I often think of that mental image of Grandmother. I and my cousins just giggled at her, ignored her and flounced off to do whatever teenage girls did. At that time, I could have cared less about vanity.
Some of the cousins, all grandchildren of my maternal grandmother
saw an oculo-plastic surgeon about it. When he was finishing up his appointment with me, he said—well, now I am off to give a patient Botox. With a smart mouth (and not being too thoughtful) I said—well, at least seeing me you were dealing with someone who had a medical problem, not someone who is vain. Well, the doctor, who is most kindly, said—oh no, this isn’t Botox for cosmetic reasons, this is someone has a tic (the eye would go into spasms). I felt most contrite, and shut up.
Now, I think about vanity. Recently, I had an eye appointment with a specialist. I had a small red spot on an eyelid, and
Then I began to think—despite my protestations to the contrary that I am not vain, of course I am. I think most humans are. It is the degree of vanity that matters. I have thought this through and decided that under no circumstance would I ever seek plastic surgery for the sole sake of vanity. I know there are times and reasons to have plastic surgery done: to remedy horrific birth defects, or to treat someone who has suffered a tragic injury, such as burns. But, too much of plastic surgery is geared towards tightening the faces of movie stars until their faces barely move. Some, in their quest for eternal youth, end up looking quite bizarre. Carly Simon, in her hit song You’re So Vain, enshrines this type of extreme vanity. While she has not revealed who the subject of her song was, people still speculate.
Back to my grandmother. Perhaps part of her concern that her granddaughters not be vain stemmed from her own austerity. Of all my grandparents, she was the most severe. She was a woman who took her religion most seriously. As a convert to a small Protestant denomination, she adopted the plain dress that was typical of her church in the early 1900s. All her life, she eschewed any personal adornment, never wearing makeup or jewelry other than a wrist watch.
Hers was not necessarily the family example that I and my cousins knew about and perhaps even secretly thought about emulating. There was another example that we had heard about. My maternal grandfather had a sister who was “famous” within family circles for her unlined face. The family rumor was that every night she spent time smoothing beauty cream on her face, and massaging her neck so she would not get any wrinkles.
So, no Botox treatments for me. I will do the sensible things that I can—such as staying out of harsh sun, or using sunscreen faithfully, and not smoking. And, if I inherit the good genes of the “famous” great aunt, I will age gracefully without too many lines. Vanity? No, just common sense.