In a piece for Sunday's L.A. Times, Mary McNamara wrote about all the Botox, face-lifts and cosmetic surgery on TV right now. For instance: Priscilla Presley. "At once puffy and yanked, her face, and its odd relationship to her neck, often takes on the dimensions of a Picasso painting." Or Barbara Walters, whose face is "painfully taut and shiny." Or Carrie Fisher, who made guest appearances on Weeds and 30 Rock: "Her face was so changed you had to hit the rewind button a few times to make sure it was her." McNamara also calls out all of the Desperate Housewives. She admits that criticizing an actress's looks can often seem sexist: "If women look old, we criticize, and if they try to fix it, we criticize more snidely." But the problem, McNamara says, its not that these women have cosmetic procedures — it's that TV critics don't say anything when their ability to act is inhibited.
Well, other people are saying something. Yesterday, McNamara wrote a follow-up to her article, claiming that "E-mails have been pouring in from frustrated television viewers grateful for the chance to talk about this 'elephant in the living room.'"
When we see bad things happen to good faces, when cosmetic decisions interfere with performances, I think we need to speak out. Otherwise the younger generation will think that a fish-mouth smile and those shiny cheeks are normal and that the Posh Beckham look is something to aspire to ... I wish everyone would stop not only because the sight of some ill-advised surgery or injection can wreck a perfectly OK television show, but also because I am afraid we will forget what normal looks like.
And this conversation has excellent timing: Botox (as an anti-wrinkle treatment) turns 20 years old this year. The drug has been approved in more than 75 countries for 20 different neurological indications and approved for cosmetic use in more than 40 countries. Which is why it's kind of scary that new research shows that the botulinum toxin can get into the brain — at least in lab animals. Earlier studies suggested that the toxin gets broken down at the injection site and doesn't travel; these new findings are "surprising," says the lead doctor on the study. Of course, a Botox spokesperson says"This study is not conclusive." But what would happen to Hollywood faces if the product got taken off of the market? Would viewers have to watch — gasp! — women with realistic faces?
On TV: Botox. Face-Lifts. Reconstructive Surgery., Cosmetic Surgery Freaks Out L.A. Times Readers Too, Critic Finds [LA Times]
Happy Birthday Botox [Daily Mail]
A New Reason to Frown [Newsweek]