Main Line Gossip: “She’s Had Work Done”

The pressure to age beautifully is everywhere.

“She’s had work done.” I recently heard this, whispered sotto voce by the Main Line mavens sitting at the table next to me at Tango. Naturally my neck swiveled at headache-inducing speed to see who they were taking about. Ah, it was a friend of mine, who I know for a fact has had no plastic surgery at all.

What she has had done is just about every other non-invasive procedure available. I should know, we go to the same plastic surgeon. Our doctor (Jason Bloom in Ardmore, might as well give him a plug) is conservative about when to use the knife—not because he’s not a good surgeon (I know which ladies at Tango have had work done), but because he has so many other non-invasive treatments at his disposal that delay the need for surgery. Let’s face it: The knife is expensive and permanent, and I’ll put that off as long as I can!

Among my friends, we’ve had the following: injections, including Juvederm and Restylane, Botox, radio-frequency treatments called Pelleve and Thermage, spider vein treatments, Fraxel (a laser-resurfacing treatment), chemical peels and IPL, which stands for intense pulsed light. I’m sure there’s lots of other stuff available; this is just the list of what I and my posse have had done. And while some of these procedures might cause bruising or swelling, by and large, they are all procedures with minimal pain, requiring no general anesthesia and very little downtime, if any.

So I save my pennies and run off to the doctor’s office when I see the sags and bags of middle age, and you know why? Because whoever said we should grow old gracefully lived in a cave in Montana. Young girls aren’t the only ones who are bombarded with media images of beauty. There are plenty of older female celebrities, models and everyday folk out there who are old—and beautiful. I saw Rita Moreno on the news last night pitching some project she’s working on, and I couldn’t believe my ears when she said she was 80. I know they use fuzzy lenses and all but, come on, she’s fit and gorgeous. And I don’t need to turn on the TV to see examples; they’re right here in my back yard. Has anyone seen Julia Harmelin lately? Unbelievable.

I raised my daughter to believe in herself, to avoid the media circus and to embrace her inner beauty, all in an attempt to shore up her self-image, to shield her from the incessant bombardment of unrealistic standards of beauty that are depicted all around her. And then I fall into the same trap. I tell her it’s “maintenance” instead of “improvement” as a justification for having a little this and that done but, really, it’s the same insecurity at middle age that I warn her about as a young adult.

What to do? Move to a cave in Montana? Age gracefully? Nah, I’m saving pennies.