Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Not At All What Was Planned

Hope in a bottle, a syringe, a scalpel, a diet. . .?
At least three, maybe four days each week, I sit in front of my computer and think: "What shall I write  today? What might be interesting, amusing, useful that I can share with you?" In other words, what can I put in this space that is not a waste of your precious time.

Truly, that is always paramount on my mind which brings me to today's subject. The idea grew out of your comments about arms, Botox, scary skinny versus healthy, re-worked faces and so on.

The late, "you can never be too rich or too thin," Duchess of Windsor.
While in Paris yesterday I had an appointment with my dermatologist, Valerie Gallais. As with all such occasions, I use them as interview opportunities thinking I can amass useful information for all of us. (That's how I got her tip last year about mixing self-tanner with our day creams.)

While sitting in her waiting room, playing word games on my Kindle, I watched a parade of women ranging in age from their teens to their 70s pass in and out of her office. Some were there no doubt for their annual total body check-ups, others for various problems and the teens for acne. Most, however, were waiting for their turns under the magic hands of Dr. Gallais for their Botox and/or filler injections. Her reputation is stellar.

Nicole Kidman
Her absolutely gorgeous 43-year-old assistant, Sabine, told me Dr. Gallais tries to encourage her patients to go light on the Botox so that their brows move, but most want what she referred to as the shiny, static Nicole Kidman look.

Jane Fonda
I often wonder what women think when they look in the mirror and see their new faces, ones that are often pretty, like Jane Fonda for example, but are the visages of another woman, a stranger. The new version has all the life experiences of the original, but they're hidden deep inside leaving no proof on the exterior.

Why can't we simply look the best we can for our ages, always and ever fighting the good fight, but at the end of the day, when we slather on our anti-age serums and night creams, we recognize the woman reflected back at us in the unkind light of our bathroom mirror?

How about a beauty tip?

Neither Dr. Gallais nor her assistant use eye cream.


Class factotum said...

I am constantly fighting the extra pounds that accumulate on my lower half. Alas, I never seem to gain up top. I have to remind myself - when I get a little too focused - that being thin will not make me a better person, a kinder person, a funnier person, a more generous person, a more gracious person. Being thin is just - being thin.

That said, I am fanatical about sunblock because being leathery and wrinkled prematurely would make me cranky.

LPC said...

I am hoping to have the guts to do as you describe. That said, I think most about Botox for my deep frown lines. Not because they age me, but because they make me look worried. And I am way worried now than when I was younger.

Deja Pseu said...

I've seen Botoxed women who look 25 from the bridge of the nose upward, and 55 everywhere else. And around here (LA), one sees some really freakish looking cosmetic surgery results, and I've wondered the same thing about not looking like oneself anymore. (And really, what does it accomplish when someone looks at your face and thinks, "cheek implants, nose job, lip injections"?

While I do like for my skin to look healthy and clear, I love what Ines dlF said in her book, (paraphrasing) "don't worry about the lines, just stand further back from the mirror."

There's that old saying that after 40 a woman has to choose between her face and her figure. Our faces often look better when we're carrying a *few* "extra" pounds.

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

Ok...the line that hit me is that they don't use eye cream. I get a little panicky without eye cream..what do they do instead? Anything? I do not see me every doing Botox..but then again two years ago I would have said I would NEVER write a style blog!! The blog ADVANCED STYLE always encourages me about how wonderful women can look as they are aging. I think smiling and being joyful is really important!!

cathalonia said...

Botox is the easy route. Lazy. Like hitting the remote control instead of getting up off the couch.

The writer Barbara Grizzutti Harrisson once observed that it is the effort to be beautiful which makes one so. I believe a little self-care in grooming and dressing is what makes a person beautiful, at any age--and what's more, conveys dignity. Botox, plastic surgery, etc. convey desperation. Never beautiful under any circumstances.

lilabraga said...

really? ...no eye cream at all? why?
Fabulous post today by the way!..and totally agree with you!

ParisGrrl said...

I'm all for embracing ourselves as we are, but if something's bothering a woman and she has the desire and means to improve it, I say she should feel free to go for it.

ms. caboo said...

I am thinking that I need to start putting something on my face! I'm 44, and I haven't worn any makeup for about 10 years, just 'cause I got lazy. My boyfriend prefers me without makeup, and since I have dark lashes and eyebrows, I can get away with it, although I do think it's time to start attempting to look better!

Any suggestions as to a minimalist approach to what to wear every day? Any good 'laugh line' cream?

California Girl said...

I like Deja Pseu's and Cathalonia's remarks with respect to a few extra pounds and putting effort into being beautiful. I have a once a month glycolic peel and use Bioclear by Jan Marini. I love eye cream and wouldn't go without it but I do experiment with different brands. My favorite anti aging creme is Estee Lauder Time Zone. It is so rich yet non-oily.

Speaking of oily, I was blessed with oily olive tone skin. Genetics play a huge role. I'm turning 60 this year and I could probably get away with 5-10 yrs younger but I think my wrinkly arms give me away. California Girls didn't know to stay out of the sun when we were young!

sisty said...

Why no eye cream? Because eye cream is no different than moisturizer, essentially. Eye creams are a ripoff -- Paula Begoun says so, too.

I agree that sometimes it comes down to le visage ou le derriere. It's true in my case -- though I much preferred the way clothes fit when I was thinner, it did make my face a little drawn. That said, I think I'd like to be thinner anyway. And I'm only talking 10 pounds.

@cathalonia -- Helena Rubinstein put it another way -- "there are no ugly women, just lazy ones" or something like that. I agree that with a little effort almost everyone looks prettier.

Botox and plastic surgery -- never, for me. Plastic surgery is dangerous and you almost always can tell. But I can never figure out who's had botox and who hasn't. How can you tell?

Spiral Style said...

I am a big fan of Botox or Dysport. I get just enough to be rid of the V (furrowed brow just above my nose) and a touch above my eyebrows. I still have the horizontal lines on the forehead and have full expression. I don't think I could ever be convinced to try fillers.
Here is a tip that I saw on our local TV. They did a trial with several people for 2 weeks using Avon Anew Ultimate Night Gold Emulsion. It dramatically reduced the "look" of small lines, especially around the eyes on most of the "subjects". I'm sure it doesn't take lines away, just moisturizes and your skin appears to look younger. You can Google information regarding the product, but I must say I have noticed a difference and I have gotten comments from friends wondering what I've done. It's cheap too which is not true about most products that make claims to reduce lines.

Belle de Ville said...

I look at injections as I look at getting my teeth cleaned and whitened, it's just another grooming essential. If injections are done correctly, they can greatly enhance one's look and put the need for surgery off by 10 years or so.
A good dermatologist or plastic surgeon knows how to give injections and still have their patients retain their natural looks. There is no excuse for being over botoxed.
I wish that I had started with injections 5 years earlier than I did....of course I wish that I had used sunscreens and stayed out of the sun too...

BigLittleWolf said...


Somehow, I thought this might be less prevalent in France. If your dermatologist's waiting room was primarily filled with those looking for their next Botox (or similar) procedure, than that's sorrowful news - to me.

I look at Nicole Kidman (or Meg Ryan, or Renee Zellweger) these days, and almost have to look away. I find no beauty in these faces any longer.

There are "tweaks" which retain the stories of the woman, and others that would seem to (freakishly) attempt to erase them.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I am on the natural road to aging...no help other than great products and facials...I use sunscreen and hope that I will look as great as my 84 year old mother who is celebrating her birthday today.

I think Meg Ryan has had too much work done...she was so much more natural looking before.

Chicatanyage said...

I have never had botox and hopefully never will. The more i see these women who have had "work done" the more I find them quite freaky. There was an article in the Sunday Times this week-end showing beautiful women like Marie Helvin looking very strange as a result of "fillers". I am not sure these women are good role models. What's wrong with a few laughter and smile lines (it confirms that you have been smiling and laughing)

YONKS said...

How very interesting. You definitely came up with an interesting post. I am all for ageing naturally. To me it seems that having botox and other treatments which are obviously apparent to those looking at you, is like an old man having a comb over. We all know he's bald! Who are you trying to kid. I think in most circumstances, the only person you are kidding is yourself. It's an outward sign of inner dissatisfaction! Money would be better spent on a holiday to get a tan. Brown fat and wrinkles look much better than white fat and wrinkles! Dianne

Duchesse said...

Belle, wondering what you mean by "put off the need for surgery"? Am sure you have your reasons but cannot see why the *average* woman (not one who makes a living from her face being 20x normal size, viewed on a screen) needs it.

I refuse to have my face cut up to please someone or make myself 'feel better'. Age on the face is its own beauty.

I do see a role for surgery, and am grateful we can treat facial cancers, injuries and congenital abnormalities via surgical procedures.

Leslie said...

Aging gracefully requires finding the proper balance between intervention and restraint. I use good skin care, sunscreen, I've had a little Botox, a little bit of laser treatment at the end of summer. Would never say never re surgery. I've kept this quote from a Neiman Marcus exec to help me keep my perspective, "True beauty goes beyond appearance. It's kindness, passion, depth, intelligence, humor, integrity. These characteristics ultimately define what is beautiful - and leave a lasting impression."

Gretchen said...

Astonishing to read the varied comments here. I am anti surgery, but think peels or some kind of lightening agent to rid myself of self-induced brown spots, gained from being in the sun while taking antibiotics, may be okay...but I find other priorities for my monies tend to come first. Astonishing, also, that my high-school daughters and friends piled into the car today, talking about one of the moms of another girl waiting to be picked up. And what were these girls saying? That this poor woman is so we'd to surgery and starving herself that her daughter doesn't want to be seen with her. I was floored.

Patty said...

Love this post. Whenever I think I may want tweak the aging process, I look at the society pages and see what the presumably very expensive procedures end up looking like - some very scary!

We are our own worst critics. A 50 something friend of mine had botox for that "horrid crease" between her brows. I had never noticed the crease and honestly did not see one bit of difference.

One of my favorite things to do at church is to notice how beautiful older women are (I know I should be focused on other things). But, honestly, if we are proud of themselves, dress nicely and wear a little makeup, we are truly beautiful.

cathalonia said...

Apropos of all this, I saw a movie today with Dame May Whitty in it. She was so heartrendingly lovely. Just captivating. Maybe because she embodied everything in Leslie's quote above.

A Farmer's Wife said...

I loved this post and the sentiment behind it. My plan for aging is to aim for happy wrinkles. I am only 36 at the moment though so can't promise it won't change (I'm Australian though so all that sun exposure means I look every bit of 36).

Take care.

PS - Just read your Coco Chanel quote re perfume. Love it - given that I wear perfume every day, even if I am heading to the sheep yards it rings true.

Ferrymansdaughter said...

Okay, a question from the UK - why do you have a dermatologist? Is it an American thing or a French thing? I've noticed a lot of Americans seem to have specialists they see on an annual or six monthly basis. I don't think I've ever even met a dermatologist, much less consulted one, but then I am lucky enough to have inherited my mother's lovely skin and have never sunbathed much.

I don't use eye cream either. I DO buy it, but 90% of the time I just forget to use it. I put moisturiser all over my face in the morning, including around the eyes so hopefully that's enough.

I also found it interesting that the doctor said most women want the Nicole Kidman look. In that photo, she just looks scary - and as for the lips! There's nothing worse than seeing a woman who was beautiful - and still could be in her natural state - look like a waxwork.

As for the "angry" crease between the eyebrows, grow a fringe!

Rubi said...

Having always been on the "ronde" side of the spectrum, my face at 49 is almost un-lined (no, really). That's also because I never smoked, don't drink more than a glass of wine with dinner, use sunscreen everyday, and have the great good fortune to come from a long line of good skin-having women.

That said, when (not if) the family "turkey wattle" turns up, if I have the means, I may have it addressed. I've got a good 15 years before I have to decide.

Cathi said...

I live in LA and have also seen some pretty crazy faces on women and men that want to stay young forever, they look ridiculous! I truly admire people that age naturally and take good care of themselves and I plan to do just that myself!

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