I was charmed recently while listening to Terry Gross conduct an interview on Fresh Air with Anna Quindlen. Quindlen has long been one of my favorite writers. She knows how to turn a sentence as one would turn a prism--slowly, holding it up to the light, giving time for all the colors to sparkle.
I was a huge fan of her writing when she wrote opinion pieces for the New York Times. To my great dismay, she announced in 1995 that she was giving up writing a regular column. It turns out she was devoting her writing energies into writing novels (she has written 5 thus far) and non-fiction. And then in 1999 Newsweek recruited her to write the last page column which she did for 10 years.
When I was teaching, I used one of those articles Quindlen had written about plagiarism. An article she wrote had been lifted, almost wholesale, by Wayne Newton when he was asked to write a guest column. She called him on the appropriation of someone else's work (which is what plagiarism is) and his defense was--my, isn't it interesting how our minds were so in tune that our words matched. Um....no. I had to stop using it, however, when students asked me--who is Wayne Newton? Oh my.
Well, I had best get to the reason for my rumination. Her most recent work is a book, a sort of personal memoir, titled Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. It was the publication of this book on which Terry focused her interview. Among many topics covered, Terry queried Anna Quindlen on one admission in her book--she has had Botox injections, and some facial fillers. Why? Terry wondered.
And I wonder too. Quindlen's reasons are her own, and they are perfectly good reasons. After all, any decision to alter one's appearance is personal. Quindlen compared her periodic Botox injections, to relax muscles on her forehead that tighten and give her an unintended scowl, to periodic eyebrow waxing. Small tweaks to improve an overall appearance.
Let's face it. Our society puts a great deal of emphasis on how we look--but the pressure is greater on women than men. Sometimes, when I watch a news show and see a male reporter with a face that shows every wrinkle acquired over decades of living, I can't help but muse that a female reporter with a similar road map of life on her face would not be on television. Think Morley Safer--is there a woman reporter whose faces shows as many decades as his does?
It is a rare woman in public life who has not felt the pressure to have "some work" done. Some women trumpet it, making sure that every tweak is noted, while others deny, deny, deny all the while their looks belie. Sometimes the results are gentle and hardly noticeable, sometimes the results are disastrous. And sometimes, she no longer looks familiar.
I know I am not in the public eye, but a long time ago, I vowed--my face gets to age as it will. No nips, no tucks, no tighenings. That way, perhaps the face will stay familiar.