Friday, May 14, 2010
A recent article, "Why Your Career Needs Plastic Surgery—Literally"
by Penelope Trunk created a firestorm of mostly negative comments. The gist of her article is that if you want to get ahead in the business world, you have to look good. That means, possibly having cosmetic surgery, fixing your teeth, and being in shape.
Many women satisfied with how they look didn't like Ms. Trunk's advice. Most were adamant that their ordinary appearance did not have a negative effect on their success. But then, how could they know for sure? Perhaps an above average appearance would have paid off in even greater success.
Let's get real. We live in a disgustingly ageist society. Not only do we not like "old" people, it's not the norm to appreciate what they have to offer, except, perhaps, when they make fools of themselves. We laugh at old people when they behave like immature teenagers. Witness Betty White's raunchiness on SNL. What is so funny about an old woman with a potty mouth? It does nothing to elevate the status of older women. What if Betty had gotten a facelift, got back into shape, and used her comedic talent to inspire older women to explore and develop their latent potential in ways that do not denigrate the number of years lived?
Then there is Joan Rivers. Say what you will about her cosmetic surgeries, but she is certainly interesting to look at, and I suspect she sells a lot more of her wares on the home shopping channel because she does look good--as fake as everyone knows it is. Think about it – would you be more inclined to buy jewelry from the wrinkly, saggy version of Joan Rivers or the new and improved, youthful, inspiring Joan Rivers? Gloria Davis, 83,
wants to work, but when prospective employers see her age on a job application, they think she is too old. I don't know what Gloria looks like but I suspect that if she looked younger than her years she'd be more employable. Outrageous, yes, but that's the way the system works. Youth is in. What is perceived as "old" is out. Knowing that, you deal with reality.
Women (and men) who want to broaden their opportunities do what they think they have to do to get ahead. We all make choices and the choice to have cosmetic surgery is just as valid as a choice to go back to school to get an MBA if that's what you think it takes to help you get where you want to go in life.
If you are satisfied with your appearance, lucky you. If you are not satisfied, lucky you as well because as risky as it may be, you don't have to live with what you don't like about appearance, especially if you think it is holding you back from reaching your potential. Life is too short not to go for it when reasonable tools are available to help you along the way.
Barbara Morris, R. Ph.