What is the ‘face of celebrity’? Much attention is given to ‘celebrities’: entertainers, Hollywood types, famous athletes, and others whose faces are recognizable to many. When they are deemed beautiful, handsome, and attractive, we notice when they become somewhat less attractive.
They bear tremendous pressure to maintain their beauty, especially it seems if they are female. So when they undergo some sort of cosmetic surgery procedure or surgery, and then look different, it is hard not to notice.
Over the years, we know of situations such as Michael Jackson’s nose woes and Kenny Rogers’ eye surgery and Mickey Rourke’s face surgery. Patients sometimes reference these people by saying ‘Now, doctor, I don’t want to end up looking like ______!”
More recently the media and public has noticed several well known actresses whose faces seem to have undergone more than just a little tweaking.
During the Oscar ceremonies in early 2014, an older screen icon, Kim Novak, was in the public eye. Many remembered Ms. Novak as a sultry & talented actress from the ‘50s and ‘60s (Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”) but she had remained a low profile for several years. But back in the public eye her appearance was scrutinized harshly following plastic surgery. She responded by saying this was an example of “Oscar bullying” and that media bullying was one reason she left Hollywood in the first place.
Late in the fall of 2014, Rene Zellweger made a public appearance looking very different from the young Rene many of us had remembered from movies a few years ago. Speculation was rampant as to exactly what she might have had done to her eyes, brows, cheeks, chin, and so forth. Ms. Zellweger replied “I am just very happy now with my life”.
More recently, another talented actress, Uma Thurmon appeared on the red carpet and drew much speculation as to what she had changed surgically. She later was quoted as saying she herself thought she looked a bit ‘weird’ and her publicist said she was trying a new makeup.
Now all of these women are known for their beauty and acting talents, and remain among the most attractive. But they have also endured comments on their appearance and some of the adjectives have been critical, even unkind.
So how should we, the public, respond when we see a noticeable change in appearance in those whose faces we know so well? After all, it is their faces and if they like the dramatic changes, who are ‘we’ to even critique? Is this unfair, even tantamount to ‘bullying’? Even more personally, most people I know who are contemplating or undergoing a facial cosmetic procedure want a subtle improvement. Not a dramatic change.
It is not unusual for one of my patients to tell me that they recently saw one of their friends who had a ‘little work done’ but now appear overdone: pulled too tight, lips too big, brows looking surprised.
Is there an inborn or innate tendency for most of us to be more comfortable with small incremental changes and not as accepting of big changes, especially when it comes to how we visually relate to the rest of the world? Are these things learned? Or does it vary with where one lives? Does our upbringing shape this, or perhaps our friends? Or maybe it is our career. After all, most of us are not in show business. Are we?