May 30 2011

More praise for laugh lines

Given the prevalence of angry and ignorant “haters” who appear to have little else to do than slag others in online feedback loops – especially when the inspiring article offered up something remotely female- positive, let alone overtly feminist — it’s always a treat to read comments from thoughtful women weighing in on news sites.

Responses to the Dominique Browning piece I discussed here the other day included a woman in Portland weighing in on the downside of injectibles…

What bothers me is the early use of botox, by women just over 30 who are already fussing about aging. Really? My hair stylist can’t f**ing smile! And she has a young child! What must that be like?

and a woman in Chicago suggesting that such interventions are a waste of time, if it’s male approval you’re after…

I have noticed over the years that men don’t have very good eyesight and the main things they see are a big smile (open to approach), eye contact, and various other obvious attributes according to their tastes. Nothing in the way of wrinkles….nothing. They can’t see them with their male vision, which is the same vision that can’t see dirt, crumbs or grease on a countertop.

May 29 2011

Making a case for laugh lines

Thank god I don’t travel in the same circles as Dominique Browning…

That was just one of the thoughts that occurred to me when reading her provocative and insightful piece, “The Case for Laugh Lines”, in today’s New York Times. Browning confessed that she’s often inclined to greet people she knows but barely recognizes by asking them who they are, as opposed to how they are. She claims that many of her acquaintances have erased the traces of identity, if not life, from their faces.

None of the people I see day-to-day appear to have engaged in serious Botox injections or collagen enhancements, let alone the more invasive skin tightening procedures apparently so prevalent in Hollywood, New York or Texas.

This is not to say that I can’t relate to the phenomenon Browning describes. I do know a couple of women whose faces have been so distorted by surgical interventions that I can no longer hear the words that come out of their mouths, so distracted am I by the damage to their ability to present authentically.

Browning cites an experience of watching a smart and passionate celebrity make the case for disarmament on TV, observing that the woman’s frozen-in-place face

…is grotesquely fascinating — and undermining. Before I know it, the interview is over. The medium overtook the message.

Diana Majury’s essay in I Feel Great About My Hands contains many insights, but one of these is especially relevant. Confessing her unhappiness with her own lines, she recounts how her boredom at a meeting one day led to a “wrinkle revelation” as she watched a similarly aged friend speak.

I looked at her lines and I loved them – they were signs of wisdom, life and learning; they were guides to her responses and emotions. They were entrancing. I stared at her for the rest of the meeting, interpreting its tone and outcome through the lines on my dear friend’s face. I enjoyed myself immensely and saw her, as I always have, as extremely beautiful.


Apr 26 2011

Somewhere Towards The End

by Diana Athill – A delightfully frank and wide-ranging end of life memoir by the British editor (of Margaret Atwood, Norman Mailer and Philip Roth, among others) who penned this most recent of her own books at the age of 90. Delightful company and wonderful writer, she covers sex, marriage, children, illness, religion, death, fiction with equal candour and insight.

Apr 26 2011

I Feel Bad About My Neck

…by Nora Ephron – Of course! I loved this book; it made me – and countless others – laugh out loud. And even though the irrepressible screenwriter and essayist finds little to celebrate about aging (hence the necessity for I Feel Great About My Hands), she’s very good company.