The Price of Beauty

My wife got wind of a book that is working its way to the top of the US bestseller lists: titled, “I Feel Bad About my Neck” and written by Nora Ephron, the book is garnering great reviews but also generating a fair share of controversy. Namely, at what point does a woman have to stop worrying about her age? Or better yet, stop worrying about NOT being young?

I don’t know the answer to that one, but I can tell you I sure opened a can of worms with this one.

My response of, “Honey you always look great to me!” (despite the sincerity of the words), apparently isn’t as significant as it used to be. “Men,” replied my wife, “Don’t suffer the same trauma that women do as they get olderâÂ?¦”

Well this is hardly a new argument. I’ve heard it dozens of times before: as men get older they look more ‘distinct”âÂ?¦.while women just tend to look more “wrinkled”. I don’t really buy into that argument. Didn’t “then”, and don’t “now”. But you know, I’m not a woman so I can only carry the analogy so far.

What I DO know is that in Europe and specifically Italy, the subject of looking younger has become BIG business. And it’s a business that attracts a lot of women younger than their mid-to-late 40’s. Now I’m not sure at what point the “age-factor” has become a crisis for the 40-and-over set in the United States, but over on this side of the Atlantic, women – on an average – spend nearly 200.00 euro a month (about $280.00) on everything from creams to massages. Cosmetics and perfumes cost extra. Two-Hundred Euro! Heck, I can lease a Mercedes for that kind of money, and I certainly won’t stress about whether it’s rear-end is sagging.

A recent shopping trip with my wife turned out to be quite an eye-opener and confirmed that the fight against aging is for real: row after row of creams that re-hydrate, create “botox-like enhancement” without needles, fill in wrinkles, and smooth out dark spots. And these products weren’t cheap. Brand name items like Estee’ Lauder and L’Oreal were going for about 30.00 euro for a small jar.

“Well, at least you don’t have to worry about injecting Botox in your hands like MadonnaâÂ?¦” I casually replied to my spouse of nearly 21 years. “You wouldn’t be saying that if you were Madonna!” was my wife’s curt reply.

Sometimes you just can’t win.

According to Dr. Marco Gasparotti – one of Italy’s (and Europe’s) leading plastic surgeons, women over 50 and women under 30 have a lot more in common than one might think. Remarks Gasparotti, “âÂ?¦Both age-groups are focused on the “big-ticket items” like fuller lips, more robust breasts, less wrinkles around the eyes and augmented posteriorsâÂ?¦”

Oddly enough, Gasparotti feels that both age groups want to look younger, but for entirely different reasons: For the “under-30” set, it’s a matter of “competition.” Looking better than their female peers for strictly professional reasons. Well “Duh” this is a society based on youth. When did that become news?

Allow me to interject when I say that men fight the same injustice when it comes to getting older. But I never noticed it until I retired. I retired a lot younger than most, which I bring up only to underscore the fact that practically from one day to the next I had to begin hiding the fact that I retired. I attended a seminar at a job fair once and when it came to resumes, the train-of-thought was to never come right out and say how long you have worked. When you work at a job for 20 years or more it makes you look old! Better to say you have “several years of experience.” Go figure. One day I’m referred to as being “an expert in my field” and the next I’m penalized for the same experience. And people wonder why I’m self-employed.

But I digress.

This “age” thing has no sure-cure remedy. Creams and massages are fine, but at the end of the dale – male or female – we’re ALL going to get old. The trick is; I guess; to grow old with a sense of dignity, which I know is easier said than done.

Cary GrantâÂ?¦.Audrey HepurnâÂ?¦Sean Connery… Meryl Streep. They all tapped into the secret of growing older but doing so with a touch of class.

Hey, maybe there’s hope for the rest of us after all!

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