The first (and only) time I witnessed the immediate aftermath of a facelift was several years ago, when my mother was having some tests performed at the old Gaston Hospital. She had just been diagnosed with a malignant lung tumor, and things were tense, to say the least. By pure coincidence, it turned out that one of her best friends was checked into a room down the hall, scheduled for cosmetic surgery.

Soon after the surgery, a sheepish-looking hospital chaplain entered Mother’s room carrying a message from her friend: “Mrs. So-and-So in Room 612,” he said, red-faced, “says to tell you she feels like, uh.. .” (and his voice dropped).. .”holy shit.”

The candor of that comment (and its unlikely carrier) did wonders for my mother’s disposition. For my part, I ventured down the hall to have a first-hand look. It was horrifying.

Right then, I vowed never to even consider plastic surgery.

That is not to say, of course, that I wouldn’t give my left thigh for tighter contours and higher cheekbones. But volunteer for the scalpel and its afterglow of pain? No thanks.

But clearly I am at the lag end of another Baby Boom Express. By the sheer momentum of its affluence and size, our generation, once again, has made the esoteric commonplace.

It hit us one day while we were conducting a working lunch at Cafe Margaux. Somehow the fact that co-proprietor Tom Agnew had undergone liposuction came up. (Don’t ask.) When we thought about it, stories documenting the vanity trends-old and new- came to mind by the bagful. One editor remembered sitting in a restaurant while a friend dropped his teeth-bleaching molds into a glass of water for the dura-tion of the meal. Another recalled a woman at a party who claimed she could shine a flashlight through her new artificial breasts. Still another woman had confided that her new breasts were filled with sea water, and that they rose and fell with the phases of the moon.

Luckily for its host of new customers (many of whom are men), cosmetic surgery has made enormous technical strides over the past few years. While few things in life are risk-free, surgeons say that most procedures today are fairly safe.

Still, the heightened interest in vanity fare begs the question: what are we doing all this for? Hasn’t the past decade-worth of self-awareness movements produced a populace content with the looks that are their genetic or divine gifts? In my mind, the answer is no. Despite Lear’s, the male sensitivity movement, I’m O.K., You’re O.K., and the like, society offers precious few models of graceful aging. Personally, I was devastated when it was revealed during last year’s Academy Awards presentation that Jane Fonda-with whom I have performed muscle contortions many times in pursuit of naturalbody improvement-had succumbed to a boob job.

It’s tempting to be cynical, if not about the motivation then about the millions of dollars being spent in the pursuit of physical perfection, But as writer Mary Brown Malouf, whose survey of some of the best surgeons and most popular procedures available in Dallas (“We’re So Vain”) begins on page 54, discovered, unhappy customers are few and far between. Most say that their nose (eyelids, derriere, bust line) had been the bane of their existence for all of their lives. They claim to have gained in self-esteem far more than they lost in temporary suffering. When you think about it, that’s not such a bad gift to give yourself or someone close to you.

Watch this page.

AND WATCH FOR A NEW BYLINE, BEGIN-ning this month. I am pleased to announcethat Rod Davis has joined D’s staff as asenior writer. Rod has been on both sides ofthe editor’s desk, as a former editor ofAmerican Way magazine, and as a superbfeature writer for such publications asPlayboy, Texas Monthly, Southpoint, andothers.

Related Content


Keep me up to date on the latest happenings and all that D Magazine has to offer.