Looking ones best has its place. Aside from those occasional, horrible days when Im in such a bad mood that looking shitty just completes the whole effect and I choose an ugly shirt on purpose, I like feeling good about myself, and Im definitely willing to put some effort into my physical appearance to achieve that well-being. However, its where I draw the line that is significant. I put time and energy into my "upkeep," but I will not do anything that requires anesthesia. If its necessary for me to hire the services of a medical doctor, I need to do a little rethinking and a lot of re-prioritizing.
This can be very challenging in Los Angeles, which, for all intents and purposes, has become synonymous with "Hollywood." L.A. has become a city known for its citizens major-league renovations of The Body: liposuction, face lifts, breast implants, chin implants, eye jobs, nose jobs, blah, blah, etc. More choices than on the menu at Jerrys Deli. I have not had any plastic surgery. When I was 13, I wanted a nose job (also known as rhinoplasty, as in, "My God, your nose is as huge as a rhinoceros horn. Step into my office immediately"). Actually, both my sister and I wanted nose jobs more than anything even more than accordion lessons, in my sisters case. And we both knew that the chances of us getting our noses done were slim. You must realize that my father wouldnt even pay for Drivers Ed., so he wasnt about to spring for uninsured, elective plastic surgery for his teenage daughters, even if we could have used it. But boy, did I ever want a nose job. All of my friends were getting them. Rhonda got a nose job. Then Ivy did. Then Stacy. Then Ilene. Unfair. "If all of your friends jumped off the George Washington Bridge, would you do that, too?" If I could get a nose job at the bottom, yes. At that time, there were these two doctors who did pretty much all of the nose jobs in the Tri-State area: Dr. Diamond and Dr. Sinelli. You could tell which doctor had done which nose by certain signature nuances left on their patients new probosci. A nostril flare here, an upturn there. I was leaning toward a Dr. Diamond nose myself, but I could have lived with a Sinelli. Im no snob. My prospects looked grim. If I even barely mentioned the idea of a nose job, my father would go into some tirade about Kids Today and their cockeyed values, think they got everything coming to them, why I oughtta . . . . Then my mother would chastise him for his insensitivity, hed counter with an unresolved argument from the 50s, and Id slip away and slink upstairs where my nose and I could be alone. On those many melancholy adolescent nights, I would go to sleep face down, my nose scrunched in and up against the pillow, hoping that when I got up for school in the morning, I would have a brand new pug nose. I was 13, I was in seventh grade, I was desperate. But finally, when I was 15, my mother caved and said that she would pay for me to get a nose job out of her private savings account. (Apparently, shed created an emergency nose-job fund.) Oh, joy! Finally, someone understands! Then, about a month later, she reneged because of some minor argument we had, which culminated in her telling me I was "fresh." When youre 15, the term "Youre fresh" pretty much means that theres not going to be any nose job. No nose job, no television. The range of punishment for "fresh" is very broad, and it sticks. It became clear that I was never going to get the nose I deserved. And I never did. To tell you the truth, Im almost 100 percent glad that I didnt, because its one less trapping of the pressures of show business to which I have not yet succumbed. The key word there is "yet." Because I believe all of us, even the most seemingly selfless of us, get to a point in life when we consider how far we will go to just look good. The question is, at what point does it cease to be good grooming and become obsessive, insatiable vanity? I dont know. Im no expert. Im just a woman without a nose job. Im 41 now, and I have great skin. Im lucky, and I know it. But there are still days when I stand in front of the mirror and pull back the skin at my temples ever so slightly just a little. Amazing what it does. Just that little bit. So tempting. Its insidious. It always starts with "just a little." Ive seen it happen. You start with one thing, maybe a nose; and then you do one more thing, maybe a teensy eye lift; and then just a touch of collagen for the lips; and minor implants for the cheekbones . . . Before you know it, you do not in the least resemble the person you were born to be. Youve become a Recyclable Plastic Human™. And whats the point of doing all this, anyway? "It makes me feel better about myself." No. Not really. It makes you think you feel better about yourself, until something else on you begins to droop and you trot off to another doctor (with a storefront like an auto-body shop) to get that thing lifted, or sucked, or set, or whatever it is that its not doing by itself. Because: ITS NOT SUPPOSED TO! Its nature. We are human beings, and our bodies will age. Thats the fact. I dont mean to sound callous, but come on. Get a grip. Take a seminar on self-acceptance. Do you know anyone who is truly happier after getting a collagen injection? Aside from the fact that the shot is over? Look, I am no pathological earth-chick. I possess my share of vanity. If theres a mirror in the room, I will be looking into it. Often. Not to admire myself, but to make sure that nothing is terribly wrong with my face, like theres a piece of toast stuck on my cheek that no ones mentioning. I also love to buy makeup, although to look at me, youd hardly know it. I barely wear any, but I love playing with it. I am a sucker for Clinique bonuses ("gift-with-purchase"). I probably have 12 little travel-size bottles of Dramatically Different (actually, its Unremarkably Similar) Moisturizing Lotion teetering on a shelf in my medicine cabinet as I write this. After an earthquake, Caltech calls me: "How many bottles fell?" "Four point six." I own about 40 lipsticks, last time I counted, and Im sure Ill be buying more. In fact, Im buying two more today: Verve and Frou. I have to have them. Dont try to stop me. I love to play in the makeup department. You can leave me there for hours and I wont get bored. I wish I were there right now. But thats makeup. Cosmetics. Temporary. Were talking about cosmetic surgery. Forever. Makeup comes off. A nose job is for life. Makeup is like going through your moms old clothes and playing dress-up. As opposed to having brown Quiana culottes permanently soldered to your ass. Im getting a facial next week. I cant wait. Ill be there for almost two hours. Everything will smell great, itll be really quiet, and Ill probably fall asleep. I love the part when they clean out my pores. Yum. (Sorry if that grosses you out, but women seem to love this squeezing-out of pore deposits. My theory is that we like expressing this goo because we dont ejaculate. Ive thought about this a lot.) After my facial, when I leave, I know Ill feel rested and relaxed (no small feat for me). Ill have a nice glow from that relaxation, and my skin will definitely be in better shape. It wont take three weeks for me to heal, or for the swelling to go down. I wont have to go back to the doctor to have any packing removed. And the best part is, Ill still basically look like me.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.