Should Women Be Transparent About Plastic Surgery?

There’s a great new article in May’s O Magazine called:

How Old Do I Look?

It features 4 women from age 42 to 81 and divulges what kinds of aesthetic work they’ve had done; from Botox to face lifts.


It was so refreshing to look at their faces and know the reason they looked so good for their age was due to work they’d had done, not because they were eating a macrobiotic diet while doing inverted sit-ups, yogic postures and drinking Chinese herbal teas.

Because every message we get from advertising to television shows to red carpet photographs, is that if we are not youthfully beautiful then we are not good; that being beautiful is some sort of reflection of a person’s character, will power, self-control and abstinence.

There may be ageless people out there who have never had a thing done, but I don’t want to know them.

I’m interested in the women who admit their beauty requires certain Herculean tasks or procedures.

Here is my suggestion. Use your beauty for good, not evil. Be transparent with other women about your beauty secrets.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve had botox or a breast lift, let’s be supportive rather than competitive.

My friend – code-name Tango 5/6 – is 47 and has absolutely no body fat and a little six-pack.

I resent her for this, but I know what she does to achieve that kind of fitness.

She drinks green shakes she makes from the broccoli and bean sprouts in her own garden. She does Ab-Ripper X and more push-ups than a Navy Seal during hell week.

I don’t want to do that! I want to drink wine and eat chocolate and accept my body the way it is now.

So I forgive her. And am even proud of her.

My friend – code-name Svetlana – has Barbie proportions and a face at 60 with nary a wrinkle nor a sag. And she doesn’t look “done.”

But she divulged to me that it took several surgeries to achieve that look. Thank God, otherwise I was going to have to take her out!

I’m not suggesting that we wear signs around our necks saying “calf implants,” “5 Fraxel laser treatments,” “microdermabrasion with a side of acid peel.”

But, I also don’t think it’s fair to let our friends think we simply have superior genes and drink a lot of water when our beauty has come at a price.

So, in celebration of BEAUTY TRANSPARENCY WEEK (I just coined that phrase) here’s what I’ve done to look the way I do:

  • At 45, I had a brow lift/blepharectomy . I have my hair highlighted. I wear make-up every day.
  • I’ve had laser hair removal in various southern climes. I’ve had Lasik eye surgery to eschew the need for glasses.
  • I have veneers on my two front teeth because I broke one when I was a kid.
  • I’ve had tooth whitening treatments, mani/pedis, waxing and eye brow shaping. I use anti-oxidant creams, serum lifting creams, eye creams, cream of tartar, creamed spinach, Cream of Wheat.
  • I wash and curl my hair twice a week. I shave daily and I use personal lubricants. Yes. I had to take it just one step too far.
  • I’m a migrant worker to the crop that is my body and I know I’m a spoiled, privileged white-collar woman, but we can tackle that topic another day.

In the near future, I’m considering a skin-tightening laser called Ulthera (is this snake oil? Anyone?) and perhaps some Fraxel to get rid of sun spots.

I’m aging and gravity is winning. But, I’m planning to die very old with a good-looking corpse and to share my road map along the way.

My next post will be about my work in orphanages.

26 thoughts on “Should Women Be Transparent About Plastic Surgery?”

  1. I don’t hate on people who have surgery- just the ones that who won’t admit it. Not that I ask. But the biggest thing I’ve done is dye my hair so what do I know!

  2. I agree that this incessant competition we as woman sometimes have against each other gets out of hand. I truly believe all women are beautiful in their own way, as corny as that sounds 🙂

  3. I love that we can maintain our figures with plastic surgery. Thankfully I haven’t had to use it, but if I have to I will. I love it when it makes a women look naturally beautifully. Hopefully, I’ll be lucky when I need it and shhh I probably won’t tell a soul.

  4. Hello Sharon! Long time reader, first time commenter.
    Don’t you think something as fantastic as BEAUTY TRANSPARENCY WEEK would involve accepting our bodies? Accepting that we age, that we aren’t meant to be youthful for ever, that woman are human beings whose bodies should not require perfection. I think it’s puzzling that you’re more worried that not being honest with other women is creating an unhealthy culture around beauty rather than examining what is driving women to ‘shape’ their bodies so much and why we feel so awful and unattractive in our natural form.

    It really saddens me that women feel under so much pressure as they age to fit into this very slim category of what is deemed ‘beautiful’ in western society. That we feel we need to have surgery- which involves anesthesia, being cut open, altered and a significant amount of pain- to be attractive. I think we’re fooling ourselves to think that happiness comes from being waxed and cut open and having tight skin. Don’t you find it concerning that there is such a HUGE difference in what is involved in being ‘attractive’ between not only men and women, but what the women of 100 years ago were doing to their bodies and what we’re expected to do now? Something really puzzling and significant is happening to women.

    What would you do if your daughters came to you at age 16 or 17 and wanted a brazilian wax and a nose job or breast implants? I think as mothers we would encourage our children to love themselves and not alter their bodies. But it’s not the example that is being set for them. Wouldn’t it be freeing if our daughters didn’t have to rip out all their body hair, spend excessive amounts of money on makeup and the like, and feel unattractive without plastic surgery?

    I’m not saying I don’t participate- I shave my legs, straighten my hair etc. It’s almost impossible not to do so when society has set up a such a strict notion of what is beautiful and people who don’t fit in are ostracized. Imagine what would happen if you left the house wearing a short skirt having not shaved your legs in a few months! Oh, the looks and comments you would get!

    For me Beauty Transparency Week would involve doing some of the things you suggested above- like eating fabulous food and not training like a navy seal and accepting your friends- but most of all it would involve rejecting the idea that we need to surgically alter our bodies as we get older. It would involve changing our understanding of beauty and widening this understanding to resist what we’re being pressured by society to do.

    1. Hi Alana — thanks so much for reading and commenting. I agree with everything you’re saying (by the way, did you read Ashley Judd’s rebuttal to the negative comments about her face on The Beast? I think you would be very encouraged by it). As you’ve probably noticed body image, beauty and aging are frequently topics I write about on this blog. I’m grappling with all of those things. I’m not a role model, but a fellow traveler. I’ve certainly been influenced both consciously and unconsciously by the images and messages our culture sends about the importance of beauty and what it should look like. I feel like I’ve come a long way with regards to my body. The recent series I wrote about the nudes I had taken at 46 was very liberating for me. I’ve never had any plastic surgery done to my body, but daydreamed about it. For today I’m accepting of the changes that have come with age, weight gain and having children. But how I wish I didn’t have a such a critical eye toward myself. How I wish my physical appearance weren’t even on my thought list for the day.

      What I hear in your comment — and I may be wrong — is the righteous anger you feel about the objectification of women. I’m with you. And I respect your opinion.

      Having said that I’m very happy with the work I had done on my face. I WOULD LIKE TO BE THE KIND OF PERSON WHO DOESN’T CARE ABOUT WRINKLES AND SAGGING. I think if I were that person I would be a better person. But I fall short. I’m mired in my earthly vanity – whether it be media induced or not.

      And now to my daughters. I jokingly say that when they’re 45 they can do whatever they like. But of course if they came to me at 16 or 17 and said they wanted work done I would be saddened and feel like I was a bad example (I’d also say no). I want them to love their bodies. I don’t want them to have eating disorders or be so self-conscious about their appearance that they can’t enjoy their lives. And I’m hoping that the positive example I’m setting for them is that vanity doesn’t keep me from doing anything. I jump in the trampoline with them, I ride bikes on the beach and swim in any chlorinated pool they like with them, I body surf with them, I garden with them, I throw a baseball around with them and I even referee their soccer games even though I have to wear those hideous knee socks and that yellow and black striped shirt. And I also am transparent about my struggles with vanity. So we shall see how all of that goes.

      But Alana I feel you. And I thank you for writing to me so respectfully and thoughtfully.

  5. I want the six something’s surgeon’s name and no, stat! I’am very happy that we all have choices in the matter. I never understood keeping that stuff a secret, especially when it may be obvious. I also totally get your attitude about making choices to be less perfect and enjoy life. It helps a lot to marry someone who loves you as is 🙂

  6. I think you made all those procedures up. “Blepharectomy”? “Fraxel”? They sound like characters from a Douglass Adams book.

    If I could get it done for free (or like, under $1000), I would totally get a hair transplant and manboob reduction. I live really close to Tijuana. It might just be possible.

    1. Beta Dad — you’re here!! Actually those procedures all come from Ray Bradbury novels. I’m not actually human. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone. Am I’m sure your moobs are all pec.

  7. OK, I’ll bite. In addition to 20 years of waxing and a truncated course of laser hair removal (interrupted by my emigration), I have had one course of Botox (at age 35–it was for a case I was working on involving a famously gorgeous celebrity and lots of TV cameras) and lipo following back-to-back pregnancies (kids born 10 months apart) at age 36.

    Also, I recently had baby #5, at age 40. So far I have lost more than 30 pounds (most of it from prior pregnancies). When my weight stabilizes I intend to have a tummy tuck and probably a chin lift.

    Oddly, the rest of my face except for the chin situation (which probably is due more to the remaining extra 20 pounds than anything else) looks pretty youthful. People typically guess my age at around 30. I disagree and think I look my real age, which is 41.

    I am not ashamed of any of this and am happy to discuss my experiences with anybody who wants to contact me; my email address is on my blog or I am guessing you can get it from Shannon.

    1. Okay, I am in love with you! Talk about transparency. And five children?? I’m going to your website right now. I want proof you can still function. 2 children 20 months apart put me in Mania Land for at least three years. xo

  8. I had no idea OWN had that article. I would love to see it. You always see women with clear bad work, but the good work is obviously undetectable. It would be nice to hear from the horses mouth what has been done.

    I have had two nose jobs. Granted, they were forced upon me when Anthony Melendez accidentally broke my nose with a Russet Potato, The ER failed the recognize it was broken, and it gave me a wonderful exuse to have it done…of course it came out worse then my original nose and I needed to go back in to fix it- all with the desire to get back to my original nose status at that point. It’s okay…not quite as good as the original. And with a honker like Brian’s I’m just glad I don’t have girls. If I did I would use Ashley Simpson’s plastic surgeon. Best nose job ever.

    1. First of all I am very familiar with your nose and it is perky and friendly and suits your face just perfectly. But I will not stand in the way of anyone’s wishes. You realize now that the next time I see Brian I will be scrutinizing his nose. xo

  9. Hell, I’m totally getting work done. Why not? And why not tell people? But for now, here’s my confessions: I color and highlight my hair, I was brows and upper lip (though the two lower ones probably need down too, if you know what I’m talking about), and mani/pedi. And teeth-whitening (holy hell, that hurts). In the near future, I will get a Fraxel, definitely some fillers in my face, and a breast lift. If I could I’d suck all the fat out of my ass and a tummy tuck but that’s enough for now.

    1. Wendy I love you! What this is making me realize is that wanting to wrangle imperfections (for lack of a better word) is a common denominator. There must be some kind of inherent biological imperative there, otherwise we as a species might have transcended it.

  10. I color and highlight my hair, I was brows and upper lip (though the two lower ones probably need down too, if you know what I’m talking about), and mani/pedi. And teeth-whitening (holy hell, that hurts). In the near future, I will get a Fraxel, definitely some fillers in my face, and a breast lift. If I could I’d suck all the fat out of my ass and a tummy tuck but that’s enough for now.

  11. I tell every woman who comments on my figure I’ve had a tummy tuck, some lipo and breast augmentation. I think it’s just downright misleading not to. I’ve had four children, and at 41, would NEVER look the way I do from exercise and dieting. The babies wrecked my body (4 c-sections), and while I’ll never regret them (well, almost never), I definitely regretted being left with the mess they made of me at only 37, when the fourth one was just a year old. I did the hard work, the ab stuff, the dieting, the running, hiking and walking. But nothing but surgery would repair the scar tissue, and saggy empty sacks of nasty that used to be my breasts. Yoga instructor asked me, after her third baby, how are my abs so flat? I got the flab cut out and sewn up, I told her. Right off. Otherwise, she’s going to be wondering what else can she possibly do to get back to where she was. I figured it out, if she doesn’t, she’s FAILING. That’s bull. When I finally put some poison in my WTF lines on my forehead, I’ll tell whoever asks why my skin is so smooth there. Be honest. It helps the world go round more kindly. Especially for women, who are so damn competitive any way. We NEED each other to be honest. It ain’t just lots of water and flax seeds! And that Ulthera stuff (sp?), let us know if you get it. I’ve seen info in my daughter’s dermatologist’s office. Tempting…

  12. Hi Allison — I love your transparency. I think it’s kind and kick ass. I did have the Ulthera treatment and am going in next week to have my After photos taken which I will post toot sweet.

  13. You crack me up. I love all the the “creams” you use.

    Yes, let us share openly, learn from and support each other, and stop pretending no one can tell when you’ve had some work done…cause we generally can. And we appreciate any pointers along the way.

    I used to work in a spa where it was easy to ask clients where or who did what in their latest upkeep treatment, but I got a job selling gourmet cheese, and it’s not quite appropriate to ask…”speaking of curd, did you get Lipo?”

    1. Traci you are cracking me up. Yes, we need to be on each others’ team and quit pretending our lasting looks are due to drinking lots of water. Thanks a lot Cheryl Tiegs!

Comments are closed.

Self-Help Book About Healing Love Addiction

Don't Miss Shannon's Tastefully Infrequent Newsletter


* indicates required