It’s no secret that our society favors youth and beauty. But there’s a darker side to this reality that isn’t as readily apparent: We value effortless youth and beauty. Try too hard to achieve either, and you’re deemed fake, vain, in denial, or a mix of all three.
Silicon Valley professional and blogger Andrea Berman recently shared her experience with this impossible catch-22, and her thoughts were eye-opening (and not just because of the blepharoplasty she’s had done on her upper eyelids).
Making The Choice To Go Under The Knife
Berman explained on her over-50 beauty blog, The Beauty Maestra, that she never imagined she’d ever have “work” done. But it didn’t take long for the pressure of her professional career in Silicon Valley to take root in her psyche.
“As an adult, my livelihood depended on [how I looked],” she wrote. “I lived in a youth-obsessed mecca, the HQ of the tech world, the San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley. After all, it was Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who coined the adage (at the ripe old age of 23) that ‘young people are just smarter.’”
Berman held off on going under the knife for a while. But eventually, the inquiries about her (still far-off) retirement, an increasingly daunting beauty routine, and a newfound aversion to being photographed convinced her otherwise.
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A Decision Three Years In The Making
Of course, this wasn’t an overnight revelation. It took about three years for Berman to commit to plastic surgery, a decision she was still unsure of even while lying on the operating table. She had a neck lift, lower facelift, and upper blepharoplasty. She outlined her lengthy recovery process on her blog.
Berman also wrestled with anxiety regarding her plastic surgery. What if she ended up looking worse? Does having plastic surgery mean you’re a failure or a cheat? Moreover, what about the risks of the surgery itself? Was the financial and physical toll worth what some might call a “vanity project?”
But now, post-op and on the mend, Berman said she’s come to terms with her decision. The way she discussed (and reconciled with) the contradictions around cosmetic surgery really spoke to me—and it might speak to you, too.
Making Peace With Her Choices
“It took me a while to realize that my end goal was to look as good as I possibly could—for my age,” Berman wrote. “If the surgery resulted in a bit younger-looking me, then that was great but not mandatory. Vain, frivolous? Maybe.”
At the same time, Berman pointed out that cosmetic procedures make up a multi-billion dollar industry ($14.6 billion in 2021, with 2022 prepped to exceed that). Facial surgeries like Berman’s increased 54% in 2021 alone.
“This tells me that the demand is high … yet the numbers of those who admit to it are not equivalent to the numbers getting it,” said Berman. “It is a consummate open secret … What catch-22 world places such immense importance on appearance and youth yet frowns on those who pursue it?”
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‘My Mojo Is Back’
I see myself and the women around me in Berman’s struggle. Society starts its onslaught of beauty propaganda early: I remember having a “dream plastic surgery” list at the age of 10. As Berman wrote, “Ageism exists, and we all have internalized it to some extent … The stigma of aesthetic plastic surgery does nothing but continue the ageism status quo.”
Berman’s experience is a refreshing contrast to the overwhelming stigma around cosmetic surgery. She acknowledged that “there would likely be a lot less plastic surgery if aging were truly lauded. This would require a heavy cultural shift.” And since it’s doubtful whether that shift will ever happen, she did what she felt was best for her within the confines of our current society—and she’s happy with her decision.
“Do I wish we lived in a less ageist world? Absolutely,” she said. Still, “after all of the rumination and self-judgment, I am good with my decision and can live with the contradictions … My mojo is back. In fact, I wish I had pulled the trigger sooner.”