New York Times
February 10, 2002
Baby boomer babes don't want to be post-anything, even if it means freezing their faces into freakish death masks.
The Times's Alex Kuczynski wrote on Thursday about imminent F.D.A. approval for cosmetic use of Botox — the botulism neurotoxin — to paralyze muscles and erase wrinkles.
"It is now rare in certain social enclaves," she observed, "to see a woman over the age of 35 with the ability to look angry."
Women have put more faith in artifice than authenticity for ages.
Shakespeare wrote in his sonnets about women fighting " 'gainst Time's scythe" and "Time's thievish progress" by primping and painting — "fairing the foul with art's false borrow'd face."
From Victorian corsets to the silicone-gel bra, from hennaed hair and pupil-dilating belladonna drops to nose bobs and collagen-swollen lips, women have always sought to look younger and prettier and more fecund. According to Dr. Etcoff, men simply gravitate like zombies toward a "maximally fertile woman, or at least one who looks that way."
Feminism was supposed to release women from the tyranny of the unnatural ideal. But the ideal is more unnatural than ever. In the immortal words of Patricia Wexler, a New York dermatologist who caters to uncrinkled celebrities: "A scowl is a totally unnecessary expression."
The explosive popularity of Botox (men use it, too) is an irony wrapped in a paradox for women. After all these years of trying to train men to respond better to emotional cues, women are making it even harder by erasing the emotion from their faces.
Actresses are caught in a cosmetic Catch-22. They must look young to get juicy roles, so they do Botox, which makes it impossible to play juicy roles.
"Their faces can't really move properly," complained the "Moulin Rouge" director Baz Luhrmann, who pines for the frowns of yesterface.
A 44-year-old woman attempting to frown before & after Botox injection
Men long carped that women were not suited for the workplace or the White House because they were too transparently emotional. So now will men, confronted with blank-faced brigades of Botox babes, carp that women are too opaque and blasé?
are evolving backward — becoming more focused on their looks than ever.
The only "progress" is that some are now willing to own up to
extreme cosmetological exertions.
We may be at war with terrorists, but the cover of the new People magazine is a post-eye-job, creaseless Greta Van Susteren, who proclaims that with her plastic surgery, "I've made it safe for other people."
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