Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Old People's Bus Stop

Carrie Fisher, then and now.

With "Star Wars" about to hit the theaters just in time for the holidays, I can't help but to have noticed a cry that's gone 'round the world. "What in the hell happened to Carrie Fisher?"

Most of these posts and articles feature side-by-side comparisons of Ms. Fisher -- one taken in her 20's, when she was absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful, and the other taken on the current press junket for the new Star Wars movie  (almost 40 years after the first set of pics), where she....doesn't look as good. Big surprise.

There's not a lot of name calling, just a lot of speculation. Was it "life in the fast lane" that faded her beauty so dramatically? Bad plastic surgery? The cocktail of medications she's taken over the years for her mental health difficulties? The speculation goes on and on.

But lest you think this is unique, the same thing has happened to Meg Ryan in recent years. You remember Meg, with her peaches-and-cream complexion and curly blonde locks. At 60, she looks very different now. Meg Ryan is not known quite so much for her hard-living lifestyle, and so bad plastic surgery and too many lip injections are blamed for her rather odd look these days. Ditto for Melanie Griffith and Donna Mills.

In a way, these images of my former girl-crushes are very validating, because these were women I compared myself to and tried to look like throughout most of my teens and 20's. When I found out Carrie Fisher was just an inch shorter than I was but weighed only 103 pounds, I went on a diet. I was 5'4" and weighed 115 at the time. (!) I got down to 109 before my doctor told me to stop -- he said that if I continued, I would be forcing my body to eat its own muscle mass, just to hit a target number on the scale. 

I was a dancer at the time, and was pretty much all muscle, which I see now was a great thing to have going for you. But the doctor's orders did stop my diet, despite the fact that I was dancing on a national television show at the time and thought I looked too fat every single time I saw myself on camera.

Meg Ryan, then and now.

Anyway, here we are at the door of 2016, and we've all seemingly arrived at the same bus-stop now -- Me, Melanie, Carrie and Meg -- the stop where you can no longer go back. The stop where you step off and realize, as the bus pulls away, that you somehow left your good looks on the seat next to you. It's a vulnerable, naked feeling, when you look in the mirror and occasionally see an old lady you don't recognize. Department store mirrors are no longer your friends. Neither is fluorescent lighting.

And so, for some, the search for what you left behind on that bus begins. Carrie, Meg and Melanie all, I believe, have done their share of cosmetic surgeries, yet the final result was ultimately for naught. Full lips on a 50-something face looks ridiculous. So does skin pulled tight and pulled back to someplace behind the ears. (Is it tied into a kind of ponytail somewhere back there, hidden beneath the hair extensions?)

I still threaten sometimes to have a facelift when I'm 60, but the closer I get to it, the less dedicated I am about actually going through with it. I do admit to having some "fat packets" (as my doctor called them) scraped off my lower eyelids about 15 years ago to stop my lower lids from drooping after I started getting chronic dry eyes from the lids not being quite where they should have been to protect my eyes. After speaking to my mom, I discovered several women on her side of the family had ended up doing the same thing, either for cosmetic or medical reasons. So, in a sense, I've already had work and as a result, my eyes do look slightly different than they used to. But a full facelift or lip injections? Probably not for me.

No, the more I think about it, I'm going to sit here at this bus stop and not do anything short of coloring my hair for awhile longer. At least it's somewhat comforting to have so much company at this bus stop, including the "girls" (now women) I once tried to emulate, but no more. Sometimes fighting the aging process with injections, fillers and scalpels ends up making you look stranger than natural old age would. It's not pretty, either. But at least it's real, you'll still somewhat continue looking like yourself, and it's certainly a lot cheaper in the long run. 

There are no hot 80 year-olds out there, after all. We're all going to look like old women sooner or later.

Yours truly, then (1985) and now. Hanging' in there, which just means it's all hangin' a bit lower than it used to.


  1. I have those days, those glances in the mirror, those photos, where I don't recognize myself. Yet I know I look better than actresses with overdone cosmetic surgery. Yes, I'm sitting right next to you at the bus stop.

    1. It's nice to be in good company, seeing faces like yours and mine which haven't been turned into caricatures of themselves from having too much work done. You look great, by the way!

  2. I agree with glancing in a Dept. store mirrow & thinking, who is that woman? There is a popular procedure around here that is a non-surgical face lift & of course all the women in the commercials ook & feel fabulous. Had the procedure done in the morning & went out to dinner that night. Ha! Even if I could afford it, my luck it would come out lopsided. Not worth the risk & they never say how long it will last!

    p.s. I think you look great!

    1. Thank you! I'm with you on the non-surgical long can it last? Many women spend thousands on fillers which are also only temporary. Seems like a LOT of good money thrown away on something that is only temporary. But even surgery's results even don't last forever, right?

  3. Oh people are such asses. first of all, you look great. And I know that that's not the point of your post-but you really do! I think I like your hair color now better than '85. So some things really do get better, like figuring out the tricky terrain of our best tones and colors.
    I agree with you, there's no cheating it--and so often, it just makes things worse. plus I'll bet the conversations at the old lady bus stop are very interesting!

    1. Thank you! I wish I'd started coloring my hair years before I did, it was such an awful drab shade that did nothing for me. You know, occasionally I see a lady whose "work" has really turned out well, but most of the time it's just a train wreck because they didn't know when to stop and leave well enough alone. We all end up at the old lady bus stop no matter what we try and do to look like we aren't there!

  4. Fillers, peels, nip, tuck, etc. The quest to fight off aging, losing one's individuality in the process. I would love to wake up one morning and have a younger neck, but that's not gonna happen. At 56, I don't really look 56 most of the time ... that's a benefit of choosing one's parents wisely ... neither of them quite look their age either.

    The best face-lift I ever saw was on a former neighbor of ours. She worked in the office of a plastic surgery practice. As a retirement present, she got to choose whatever procedure she wanted, free of charge. When she healed, she looked rested and refreshed, not stretched and unnatural.

    1. Yes! Agreed! One of my friends had a facelift and had similar results...none of us could tell if retirement just really agreed with her, or if she'd had work. In the end she told us she'd had a facelift. I'd love to tighten up my neck and jowls, but am a little afraid of the permanence of it if something went wrong and they went too far with the pulling and tightening.