Quote by Joan Crawford: “The face and boobs are new, only the ass is the same” said Crawford after cosmetic surgery for her comeback at MGM – 1953
Definitions of beauty in the 20th century, when referring to human physical beauty, are nearly always constructed in terms of outward appearance and sexual attractiveness. Nancy Baker’s definition is The Beauty Trap is more concerned with intangible personal qualities. “A truly beautiful woman makes the best of her physical assets but, more importantly, she also radiates a personal quality which is attractive.” In Beauty In History, Arthur Marwick defines a human physical beauty in more direct terms: “The beautiful are those who are immediately exciting to almost all of the opposite sex.”
Looking your best boosts the confidence – and the spirits. Just ask the ladies who’ve benefitted from the Look Good, Feel Better organisation’s work for women who are battling or recovering from cancer… And often faking confidence can lead to genuine confidence.
As countless makeover shows have proved over the years, a change of image – even a slight tweak – can work wonders, not just on your confidence but on how others see you. And that bounces back at you, and inspires self-confidence.
I was reminded of the power of the makeover when watching the classic noir melodrama Gilda, its star, Rita Hayworth wasn’t a chameleon on the scale of Joan Crawford, but she did undergo a couple of simple yet radical transformations during her career.
Her first occurred when she underwent painful and intensive electrolysis to move her hairline back: before the treatments, her hairline was very low and unflattering. Post-electrolysis, her beautiful face was shown to best advantage – and a star was born!
During the 1940s as her studio experimented occasionally with Technicolor, Rita went red – it’s still the hair colour with which this beauty is most associated – but for the stylish film noir The Lady From Shanghai, made in 1946 by her then-husband Orson Welles, she not only had her hair cropped but hit the bottle and went platinum blonde for the first and only time. She must not have liked it as I can’t recall ever coming across pictures of her with short, uber-blonde hair again…
For years actresses who wanted to avoid surgery endured the “Hollywood lift,” a face-tugging device rigged up by makeup artists with glue, silk thread, and rubber bands. But it was hard on the ears and would sometimes snap in the middle of a scene. “I haven’t made one in years,” says Michael Westmorc, the makeup designer and supervisor for the Star Trek television series and movies.
Marilyn Monroe had plastic surgery, although there is certainly no unanimity on how much or who did it. In 1949 Monroe was a $75-a-week contract player” who was “getting nowhere fast.” According to Patrick McGrady, in his book the Youth Doctors, after overhearing someone refer to her as “a chinless wonder,” Monroe had a tiny chin graft.
The work was performed by the late plastic surgeon John Pangman. However, Donald Spoto, in Marilyn Monroe, the Biography, credits late plastic surgeon Michael Gurdin with inserting a “silicone prosthesis in her jaw…to give her face a softer line” and “removing a slight bump of cartilage from the tip of [her] nose.” According to A. Richard Grossman, a plastic surgeon who worked with Gurdin in 1964, Pangman also gave Monroe breast implants. They were probably made of Ivalon sponge, the toublesome material that predated silicone gel. Other sources say Monroe may also have had now-forbidden liquid-silicone injected into her breasts. Credit: Allure – May 1995 - Nipping and Tucking in Tinseltown – Hollywood and plastic surgery started out together, and now, it seems, there can’t be one without the other. By Joan Kron
So, fast forward 50 or so years to today.,,,, How has this changed? At the Lindy Charm School for Girls we teach young girls and women of all ages how to look good and feel better in a Vintage Styling Way. We work with traditional methods and also modern day tricks to create a wonderful feminine, glamorous and the timeless beauty of a bygone era….but for who? and for what? and of course the ?? why? Only you can answer these questions for yourself but for me…The answer is simple… Because it makes ME feel good.. Not anyone else, just me.. and yes I am easily pleased by a bit of Red lippy and bright flower in my hair on a dull and gloomy day knowing that these little things can change an outlook on that day… It makes others feel good around me and that in turn makes me feel good so its a win win… I feel empowered (The degree depends on what I am wearing some days I can tell you), You see… I understand the pressures of women today…. same same but different to our foremothers and I believe if we feel good about ourselves then that is one less thing to worry about and we can go forth as we women do and care and nurture all those others around us, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Make time for you first and you can then do what needs to be done each day .. You CAN have it all…. Anyway, enough of my ramblings, the real message in this story comes from 3 of the most inspirational women I know, My two sisters and our Mother… I asked them what the Look Good Feel Better statement meant to them and I wanted to share their brief yet powerful messages with you. They are all so so different yet intrinsically entwined.
My Little Sister – Elisha – 33 years old – Mum of Jack (10 yo) – starting her own Support Group for young women with Cancer called “BFF” (Stay tuned for that one).. Fighting the good Fight with Extensive Ovarian Cancer and maintaining her fabulousness all the while…
This is MY experience and my experience only, every individual is different and beauty plays a different role in their lives. Beauty to me WAS all external. The better you looked on the outside the better you felt on the inside. This meant thousands of dollars spent on cosmetics, cosmetic surgery, fashion etc. There was not only a pressue from myself to do this but an external pressure from society. I felt to belong to the elite part of society that were prosthetically and symetrically beautiful I needed to keep trying to perfect my appearance through cosmetic enhancement, it became an addiction, as you never acheive perfection but you continually strive for it, thus never being completely happy with your appearance, a vicious cycle.
Luckily through my experience with cancer I have had to deal with my appearance in a different way. Due to no more money and undergoing extensive treatment I have been unable to keep up my cosmetic addiction. No more botox, fillers, hair extentions, new make up, spray tans, porcelen teeth, miracle creams, latest fashions, and all the bullshit that claims to make you “perfect”. So over the months my botox has worn off and my wrinkles have popped out, my hair has fallen out and I am bald, my skin is pale and dry ect., pretty much the complete opposite of what I was striving for previously. All in all I feel the same. I dont beleive the thousands of dollars I spent made the difference to my happiness.
When faced with a life threatening illness my perception on what is important and what is not has changed dramatically. Appearance that was once paramount is now insignificant up against the will to be 100% healthy and doing good to your body, striving to be happy and put a smile on your face when feeling terrible and ill, appreciating each day you are given and making the most of it, seeing beauty in all things.
I have spent alot of time looking at people in my many moments of sitting and reflecting on what has happened to me and one of the things i noticed was the different smiles people carry. I found that “ordinary looking” people who perhaps are carrying a bit of extra weight and not wearing the latest fashion, carried the biggest smiles, versus the “perfect looking” skinny fashionista who did not wear a smile at all. This obervation resinated with me and what I had recently discovered.
Summing up, I am not saying I dont care about my appearance as I still do, I like to make and effort and take an element of pride in my appearance as a choice, but by no means to the extreme that I once did, Ive simply swaped plastic for fantastic – meaning how you feel inside is far more important than how you look on the outside!!! Age old saying beauty comes from within.
My Mother – Claudette – 65 Years Old – Mum of 5 and Grandma of 6 and Great Grandma of 2) – Runs her own Charity for Homeless men called MOT “Men out There” Makes all the flowers, Do Rags, Pegs and anything The Lindy Charm School for Girls needs!
I have always believed that beauty comes from inside of us and giving is the only way to feel good even though sometimes that giving back fires, in those times we have to learn to give from the heart. Once we can learn that, the giving freely, expecting nothing, the beauty inside shines through. I knew I would loose my hair with the chemo I was to have, everyone said Buy a Wig. I always said no because this is what I am and why try to make myself something I am not. I wear hats and scarves to keep my head warm in the cold. Everyone has said I have a beautiful shaped head and my baldness looks good. Being bald sure did not make me feel any different on the inside. It did get me a lot of help and a lot of smiles when I was really bald now its growing back a little people don’t notice. I missed the grey stage of ageing through dying my hair red now i am competely white and it is staying that way because that is the real me.
My Other Beautiful Sister Veronica – 43 Years Old – Mum of Kasper (9 yo) – Amazing Actress, Artistic Director of Vulcana Womens Circus as well as the Author of her book “Pieces of me” – Available here: Pieces of Me
When I had a double mastectomy at the age of 39 I seriously considered not having a reconstruction. I was just not sure whom I would be reconstructing for. I felt like I could be doing it for others and what they thought of me or just to look ‘normal’. I didn’t like the idea of having fake breasts just to fit with societies fickle and mostly unnatural ideas of what we should look like. When I was finally sure I was doing it for myself I went ahead and had a very painful reconstruction and then four subsequent surgeries to sort out malfunctions. I am glad I have two ridiculously firm and dubiously pert representations of boobs but it does challenge my ideals about beauty.
My two sisters call me the tree hugging natural hippie type. Well I never really hug trees and hippies would be ashamed of most of my lifestyle choices. I do however try very hard to accept the natural beauty that I was awarded whether I like it or not. I rarely wear make up and high heels or go to the hairdresser, manicurist or beauty clinic but I do however take pride in my appearance. My sisters actually think that I am so confident that I just don’t care how I look but they are wrong, I do care very much but I just don’t want to pretend I look better than I actually do. I wish I looked like Miranda Kerr without make up, fresh face and stunning, well I don’t come close but I do look in the mirror and say this is me and I’m OK with that. I actually know that I look better with make up on, I’m an actor and have to dress up for a living, but I continue to challenge myself to face the world with my real face each day and I definitely don’t want to mess with my mind and try to constantly turn back the clock. I would love to think that I can grow old gracefully, happily, and with a shining beauty that is all my own.
I am still quite vain, well vainer than I would like. Funnily enough when my sisters see me and think I have made no effort at all I have done little subtle things that can’t really be seen that do enhance my features. For example I die my own eyebrows at home, use a Chanel natural powder, put just enough mascara on that it can’t be detected, apply a natural looking lip gloss. Ha Ha all this just to look natural! I still have a ways to go I think .
What Does it mean to you?