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Perfectly Imperfect

As our world is constantly changing, so are the norms of beauty. Plastic surgery is becoming more accepted and more affordable. Men and women, young and old, affluent or not, are giving in to the pressure of “perfection.”

With high hopes, ordinary people go to a total stranger and leave it up to that expert total stranger/doctor to redesign their features, to alter their appearance, to reinvent their personalities … to make them perfect. The result is almost always indeed a more “perfect” face. A face that does not match the past and the present, a face that gives no guarantees for future happiness.

Most of the people I have seen, who have subjected themselves to the pain and expense of such procedures, are not visibly happier than before. They are not more confident, and not much more attractive, although an improvement is noticeable. Perfection is lifeless and cold, and nothing more than a dead end street.

Beauty, on the other hand is interaction, it is dialogue, it is an open invitation to discover more every time you take another look.

Mona Lisa has fascinated us for centuries, not because she is perfect, but because she is imperfect. Her mysterious smile is visibly crooked and her eyes are slightly strabic. Whatever she lacks in perfection she compensates for in personality and undeniable charm.

True beauty has nothing to do with perfection and everything to do with harmony.

As we may try to fool ourselves, it is hard to fool others. A surgically altered appearance is instantly visible and the loud message is: “I had doubts, I felt inadequate, I did not much appreciate my past, and I am terrified of my future”.

This message is negative. It comes from a tormented soul and a broken spirit.

Getting old is a natural process. Changing with the passing of time is inevitable, but should not be devastating. Self acceptance is the first step in achieving balance and happiness, peace and serenity.

Your face is the roadmap of your life. A few lines will only make you more interesting, will tell a story of trials and errors, success and defeat, fun times and endearing memories. A few wrinkles may bruise your ego much more than your appearance.

Know this: instead of trying to erase your past, learn to celebrate your present.

Spending a fortune on empty promises, (freely and unscrupulously made by the cosmetic industry), is futile and frustrating. No magic creams in magic jars will ever magically erase your wrinkles: if you’ve got them, you’d better enjoy them. If, on the other hand, you still have time to take preventative action, by all means, go ahead.

Only your confidence will disarm critical eyes, including your own. Only your confidence will please the dear ones who love you for being uniquely you––wrinkles and all. By no means am I advocating sloppiness or neglect. Looking your best at all times is a must––it’s a sign of self-respect. Make an effort with genuine concern for the aesthetic sensibilities of others and with love and tolerance for yourself.

A few years ago I saw a television show “The Swan” (or something to that effect, I can’t recall). Young girls, far from “perfect” were given the opportunity to meet with famous plastic surgeons, renowned dentists, acclaimed hair stylists, personal trainers, and expert make-up artists, all of whom pointed out what was wrong, what was imperfect. After a few weeks of extensive “work,” the ugly duckling emerged as a swan.

The swan was a result of much work: liposuction, a face lift, extensive dental work, and a new hair do. She’d gone from glasses to contact lenses, from ordinary clothing to high fashion, from no makeup at all to lots of it. The physical transformation was real, but I could not suppress a sense of pity, reinforced by the attitude of the girls themselves. They looked so out of place, so uncomfortable in their own skin, so vulnerable and so afraid of their new found “beauty”.

Know this: their appearance had changed, but their souls and intimate views of themselves had not.

More or less, they all looked the same: oversized breasts, capped teeth that were bleached beyond white, highlighted hair, and puffy lips. The radical changes meant to give them a new lease in life, had given them a clean slate by suffocating their identities.

Recently I attended an “invitation only” event at the Four Season Hotel in Beverly Hills. Dr. Jean-Paul Martin, a renowned plastic surgeon was offering free consultations and “friendly advice” to privileged woman of all ages, interested in looking younger. I could see their insecurities and I could feel their panic. Impeccably dressed, with well rehearsed manners, Dr. Martin came all the way from France to tell us in a charismatic voice: “You are all beautiful.”

He went on reassuring us with the same professional smile that we can also use some help and he was willing and happy to oblige. Most participants were also willing and happy to pay and do whatever it would take to prolong their beauty, from here to eternity.

I have never been pretty according to classic beauty standards, but I have always liked myself. Out of curiosity I asked the doctor to “evaluate me” and suggest possible changes. With the aid of the computer, he redesigned my face to the point where a complete stranger was staring at me from the cold screen. The image was definitely softer and younger looking, but it had nothing to do with who I am and even less with the way I feel about myself.

Know this: the lifted eyebrows, the fuller mouth, the wide-open empty eyes made that “image of perfection” look silly.

The doctor went on to tell us that all it would take to accomplish the desired look was “a week of your time.” He did not mention the cost or the pain. The interested candidates were to be invited to France for the magic wand. While the idea of a week in France was appealing, spending it in a recovery room was not.

The experience reminded me of a great book I enjoyed many years ago,  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Even if you are not considering plastic surgery it is well worth your time. You may love and accept Dorian Gray when the reading is done. You may even love and accept yourself too.

 

 

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