April 28, 2008

"I have to restore myself to not looking ridiculous."

A quote from Courtney Love, talking (only!) about getting her face redone after screwing it up with plastic surgery. From an article about bad plastic surgery, linked by Glenn Reynolds, who says: "My theory is that certain celebrities and socialites are around so many people who've had lots of work done that what looks weird to everyone else just looks normal to them."

But what is normal? The standard is constantly changing, and these socialites and celebrities are on the leading edge of that change. We've already adjusted to some of the things that looked abnormal to us a few years back. In a few years, seeing a smooth, tight, immobile face won't cause us look awry... and that's assuming our own faces will retain any capacity to look awry.


somefeller said...

"But what is normal? The standard is constantly changing, and these socialites and celebrities are on the leading edge of that change."

Exactly. It wasn't so long ago that tattoos or shaved heads were a look that set you apart from everyone else. Similarly, some measure of cosmetic surgery will be the new normal, and already is among a lot of women I know. If the work is done well, people won't immediately notice that you've had some work done, just that you're looking better. From what I've seen most of the opposition to cosmetic surgery is just a mixture of luddite skepticism towards technology that improves human life, and barely-masked class resentment. Here's an example of a nice new procedure, laser liposuction. It's a good way to get that jawline nice and sharp.

That having been said, Courtney Love did get too much work done. She's naturally attractive, and went overboard with the work.

George M. Spencer said...

In the 1970s, MGM released three "That's Entertainment" movies—greatest movie moments collections.

On the DVD of one of the films a documentary shows stars of the 1930s-1950s at a gala honoring the movie.

All the elderly movie stars look like Nebraska farmers..and Nebraska farmers' wives. The men are paunchy or wizened in awkward tuxedos. Some like Johnny Weismuller are pot bellied. The women, especially Lucille Ball, for the most part look like anyone's elderly aunt.

They looked like real people, the kind us hicks could identify with.

I saw the new Demi Moore movie "Flawless." (Don't go...it's lousy.) I spent most of the movie wondering what had to be done to get her to look they way she looked—Frozen and brittle. Meanwhile, co-star Michael Caine looked like a biscuit left in the rain.

Ralph L said...

There will be a huge business in tattoo removal in a few years. Who thinks a fake, puffy upper lip is attractive? At Shirley Plantation in Virginia, the daughters of the house altered their portraits to reduce the upper lip when that was the fashion in the early Victorian era. They didn't say if they'd trained themselves to hide it in person, at a time when makeup was for whores, verbotten for gentlewomen.

Ralph L said...

Why can't over-40 movie stars find the happy medium between boney and Rubenesque? The gaunt look makes them look older, not younger.

Fen said...

I've forgotten the term that best describes this. Its similar to tolerance levels with drunks.

The best example I can think of at the moment is some people who use tanning beds. After several sessions, they lose their "baseline" perspective and continue to tan until they look ridiculous, to everyone but themselves.

Lil help?

Anonymous said...

There's a new children's book called "My Beautiful Mommy" that explains to little Brittney why mommy looks different upon returning home from some cosmetic procedure (like acquiring giant new yammies).

Clearly it's time to refamiliarize the masses with Herman's Law. First a key definition:

Herman: A cubic mouthful of (to use the vernacular) tit.

The Law: Any more than one Herman is a waste.

Plastic surgeons have for decades made every effort to suppress this fundamental contribution to feminine knowledge. Revolt, girls. Ask that special someone to assist you in gathering critical empirical data before you, too, spend your hard earned money in [further] violation of Herman's Law. Ignorance is no longer an excuse.

This message brought to you by Biker Chicks for Gendered Science.

KCFleming said...

But what is normal?

I suppose we may be moving to a future where looking like a freakish parody of actual humans becomes the basis for what is called 'beautiful', but I will even then feel free to mock the transition as merely a high tech but ultimately fruitless denial of death.

It reminds me of Orwell's 1984:

"It had got to be written down, it had got to be confessed. What he had suddenly seen in the lamplight was that the woman was old. The paint was plastered so thick on her face that it looked as though it might crack like a cardboard mask. There were streaks of white in her hair; but the truly dreadful detail was that her mouth had fallen a little open, revealing nothing except a cavernous blackness. She had no teeth at all."

Dennis said...

"In a few years, seeing a smooth, tight, immobile face won't cause us look awry..."

I disagree. Human faces are one of the most important parts of our environment. The ability to recognize faces starts early in life and uses a lot of cerebral real estate.

I think it is much easier to get used to faces that are of a different ethnicity than it is to get used to faces that have been significantly surgically altered.

There is an unavoidable creepiness to faces that are nearly human, but not quite. Animated films seem to deal this by either not showing showing human faces, or by making it clear that you are watching a cartoon, and not a movie.

Swifty Quick said...

This is just a necessary phase.

ricpic said...

Symmetry is the standard of attractiveness. It always has been and always will be irregardless of race, culture or gender. The closer to symmetrical the features, the more attractive the person; the less symmetrical, the less attractive. Even the blatantly fat or terribly thin are attractive provided they are even featured.

Ralph L said...

The closer to symmetrical the features, the more attractive the person; the less symmetrical, the less attractive
That may be true, for similar faces, but I find those perfectly symmetrical CGI faces repulsive. Too much of a good thing?
Your last sentence is hogwash. A double chin is still a flab of fat, regardless of symmetry.

MadisonMan said...

I have to restore myself to not looking ridiculous

If you're paying someone to make you look less ridiculous than your last plastic surgeon, you're already looking ridiculous regardless of the outcome.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that there are a couple of facets to this. One is that many women in our society are used to the fact that their sex opens doors for them. Then, one day, after maybe 40 years of this treatment, they wake up one morning, and are invisible. Old women can't breed, and looking old sends the message that the woman is no longer capable of breeding, and, thus, that men should look elsewhere for such.

Before you jump on men, remember, that they are wired this way, and that is for a reason - to keep them from wasting precious resources on women who cannot help them secure their genetic immortality.

Also, this is primarily right now an issue with the Baby Boom generation, the first youth oriented generation. But now they are starting to look like their grandparents when they were growing up.

One final point, that HDTV, etc. are redefining the level of perfection required of those on TV and in movies. So, you are finding news babes in their 30s having work done to cover stuff that a couple of years ago, the cameras would have missed. Not any more.

Ralph L said...

Bring out the Barbara Walters Magic Gauze Filter! Or is it just Vaseline on the lens?
Sometimes the makeup required for TV lights makes people look really weird, too.

Ron said...

In Courtney's case, isn't it something like locking the barn after the horse face has been applied?