As I sat there in the waiting room, I couldn’t help but notice the woman in the large dark sunglasses and big floppy hat to my right—don’t get me wrong I adore big accessories—I was sold on them the moment Audrey Hepburn tried to hail a NYC cab in Breakfast at Tiffany’s but this wasn’t a street in NY this was a doctor’s office..wait—I suddenly got it –it was a doctor’s office who specialized in Blepharoplasty, so maybe she’d had it done. Wait, before you google it—let me explain— It’s eyelid surgery.
And I was definitely considering having it done. You see several years ago when a psycho cat of mine jumped on my face while I was sleeping and ripped open my eyelid, I found myself in my GP’s office having my Rocky-esque eye checked. There was the tiniest of a scar at my eyelid edge but I took a few extra scars home with me that day and they’ve been with me ever since.
The doctor told me that eventually my eyelids would droop to the point my eye sight would be affected. Great, I get to look like a Shar Pei and walk into walls? Awesome, just what I was hoping for as I aged. She scanned my face and then quipped but if you get surgery done it won’t be cosmetic because, you know, you won’t be able to see through your droopy eyelids. Well, not in so many words, but that’s what I heard. That was about 9 years ago.
So when I started having problems with seeing and I noticed my eyelids were starting to look a little lazy, and moved with my makeup applicator, I thought I’d ask my dermatologist if I was finally a candidate. She said maybe and out of earshot her nurse leaned over to me and said, “It’s a shame you don’t live in Florida, they’d take you in a heartbeat”
Wow. That thud I heard was what was left of any self esteem I had.
So here I was in the office of the best eyelid surgeon in town—apparently he creates magic with lasers. Pink Floyd for Plastic surgery.
So I feigned interest in a 3 month old In Style magazine, and kept trying to catch a peek at “Audrey” across the room. She was having none of my intrusive staring –the side of her chapeau seemed to grow larger as she cocked her head sideways.
Suddenly they called my name and I was put in a room where I had to go through a series of eye tests. At one point my face was a picnic as my numbed eyelids were propped open with plastic tooth pic-y things..not comfortable at all but I figured if they discovered my eyesight was compromised by my lazy eyelids it was going to be worth it. I’d have 25 year old eyes again, people would marvel at how young I looked and makeup application would be a breeze.
Like most women in their 40’s, I look in the mirror and wonder where my youth went? When I smile, I now have google earth streaks springing from my eyes and those frown lines are getting deeper and deeper. I’ve never thought I was particularly attractive, I have odd features, and a non traditional look, but the days of having good skin, my one claim to fame, seem to be way behind me…and it happened fast. Too fast.
Suddenly the multitude of eye tests were over, and they showed me into a room and the eyelid magician appeared. He got right to the point. I would eventually be a candidate but my eyes were not bad enough yet for my insurance to pay for the 2500 procedure…I did some quick math in my head-so, realistically, how many mortgage payments could I skip ?…and then he started telling me about the procedure…a thin laser would cut away all of that extra skin and…suddenly the reality of cosmetic enhancement got a little too real. I wouldn’t be able to return to work for a week or two, I could expect bruising and for some people it was really profound, I wouldn’t be able to drive for a week…the incision would be in the natural fold of my eye…all of a sudden I started to feel a little queasy. Dr. Doolittle just seemed so cavalier..we’re talking lasers on my eyelids and he’s sounding like he’s running down the takeout menu at Jimmy Johns.
He handed me a tri-fold brochure and quickly left. I sat there for a minute feeling like I had fallen down the rabbit hole. Then I pulled out my compact from my purse. I looked at my eyes in the mirror and thought- you know maybe this isn’t such a good idea—maybe I can just tape the skin at my temples back and pull everything behind my hairline?
I walked out and noticed “Audrey” wasn’t in the waiting room any more either.
And then the Oscars happened. And then Liza Minnelli happened. And then Kim Novak happened.
As I read through all of the posts about plastic surgery disasters I got angry. This was especially true when I read the Twitter witch hunt going on about Kim Novak. You see in a weird conversion of worlds, that hit a little too close to home. Why? It is because I am named after her. The story goes that my oldest brother had a huge crush on her, so when I was born, he begged my Mom to name me after her. I’ve always joked that it’s a shame I didn’t get her looks too. I’ve seen most of her movies—and I used to marvel at her elegance and other worldly beauty.
As I scrolled through the commentary, I saw Donald Trump’s obsequious tweet and thought—wow—a man who is overweight and has possibly the worst comb over in history, felt it perfectly acceptable to tear down an 80 something actress who had work done in an industry that places an extreme amount of importance on looking good..and those standards have seeped into normal American life, because, whether you are former Hitchcock icy blonde or a 40 something Director of Marketing, if you are a female the standards are awfully high.
Whether it’s weight, the size of your breasts or the tightness of your face, if you are a woman hoop jumping is non-stop. Hell, maybe that is why my eyes look tired. I’m just plain exhausted. Still, it makes me angry that after all of the outcries, the love yourself just as you are campaigns, women still are expected to look a certain way . Just ask the human Barbie, she’s trying to become a “Breatharian”…all in the name of beauty by Matel.
I put away my computer and took a good, hard look at myself. In the big mirror. With no makeup on. I have freckles and new lines, and my skin is apparently showing the stress of the last few months. Then I leaned in really close and looked at my eyes.
Sure, my eye lids look like they are packing for a trip down South and eventually I may have to have surgery because I will lose peripheral vision, but I noticed something perhaps a bit more important. My eyes are pretty special—they change colors when my mood does, or when the light hits them…the blue is darker than my Dad’s but that’s his DNA staring back at me…and the eyelids, well those are my Mom’s…and so she’s still with me in a very tangible way too. These same eyes have seen the Eiffel Tower, St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and at least 12 pubs in the West Midlands of England. They have gazed upon the Mona Lisa, seen the gilded Versailles palace and watched sunsets off of Kiawah Island. They’ve seen people slip from this mortal coil and the face of a newborn. They’ve cried, laughed and given that stare I am famous for in some circles.
So maybe they aren’t perfect in a cosmetic sense but I am going to try and love them again. Maybe, I’ll listen to some Guess Who and pour through pictures of Shar Peis ..and maybe just maybe I will learn to love me..the me that is now.