Beauty comes from the inside, my mother told me. “Smiling is the best face lift,” she said. Wrong. I love my life. But smiling hasn’t taken the bags under my eyes overseas. Call me Judas for betraying my “natural ageing” beliefs, but I’m asking myself: To nip or not to nip. To betray one’s beliefs or look like a train wreck, the new computer or the new face? That is the question.
Share your views and experiences of cosmetic work and plastic surgery with me.
From today’s The Australian
“ONE day it will happen to you,” my readers used to warn me years ago as I lambasted Botox with such vitriol that I had plastic surgeons writing me hate-mail and readers saying, “Just wait!”
I wasn’t afraid of ageing. I’m part of the “healthy-ageing” movement, as opposed to anti-ageing; I’m with the leading scientists and doctors around the world who abhor surgery and artifice and do research to help us achieve longevity rather than using chemicals and surgery to redress nature’s work.
I was twice a speaker at the International Conference on Healthy Ageing and Longevity and have been happily committed to eating blueberries and red grapes to boost the body’s resveratrol and DHEA reserves, and to standing on my head in yoga positions, toning the skin and the thyroid.
But readers, it happened to me! Recently I started noticing bags around my eyes. Having had successful laser surgery for my short-sightedness six months before, I figured that the puffiness was related. My wonderful eye doctor, Dr Ilan Sebban, explained that it wasn’t and sent me upstairs to a colleague to confirm. She was, I then realised, a plastic surgeon. Cont…
The cost is exorbitant and many procedures require regular revisits. But that hasn’t stopped consumers. Australians spend $1 billion a year on cosmetic enhancements, according to this year’s medical Cosmetex conference. Our industry grew by 10-20 per cent last year.
In the spirit of healthy ageing, I recently went back to university – to follow my creative passions so I could FEEL fabulous. Beauty comes from the inside, my mother told me. “Smiling is the best facelift,” she said.
Wrong. I love my new life. But smiling hasn’t taken the bags under my eyes overseas. Call me Judas but I’m asking myself: to nip or not to nip? To betray one’s beliefs or look like a train wreck? The new computer or the new face? Admissions, experiences and points of view dearly wanted on my blog, and you can post under a pseudonym.
POST COMMENTS BELOW!
This can be a difficult transition. We don’t have to dissappear though [probably my issue], We are gorgeous when we allow all that we have learned to flow through with just a hint of haughty dignity. From a good friend from Sweden, “We [men] learn to cook from old pots. ” I would love to renovate the facade but fear and finances hold me back. Love your honesty and bravery
It has been interesting seeing the variety of responses……in the end though, what is it that is more important to you?
Truth or beauty?
I had prepared an entirely different post, however, many of the previous posts sum up my ideas – most succinctly and profoundly put by your Mum :). I am ten years younger than you and have followed your column for many years, particularly resonating throughout my 20’s when I was most deeply connected to my inner journey (and the most time to indulge). However, lately I have started to judge you as derailing from your original insights into the spirit and soul. It has seemed to me that you have instead been travelling more in the direction of collusion with the by-products of ugly capitalism. This column and discussion has given me much to think about in terms of opening my mind to where we each sit in our world at any given time (the only certainty is uncertainty!). Self-righteousness when judging others seems the easiest option, however in reality we are often the harshest judges of ourselves. Ruth, thank you for having the courage to express your vulnerabilities openly throughout your life journey and to challenge others to examine their own attitudes and fragilities more deeply.
Cosmetic surgeons can do lots of amazing things but they can’t make us look young again. The loss of fresh youthfulness is as inevitable as all of life’s cycles. Tightening loose skin, rearranging fatty deposits may change our looks but nothing can bring back that intangible freshness of youth. Grieve the loss (and all that it represents) if it saddens you, choose surgery or chemicals if it helps the process. But we must be honest with ourselves–we always look our age. Our journey through life is too precious, too much a part of who we are, to be hidden so easily. Honour it.
Head over to your bookstore and order a copy of ‘Five Minute Facelift’ by Reinhold Benz! This is a collection of facial excercises which tone and strengthen the muscles that lie under, and are attached to the skin of your face. They only take about five minutes a day and keep the face firm. They hold turkey wattles and squirrel pouches at bay.
I have no objection to fine lines and the odd wrinkle; they add character to a face-far preferable to an expressionless botoxed mask, but I draw the line at sags and bags! !Whatever works for these, go for it if you can’t live with them, but for God’s sake, in moderation! and good old cucmber slices on the under-eye bags!
You look absolutely fine to me, anyway…
I had the lower eye lift done when I was 25. No, I’m not a plastic surgery junky.
But I had the fat pad-sliding/puffy eye thing at 24 – apparently it happens early for some people. A genetic thing, apparently.
Anyway after about a year of angst, endless tubes of concealer and friends and strangers alike telling me how tired I looked, I took the plunge.
By the way I’m someone who has always hated and distrusted plastic surgery. I researched the process so much I could have performed it on someone else by the end. I was terrified I would end up as a before/after photo in Woman’s Day. I found a surgeon who specialised in eye surgery and whose credentials were second-to-none in my city.
Anyway, the whole thing was over in the blink of an eye (ha) and I was going out in less than a week.
Oh and my eyes were back to normal. To this day no one except my boyfriend at the time knows. I couldn’t believe how quick, simple and painless it was and how much I’d agonised over it.
So if you can afford it and the bags are bothering you enough for you to write a column on it – go for it.
Missy (a pseudonym), Brisbane, age 29.
Hi Ruth! Lots of women read your column in the Weekend Australian so you are in a good position to point society in the right direction, in this case to encourage women to feel comfortable in their own bodies, without surgical intervention. We should not feel pressured by society into thinking we have to look younger than we really are. I’m fifty, getting a bit grey and baggy, but I’m a human being, alive, and content to be so! 🙂
Ruth Ruth Ruth! “To betray one’s beliefs or look like a train wreck?” – what were you thinking – beauty comes from within, and providing we look after our health and fitness -us older chicks can look awesome – so embrace the changes gracefully!
You only have to make yourself happy. The person that gives us the most trouble throughout our lives is the one that looks back at us from the mirror.
Thats very funny Alan in its ability to open itself to interpretation. As in its not possible to improve my column because the column is so dreadful, or its not possible to improve myself… I know what you meant but lucky I am not having one of my insecure days.
Ruth. On further reflection, if the surgery will improve your column then go ahead and do it. I can’t see that that’s possible. I only know you through your column where your appearance doesn’t matter. That seems to me to be very good. I’m prepared to believe that you know best about the rest of you.
Hi Ruth, if it genuinely feels like the right thing for YOU, then do it. Ensure your research, advice and medico’s are quality. Most of all, ensure your self esteem and self worth are in tact, regardless of how you look. Externals are no replacement for happiness with oneself and one’s life. Ever.
Thankyou for asking our opinions! Here’s mine – a considered one, which has come from much the same kind of beliefs and thought processes as those you expressed in your column.
As I get older (and we are similar in age I think) and my perspective changes, much that I felt strongly about once kind of goes out the window. Such as how children should behave – many of my strong convictions on that subject changed when I mine did not measure up to my own sanctimonious standards of perfection!
On the subject of whether or not to live in my face as it disintegrates and people respond to me accordingly ….. well, while I realise that how I respond to myself is the most important thing the fact is, I do like to look good when I look in the mirror!
I’m thinking botox for those deep wrinkles between my eyes. I really am, and to hell with the consequences. I’m thinking (and I have acted on this one) HRT so I continue to feel great and vibrant and sexy and to hell with those consequences too.
So my considered advice to you Ruth, is the hell with it. Do what makes you feel vibrant and sexy and look good according to your own measure. Do it! Get the bags done! And take us all through the process with you.
Most beautiful woman today is Susan Boyle. Beautiful voice, beautiful heart, beautiful soul. Visit a hospital and see people with REAL problems.
Lizette above is on the right track- avoid the mirror or at least be like me- never look at it with your reading glasses on!
Get the body fit and well groomed and forget that mutton dressed up as lamb -nonsense.
It’s a bit like expensive clothes- from a blokes point of view – believe me – we instinctively know a good sort- no matter how she is dressed.
I did too, then I got older… and certainly no wiser. Think it must be the lack of hormones playing havoc with my brain
Honestly, self acceptance is the basic ritual of maturity. Why do we all worship at the altar of beauty? Do I miss my younger complexion and feel dismay at the lines that deepen on my face? Of course. Am I going to do anything about this 60+ body? No. I agree with previous comments – share the mega dollars spent on shallow endeavours with the many who desperate need them to simply survive. I really thought you were above all this Ruth.
Dear Ruth, be like Audrey Hepburn and age gracefully – what on earth is wrong about lines on the face/neck etc? just because youth is worshipped here do you have to do it too? Peer presure?
Value yourself and get your priorites straight – advice (solicited!) from a 75 year old with lotsa wrinkles, mum of 4, grandmum of many more!
When considering the road to embracing the nip and tuck, I see three major hurdles on the path.
1. The aging process is change; it is good, it is inevitable, embrace it.
2. Plastic surgery and botox do not make a woman look younger.
3. The amount of money such procedures cost, could change people’s lives.
THE CHANGING FACE – Why don’t women alternatively accept the changing face of our lives and laugh at it. Be proud of our experiences and wear them softly, allowing ourselves to be exactly where we are in life today. We don’t have to go grey and blue rinse and wear tent dresses. We have the opportunity to develop a new standard view of the elegantly ageing woman in the 21st century, setting an intelligent example for our younger sisterhood and breaking the vicious cycle of expectation placed on us by the ultimate greed of the beauty industry. Be happy to look like you, not like her, and her, and a bit like her.
Or would we rather feel pressured to look like an army of blank faced wannabes?
SORRY, BUT YOU STILL LOOK YOUR AGE – Injected and filled out faces just look like a weird ironed out version of themselves.
A woman’s experiences, pain, losses, loves and heartbreak are all in her eyes. In the depth of character you see when those eyes are looking out. No surgery can replace this human feature for the innocence and naivety seen only in the eyes of people under 28.
We all recognise altered faces when we see them, and we are left strangely unmoved and unconvinced of any successful shedding of the years.
If you were to start the nipping at the beginning of the aging process, a. When do you stop? and b. The discord between eyes and face becomes only more pronounced as time goes on.
THE COST – Without wanting to sound like a preacher, get things in perspective and realise that the money thrown at such groundless and selfish procedures could seriously have a far more positive effect on actually saving lives in many scenarios around the world.
If you don’t like your bags, try the eye treatments that freeze and tighten the skin around the eye which I sampled once in a shopping centre and thought were too expensive and unnecessary to my life, but did seem to have a miraculous non permanent effect.
Spend the hundred or so dollars on that, give the rest of the money to a worthy cause, and see if the good you feel from the inside makes a difference to your outlook on what’s important and what is beautiful, and then comes shining through your happy self-accepting eyes.
I encourage you to be your own beautiful as you age, not some universal mould of perfectionist beauty which we really do know, deep down, is a gift given to the few and is just not us.
just turned 50
I hear you!! I have just turned 48 and it is confronting when you look in a mirror and start to see the aging process taking its toll on those once well loved assets. So my friend and I have a theory that it is actually better to STOP LOOKING IN MIRRORS, except when you are dressed to go out and you are looking fabulous! Also don’t look down, its a really bad perspective that only you ever see. After 40 there is not enough moisturiser in the world so carry moisturiser with you everywhere. You are such a wise woman as I have followed your commentaries on life over the years….and I think your mind and wit are assets that can never be bought in a plastic surgeons office! Go and look at some books depicting smiling, happy, wrinkly mature women from all over the world and remind yourself what true beauty is, and never betray your inner beliefs…they are the jewels in you life…not your face.
You are so funny my beautiful friend, I never thought of it that way 🙂
As a man: ditto to Rod’s comments. Beauty is a dynamic thing which reflects the best of you at any age. When you start tinkering you have crossed a line and it is easy to just take it a little further…
As a medico: every procedure has risks associated, no matter how unlikely. I am a firm believer in only having procedures done which are absolutely necessary, where to NOT have something done would be a risk to your health.
Hello again, old friend
But be warned. If you go ahead and look any younger than you do now, there is a very good chance, our friendship will also go under the knife. Think about all your girlfriends who decide to go with the flow of age and decide to let it sag, crease, puff out, wedge a bit, go grey, wear flannels to bed. How is a friendship meant to survive that nip and that tuck or two I ask you? Just make sure you make lots of new (young) friends at the surgeon’s waiting room.
One lady I saw today after she’d been to the hairdresser for four hours has the right attitude ,”Now I look 60, instead of 61,” she quipped. And for anyone who hasn’t seen ‘Ash Wednesday’, the movie with Liz Taylor, it’s a classic tale of not having a hope in hell of ever bringing back youth, no matter how beautiful a face can be made to look.
Just imagine us old ‘natural’ gals in a nursing home, playing rummy, and in you walk after your 10th lift, looking 85 instead of 88. Imagine the looks we’ll give you. Is it really worth it?
Come join us in our flannels. They’re really comfy.
Both the options you are contemplating (computer or new face) are self indulgent from a non-western, non-priviledged perspective. If you have that money to spare (and still have a working computer) send the money to International Women’s Development Agency [IWDA] for use with women whose needs are far more basic – clean water, freedom from hunger, violence, exploitation etc etc etc. Being a “good person” is far more worthy than having a “new face’.
Well Ruth, if i can bring a blush to your cheeks then my work here is done! I think my 44 year old partner is the most beautiful woman I know, and that is not only because of her intelligence but also her natural looks. Beauty is SO much more than skin deep…..
Ahh you see now Rod you have brought a blush to my cheeks — and blushing is very invigorating and nourishing for the skin.
You are so sweet. I feel very blessed by yours, and Rod’s message. There is so much to feel inadequate about in this competitive world, i feel like I’ve only just gotten over the difficulties and fragilities of adolescence and now I’m dealing with the difficulties and fragilities of menopause 🙂 Funny how my teenage daughter and i are both going through the same thing — but her with the skin issues being of having too many hormones, and mine being of having not enough!
Ruth, we like you as you are.
you look fine to me Ruth can we then suppose you are digitally altered?
All I can say Ruth is NO NO NO! I have been reading your columns for years and am quite a fan,(a little crush perhaps?) but have never commented. As a 48 year old guy who is getting more than his fair share of laughter lines I think that nothing looks lovelier than a beautiful woman ageing gracefully. Leave the smooth skin to the young and embrace the inevitable. I think many men out there will agree with me. Maturity is very alluring.
She will read this and be pleased Philip 🙂
Hi Alan and others, yes we are brainwashed. But I think the issue is HOW we age. I love lines on people, laugh lines, even grief lines. They are so human and are hard earned with every day we live. Its just that some of us don’t age well in certain parts and it isn’t just a matter of lines, its a matter of a goosey neck or a double chin and jowls for no other reason than there aren’t natural or rather “genetics” cheek bones to hold up that part of the face. Society is cruel and I see people all the time who would be better off with a tiny nip and tuck, not the whole plastic fantastic thing which is so dreadful, rather a subtle lift here or there to stop the worst of the sag. More opinions please?
I have a theory that throughout a females formative years she is brainwashed to believe that the only thing that really matters about her is her appearance. If you go expensively under the knife you will convince me that your brainwashing took. Not that you will care what I think! I’m an 85yo man.
Listen to your mother!If there are any they would be Louis Vuiton and not Globite bags any way! Because you look great!!
I realise that is mostly about genetics. and a generous environment, but we are who we are let’s celebrate it . I am 74 but no doubt its downhill for most part of me from here but I rejoice that I am live and will one day be missed.
I sympathise with your dilemma. It’s disconcerting to see changes which don’t seem to fit with the real you.
Plastic surgery or other less invasive procedures are tempting, but it usually results in a worked-on look, and also, shouldn’t we be celebrating rather than denying our years?
Something I have found which brings a subtle but noticeable improvement, is Facercise. Years ago my sister gave me a little book on Facercise by Carole Maggio- I was surprised and initially thought it was a joke. It wasn’t, but as she is my identical twin, how could I be offended?
The book itself has before and after photos of women who have practised facercise. Some of the photos seem plausible, some definitely not, including the face of the author, which looks surgically changed.
I have however, tried the exercises, and they do really work if you are quite diligent with them. I have become an expert at sneaking in some of the exercises as I wait at traffic lights. I hope I am an expert at it, but being seen doing them surely can’t be as bad as inspecting for, and removing, random facial hairs, and I have been guilty of that!
I do recommend trying these exercises. They work on the facial musculature, building strength and tone to achieve a firmer fuller look to the face, while increasing circulation and lymphatic drainage. The process works, just as working out other parts of the body improves underlying structure as well as appearance. If you look at people who give their faces regular, vigorous workouts, like opera singers, they usually have well muscled and defined faces.
Keep your own great face! If you let a surgeon cut into muscle and other tissue, it will achieve some changes, but the muscles won’t have done any work to get there, and will have been damaged in the process.
I live in Perth have just read your article. I can’t believe you would give in to such a deceptive temptation. We are all tempted from time to time to try to avoid the obvious. I am a 74 year old who has resisted The wrinkles are obvious, face neck especially my legs and I hate them. Despite that pleny think I am only 60 +. ‘One tennis friend actually asked to see my driver’s licence to prove it’ You don’t really have puffy eyes, and no one else would notice them anyway ,your smile is what others see. A face isn’t about the skin it’s a reflection of what you are thinking to the truly perceptive.
Thanks Mum have posted your letter to me above. Hope you don’t mind that i am taking it public but you make some very important points. Ruth x
This is ftom my Mum
Hi darling just read your article, as usual, very succinct and enjoyable. But am horrified and disappointed that you would consider, Fillers!!! Botox [poison]!! or just a nip and tuck. What a travesty to alter your expression and damage or worse your lovely face!! You look a decade younger anyway, and what does it matter!! A few lines and bags make you have character and softness [necessary for beauty and sweetness!!] also it can be dangerous.!! Do you want to look like Madonna, poor woman!! Why is this such a talking point. The world is in turmoil, people are getting injections and surgery for cancer and Motor Neuron diseases, please do not sucumb to the empty narcissism, and more FOR WHAT!!!!!!! My opinion is to listen to your dear Mother!!! and KEEP SMILING!!!!
I’m 45 and have no desire to look 25. I do however want to look the best I can. I’ve been getting botox and juvaderm for five years now, and I see a great surgeon who has a real anti freak looking policy and simply refuses to do anything he feels will not look natural and complimentary. I don’t have a frozen forehead and I don’t have duck lips. Expectations need to be realistic and you have to have a surgeon who will tell you when you are not being realistic. If we choose to take treatment, we need to have a common sense approach to what we have as a starting point and work from there. It is ludicrous to attempt to look like someone else. The choice for me to have botox and juvederm is my choice, that said, I do not judge anyone who chooses not to. We are all individuals and the decisions to proceed or not are very personal.
I have big bags under my eyes but otherwise my face is great- oh yeah a couple of lines round my mouth- as I have always worn a hat. I see women at work with their faces looking really stretched and fake from even the best surgeons. I am 49 and have children in their mid twenties. I don’t want to look like them. Don’t get sucked into thinking we are only as good as we look. It’s the dominant (white middle class male) discourse but it’s shallow rubbish.
Ha ha ha! I will go as far as using PMSL – at your comment of two years living with a teenage daughter is the same as 10 human years!!! Well my eldest is only 14 and in the course of just 40 minutes this morning he aged me 5 years… And he has two younger brothers…I am going to require carbon dating by the time they finish the teens years!
On the actual topic – I had a tummy tuck a few years back and don’t regret it for a second. Approaching 40 and now looking at the eyes wondering ‘what if….’ Its got nothing to do with how others perceive me – just how I feel.
In all honesty MM, I think the point is some people really do have good genetics and good bone structure, and they age better than others. If you have some eye wrinkles and smile wrinkles but have great cheek bones, then you are just going to look sexy and a bit of a cougar (or for men “Mature”) But if it all goes to putty, then it isn’t for the bone privileged to sneer. Or is it? More views please, especially after the story is published on line after midnight (and in The Weekend Australian Magazine tomorrow)
Maybe your friend did feel desperate. Is it for us to judge so harshly? Especially those of who are blessed with lovely necks?
I know a male friend who had a neck lift. I was horrified. I don’t think men should do these sorts of things. When men start dyeing their hair that dreadful black or it goes that strange orange, I just feel sorry for them. I don’t think it looks good rather makes them look like they are desperate. Next step gold chain! Watch out.
Exactly the point I make in the column. My readers all used to say “Wait till it happens to you!” They will be smiling now… if their botox allows it.
Hi Simple Simon, who not so simple 🙂 It is only a couple of years old but it did come from a professional photo shoot, and was shot in the most flattering light, and of course it isn’t a close up. No it wasn’t photoshopped. And all I can say is that two years living with a teenager daughter, is like ten human years.
Which just goes to prove the belief I’ve had for a long time which is women don’t use current photos of themselves on websites. The woman who is in your photo up here looks young taut and terrific. Not a wrinkle on that peachy skin. So if you have bags under your eyes and are thinking of cosmetic work then how old is your photo? Or have you had it photoshopped?
Hey Ruth, I have had a bit of work on myself, but have chosen a psuedonym so no one knows its me. Actually it is such subtle work that no one has realised I’ve had it. I had some filler injected into the creases around my mouth, a small eye lift to take away the fat around the eye lids that were making it difficult for me to see, and a small nip n tuck around the chin. I feel great and look great, and all I can say is that people who are against it haven’t started ageing yet.
I’m a long time fan but I’m nervous to read this one. I thought you were a natural girl through and through. What about all those years in Byron Bay doing yoga, and telling us all about healthy ways to age “gracefully”? In one of your columns you wrote about losing girl friends to cancer. You said ageing is a privilege not a curse. I hope the column reinforces this and you are just using catchy headings.