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The Seductress of Vanity
Did you catch the article written by Susan Dominus in the New York Times
on May 5, 2002? In her article entitled "The Seductress of Vanity,"
Susan describes a typical week for a well-known cosmetic dermatologist in New
York. The week is filled with procedures of facial peels, laser treatments,
collagen shots, liposuctions, and Botox injections (injections of a diluted
botulinum toxin). After reading the article, I glanced in the mirror and noticed
my ever-graying head of hair and the collection of "character
wrinkles" around my eyes. I then read the article again with the mission of
trying to understand why some women go to such extremes to alter their looks
instead of embracing their own uniqueness, which includes the signs of years
gone by. Here are some of the insights I gained from my efforts.
- To some, beauty is seen as rearrangeable - wrinkles can be removed,
lips can be thickened, chin fat can be removed.
- At one time, fashion conformed to women’s bodies. For example, full
skirts allowed for female curves. With new technologies, women’s bodies can
now be made to conform to fashion standards.
- A cosmetic dermatologist is viewed as an investment counselor for
models, actresses and trophy wives. Instead of stocks and bonds, the investment
currencies are beauty and youthful appearances.
- To many people this aggressive approach to skin care is viewed as extreme
vanity - morally suspect treatments of the idle rich. However, the FDA has
approved Botox for cosmetic applications, and the procedure is already finding
its way into the mainstream of cosmetic treatments across the country.
- The cosmetic dermatologist interviewed for this article is an advocate for
liposuction. She states, "People think that exercise will give them the
body they want. Exercise won’t give you the body you want. It will give you a
firm body you still don’t want."
Reality Alert from Betty - The benefits of
physical activity should not be judged only in the context of body
dimensions and include such things as
* decreased risk from chronic diseases like heart disease, certain
cancers and diabetes;
* increased strength, flexibility and aerobic capacity;
* improvement in several markers of health including blood
pressure, immune function, bone health, and blood lipid profile;
* psychological benefits including improved mood and stress
- These procedures have their critics, but the dermatologist dismisses them
as mostly hypocritical males who often leave their wives for younger women.
- The author offers an alternative to the multitude of procedures in pursuit
of the perfect face and body – self-acceptance.
Source: "The Seductress of Vanity" by Susan Dominus, New York
Times, May 5, 2002.
Compiled by Betty Holmes, MS, RD
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