity; her features grow stronger as she does. She has looked around in her life, and it shows. When gray and white reflect in her hair, you could call it a dirty secret or you could call it silver and moonlight. Her body fills into itself, taking on gravity like a bather breasting water, growing generous with the rest of her. The darkening under her eyes, the weight of her lids, their minute cross-hatching, reveal that what she has been part of has left in her its complexity and richness. She is darker, stronger, looser, tougher, sexier. The maturing of a woman who has continued to grow is a beautiful thing to behold.
Or, if your ad revenue or your seven-figure salary or your privileged sexual status depend on it, it is an operable condition." ~~~ Naomi Wolf
I'm just going to stop here and let myself and everyone who reads this take a pause to decide just how manipulated we are willing to be in this life, and whether we have the courage to stand up to what is false, pull the curtain down, expose the Wizard, and go home to Kansas, where a woman is a woman, and a catfish doesn't buy toilet paper.