The Sweet Smell of Success, The Bitter Taste of Botox

Competition at the Oscars this year went beyond the awards for Best [insert category here]. While we praised and debated 2012's buzz-worthy performances long before the ceremony, it was facial expression, not artistic expression, that captivated me Sunday night.

Sure, the emcees have been mocking Tinseltown for years about keeping cosmetic surgeons in the black, right? But as I continue to mature into the grown-up my birth certificate says I am (it still looks like a typo to me, though it’s not possible I’ve been 21 for 30 years, is it?), I become increasingly more aware of the ‘improvement’ celebs my age and younger have over me.

Take Rene Zellweger, for one. Fabulous, as far as the eyes can see. Well, not her eyes, because whatever she’s had injected into her face seems to have ‘cushioned’ her vision. Either that, or she just lost her contacts before hitting the red carpet. She now can squint as never before. And Nicole Kidman, an understated beauty and naturally thin-lipped in her early days, has plumped up the volume over the years, almost to the point that her lips have become appendages. But to give credit where credit is due -- both Rene and Nicole have faces that are flawless, their skin smooth, tight and glowing -- how do they do that?

Which activated my curiosity into an IMDB search. Meg Ryan? Melanie Griffith? Jessica Lange? And plenty more. All of them, originally beautiful women who’ve chosen to replace nature with needle. What I find curious is, why would one go to such lengths to yield such painfully obvious results? Shouldn’t the point of cosmetic ‘enhancement’ be to elicit a “hey, she looks great, what has she done?” response, rather than announcing to the whole world, “I was looking kind of shabby and now I’m barely recognizable?” Shouldn’t the point be for us not to know? And along those lines, what I find troubling is, what do these gorgeous, talented, successful women apparently see in themselves (or no longer see), through Hollywood’s eyes? To buy into the perceived shortcomings and unrealistic expectations suggested by an unnatural, contrived culture (Hollywood, remember?) is to inject oneself with more than Botox, Restylane, and Collagen. It’s to inject oneself also with a sense that one’s own beauty is not, in fact, skin deep, but is driven in to the very core of one’s being. It’s to tell oneself that when it comes to the natural aging process, all bets regarding beauty are off.

Now wait: Take Streep, take Keaton. Both in their 60s, right? We know they are, they’ve been around for decades, and they’re not fooling us. They both look amazing -- and amazingly like themselves. Have they had a shot here and there? Maybe so, maybe not, who knows. And that’s exactly my point.

But I digress, where was I? Collagen, Restylane, Botox, oh my. Rene, Nicole. Yes, that’s right, Hollywood. The Oscars. Seems Hollywood has given Madame Tussaud a run for her money, these days. I wonder, who resembles these celebrities more, Tussaud's wax replicas, or the celebs, themselves?

And I wonder, what ever happened to character lines? Seems they’re the only lines Best Actors these days have forgotten. - Diana Geffner-Ventura

Ms. Geffner-Ventura, a Manhattan real estate broker and a writer since she held her first #2 pencil, has been published on her kitchen dry-erase board, and most recently, in Prime Number Magazine.

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