Whatever Happened to Graceful Aging?


If you saw the Swedish film version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, you couldn’t help but notice that the female actors over 50 looked, well, over 50. Their youthful looks had faded, but they were beautiful adult women, with wrinkles, age spots and perhaps not the whitest teeth. They were real. And they represented something seldom seen in American filmmaking: women of a certain age looking like women of a certain age.

Jane Fonda is a beautiful woman and she talks freely about her cosmetic procedures. Earlier this month, Ms. Fonda was in Chicago for The Rosie Show. On her blog, she posted some photos of her and Rosie O’Donnell and I gotta tell you, Ms. Fonda looked more like Melanie Griffith or Kate Gosselin than her old self. Those lips, the blond hair, that wide (or is it wild?) -eyed look.

While it’s understandable that those who earn their livelihood in front of the cameras would want to buy some time to look their best, there’s another consideration in play. The enhancements too often result in a look similar to others who have had major ‘work’ at being nipped, tucked and sucked. After numerous procedures to ward off aging, these starlets begin to look alike, taking on eerily similar plastic faces, gravity defying breasts and topping it off with a golden, warm hair color I like to describe as “menopause orange.”

And now, the latest cosmetic surgery statistics we received at Today’s Chicago Woman indicate that men are going under the knife and are setting all-time records for elective surgery, from facelifts to fat injectables. I thought that there might be a pullback in elective procedures due to the ongoing recession, but clearly that’s not the case. And the study showed that the majority of these procedures are being performed on women and men who aren’t in a financial position to shell out big bucks to knock a decade off their looks.

Several years ago, an acquaintance took cosmetic surgery about as far as it could go, when she opted not just for a more youthful, rested look, but drastically changed her appearance with a much tighter face and neck, and a smaller, narrower nose. She got a full facelift, cheek and chin implants and a brow lift. She looked like an entirely different person. Her transformation had one acquaintance quip, “What’s with Kathy*? Is she in witness protection?”


*Not her real name.


About Sherren Leigh

Sherren Leigh is president and founder of Today's Chicago Woman and Today's Chicago Woman Foundation. She muses about life - the good, the bad, the ugly - and anything else that's on her mind in “Girl Talk.” Sometimes funny, other times serious, she's always thought-provoking and often controversial.