|Anne Robinson: “Anything that allows women to feel better about themselves is worth the money” Photo: BBC|
What has she done to herself? The trend for cosmetic surgery
As the breast implant controversy reveals the sheer number of British women undergoing
cosmetic surgery, it's us all who should all take a harder look in the mirror
By Judith Woods
7:30AM GMT 04 Jan 2012
Is there a woman alive over 40 who hasn’t stood in front of the mirror and pulled her brow upwards, her cheeks sideways or her décolletage inwards and wistfully admired the fleeting transformation, before gravity takes hold again?
It used to be a potent combination of common sense, cost and social stigma that stopped femmes d’un certain âge turning cosmetic surgery fantasies into reality. But no more.
An estimated million-plus women are resorting to medical procedures in a bid to, if not turn back time per se, then at the very least suspend it, one unnervingly immobilised wrinkle at a time.
The controversy over the removal and replacement of sub-standard breast implants has thrown a spotlight on to the extent to which women in Britain have come to rely on the surgeon’s knife for their sense of personal worth or professional marketability.
It wasn’t always so; I vividly remember the first time I broached the subject of cosmetic surgery in an interview. I was sitting in a hotel garden with Helen, now Dame, Mirren, in the mid-1990s and, as a star-struck twentysomething, felt so mortified to be raising the subject with her that I blushed to my roots.
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She laughed throatily, drily pointed out several unenhanced physical attributes and sensously took another mouthful of single malt. These days, such enquiries – and surgical interventions – are so commonplace, that actresses half her age don’t bat an eyelid at Have you? Could you? Would you? Instead, the pat response from these fresh-faced ingenues, with their milkmaid cheeks and unfurrowed brows, tends, alarmingly, to be “never say never”.
When music svengali Simon Cowell, he of the megawatt smile and that notorious drooping eyelid, observed that Botox was “no more unusual than toothpaste”, he was summing up a modern mindset where health and beauty have, appallingly, cataclysmically, parted ways. Add incredibly: the hyper-inflated collagen lip implants of Leslie Ash back in 2003 failed to become a cautionary tale.
Along this road to perdition masquerading as a quest for physical perfection, we have forgotten – weirdly, given the terrifying name – that Botox derives from a toxin in the bacterium responsible for botulism, that lumps of cheap silicone do not belong in the human body and that breasts aren’t supposed to protrude pneumatically from the recumbent female form.
Recent years have seen a dismally retrograde return to a preoccupation with taut, tanned, cartoonesque cleavages, aided and abetted by the plunging pornification of fashion; hooker heels and porn boots, curve-accentuating bodycon dresses, skirt lengths leaving little to the imagination and even less to modesty.
It is a phenomenon that has crept up on us, as documented by Natasha Walter in her scathing analysis Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism. Modern feminism is in a crisis as female empowerment has come to mean the right – in some quarters, the obligation – to dress tartily, moonlight in lapdancing clubs to pay Oxbridge fees and conform to an unrealistic ideal of plasticised pulchritude.
“Barbie isn’t just back – she has taken over the world,” is the crisp analysis from Dr Alessia Ciani, consultant psychiatrist at the independent Capio Nightingale hospital in London. “Women are predisposed to feeling conscious about their appearance; since earliest times, men’s power has resided in money, women’s in their appearance, and as we all live longer, there’s a great pressure on women to maintain a stereotypical image of youthfulness.”
This perceived need to annihilate crow’s feet and maintain a perky embonpoint at all times, has created a booming plastic surgery industry. Some, like Weakest Link host Anne Robinson and Sky presenter Kay Burley, are upfront. Last year, at the age of 50, Burley treated herself to a facelift, while Robinson has said: “Anything that allows women to feel better about themselves is worth the money.” Nor are such insecurities confined to women of a certain age: 23-year-old Strictly Come Dancing contestant Chelsee Healey recently admitted to regretting having breast implants at the age of 18. Amanda Holden admits she quit her Botox habit after seeing the effects it had on the rich and famous in Los Angeles.
Others, such as Kylie, attract whispers for their preternaturally youthful appearance. Tory MP Louise Mensch, not usually backward at coming forward, is more reticent about this subject. When asked by an interviewer whether she had had a facelift, Mensch replied: “Without denying it, I’m going to refuse to answer your question because, as soon as I do that, you will end up becoming the minister for mascara.”
According to the most recent figures from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (felicitously known by the acronym BAAPS), women underwent 34,400 procedures in 2010, the most popular of which was breast augmentation (9,400), up 10 per cent from the previous year, followed by blepharoplasty (eyelid lifts: 5,127) and face and neck lifts (4,493).
Men accounted for 3,860 procedures, the most popular of which were rhinoplasty (3,860) and breast reduction (741), an increase of 27 per cent. While diet and exercise can go a long way towards banishing moobs, the quick fix – however invasive – remains more attractive than expending effort and energy.
Add non-surgical procedures, such as laser treatments for skin and eyes, and the overall figure soars to around 1.3 million procedures, figures from market researchers Mintel show. It’s so widespread that it’s rare for the topic of cosmetic surgery to rise an eyebrow (and not just because it’s been paralysed by Botox). But there are dishonourable exceptions.
Last June, Sarah Burge, 50, a mother from Cambridgeshire, gave her daughter, Poppy, a £6,000 breast-enhancement voucher for her birthday. Her seventh birthday. Yet, instead of being placed in care, the beaming child was photographed in the national press, along with her mother, who has spent £500,000 on plastic surgery for herself. While we can only hope that social services read Closer magazine, elsewhere a stand is being made.
In August 2011, Kate Winslet announced in these pages that she refused to be bullied into surgery, however career-enhancing studio bases might consider it. Her sentiments were echoed by fellow British actresses Rachel Weisz and Emma Thompson, and they declared it time to establish the British Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League.
It was an admirable stand, particularly for an A-list Oscar-winner who is no stranger to airbrush controversy, but begs the question of what, exactly, constitutes surgery.
I know of at least one female broadcaster, whose features are known to resemble melted cheese, who dismisses the suggestion she’s had work done. She’s not dissembling, it’s just that she – and a generation of starlets and presenters – don’t consider lunchtime procedures such as Botox, dermal fillers and chemical peels, to be “work”.
We are losing any connection with our bodies; by gorging ourselves on food, we have achieved the unenviable distinction of being crowned Europe’s fatties. Self-pity and self-indulgence have been rebranded as self-determination and self-fulfilment, and a well-trodden route to happiness that leads straight to the surgeon’s door.
“Human beings strive to fit in, and cosmetic procedures are now so widespread they are accepted as the norm,” says health psychologist Kerri McPherson, based at Glasgow Caledonian University. “Because we live in an image-conscious age, we are expected to look after our appearance and failing to doing so would raise many more questions than going to extreme lengths.”
Another factor is the rise of Facebook and other sites where our photos are on display, and the rise of anyone-can-be-a-celebrity culture.
“We used to admire celebrities from afar, now we compare ourselves to them. We see the girl next door becoming a star and having a makeover, and that glamour and success and perfection seems much more attainable to us.”
Blame Barbie, blame the tacky profusion of tabloid magazines, the lowest-common-denominator television encapsulated by The Only Way is Essex and the overtly sexualised gyrating on Strictly and The X Factor, where contestants must undergo obligatory teeth whitening before their talent can be exposed.
At some point the buck stops with us. We must ask ourselves what has made us so uncomfortable in our skins that we crave – and, crucially – have normalised, dermabrasion and liposuction, scalpels and trout pouts. And where seven-year-old girls from Cambridgeshire dream of the day they can cash in their boob job vouchers.
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Four4Four: Renee Zellweger’s face-change shocker
Renee Zellweger: what has happened to her face?
Renee Zellweger attended a Hollywood ceremony looking unrecognisable,
prompting fans to ask what she has done to her face
By Anita Singh, Arts and Entertainment Editor
1:48PM BST 21 Oct 2014
Renee Zellweger was once one of the most recognisable actresses in the world.
Ten years on from her last outing as Bridget Jones, Zellweger, 45, appears to have an entirely new face.
Fans expressed bafflement at the actress’s appearance when she was pictured at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards.
While many Hollywood stars show the tell-tale signs of facelifts, Botox and fillers – wrinkle-free, hamster-cheeked and looking a couple of decades younger than their actual age – Zellweger simply looks like a different person.The Oscar-winning star now bears a passing resemblance to fellow actress Robin Wright Penn, with a hint of Daryl Hannah and Cameron Diaz.
Zellweger attended the event with her boyfriend, Doyle Bramhall II.
On Twitter, the writer Viv Groskop said: "Renee Zellwegger: this is not Botox or even surgery it's a MISSING PERSON ENQUIRY"
The actress recently raised the prospect of returning for a third Bridget Jones film, saying the idea "would be fun".
After several hours of speculation, Zellweger responded by issuing a statement to People magazine, saying her new look was the result of leading a more "peaceful" and "creative" life.