December 5, 2004

Why I can't watch Nancy Pelosi.

Nancy Pelosi is on Fox News Sunday this morning, and I'm just fast-forwarding through the whole thing. It's nothing she's saying. I'm not even going to wait to hear what she says. It's that crazily overlifted face. The eyebrows are halfway up the forehead, and the eyes are in the permanently over-opened position. (Is this the same face lift people were commenting on back in January, or has she had the facial flesh rolled up a few more notches?)

She looks perpetually surprised and startled. Just looking at her, I find myself raising my own eyebrows and opening my eyes too wide. How can a person who needs to be a good communicator subvert the expressive power of her own face? It's one thing to keep an impassive facial expression to avoid getting wrinkles, especially if you're only resisting frowning and scowling. But it's quite another to have your face surgically adjusted into what looks like a very emotional expression that never goes away. You can never get back to an expressionless face and you can never show a true emotion again. Whoever looks at you feels a sense of alarm, either because they are simply reacting to the expression they see on your face as if it were a real, human expression, or because they are horrified, thinking about what you actually did to get your face to look like that.

UPDATE: Sissy Willis agrees. You know, I don't have anything against plastic surgery per se. If people want to spend their money and go through all that pain and trouble, it's their business. My problem is with losing sight of what is good and bad, focusing on lines and sagginess, and not seeing the overall effect. This is probably the doctor's fault as much as the patient's. Lines and sagginess are objective facts, and the overall effect is more subjective. The doctor can say I removed the bags under your eyes and the hoods over them, didn't I? Wouldn't the patient have pointed to those specific things if he didn't? And if the overall effect is really weird and inhuman, the doctor can deny that. The patient may deny it too. I think it may be inherent in the nature of facial surgery that the work will focus on the objective flaws and not take enough account of the subjective look. I'm perfectly happy to have men and women make themselves more beautiful through surgery, but I'm afraid surgery will not only detract from beauty but will detract from the capacity to perceive beauty.

1 comment:

deewit said...

Bitchy envy!