There are a lot of things I hear about in my industry circles regarding losing weight and looking “ideal” by the American media’s standards. Interestingly, when I have traveled to other countries—even Western countries such as Italy, France, Israel, Germany and the Netherlands—advertisements and billboards do not depict the kind of models and actors we so in the good old US-of-A. We seem to be one of the only countries in the world where our actors and models, for the most part, literally look like Barbie and Ken dolls.
For instance, I just heard about this treatment. This cryotherapy method of freezing your fat in order to lose weight. You apparently stand in a six-foot-tall machine that blasts you with air between minus 184 and minus 292 degrees Fahrenheit. This supposedly freezes off fat, boosts metabolism, and in the process, melts away about 800 more calories than your fat body used to. (At least that’s what they say.)
In my Blossom years, there was far less emphasis on perfection. The ideal body in the ’80s and ’90s was a Playboy bunny: skinny, with large fake breasts and no curves (except for the large fake breasts). Blonde was in, big lips and big puppy dog eyes were in and tons of lip gloss and mascara. No one wore Spanx or any type of body smoothers. Certainly not men! You wore clothes that flattered your body, but the idea that there should be no “bumps” to your physique did not exist.
Fast forward to this incarnation of my career. In the 21st century, both men and women routinely wear Spanx. Many actresses I know even wear Spanx when out and about running errands in jeans and a T-shirt. Many non-actresses I know have started to do the same. The norm has become a seamless, fat-free, streamlined body. Like we are made of plastic… like we are mannequins, really. That’s the look.
As for me, I started to get gray hair here and there about five years ago. Now it’s more than here and there, but it still doesn’t show on TV. During What Not To Wear, they convinced me to allow them to dye my hair darker, kind of a raven color. On The Secret Life of The American Teenager, you can see me with darker hair. On ’Til Death, where I played a psychiatrist, it was also dark. Then it faded, and I started The Big Bang Theory. I have not dyed it since and don’t plan to. I like gray hair. I do believe it’s a false contrived notion we have that gray is ugly. It isn’t ugly—it just is. It means I’m old enough to have earned it. It doesn’t bug me.
By comparison, there are a few things about the aging process that do bug me. And almost everyone I come into contact with—industry or not—has had surgery to correct these things or plans to:
1. Hooding Eyes
Some of this is genetic, but my eyes have started “hooding.” That is, the upper lids are lower on my face than they used to be. I learned that sometimes this can get so severe that it impedes your vision. (Wow.) For now, though, it’s just something that bothers me aesthetically but isn’t terribly troublesome.
What’s the proposed solution? Plastic surgery. Not full-on surgery to remove the skin of my upper lids (which is what some people have done), but a less dramatic fix: a plastic surgeon would basically lift from the hairline above the eyebrows and reduce the weight of skin, since that is actually what’s causing the hooding. Yup.
2. “Questionable” Veins
I know this is also genetic, and I wouldn’t say I have varicose veins. (Yet.) What I do have is broken capillaries (I think) right on the insides of each knee. And one vein in my calf is—I admit it—a tad thicker than it used to be.
What are the options? Well, besides me seeing a future in which I’m always wearing darkly colored tights (which I think is a solution!), some people have these veins taken care of. They inject them with a salt solution, which is called sclerotherapy. It’s not a major procedure. But that’s what they do.
Around and under my eyes and at the corners they cluster, like arrows pointing, “Here are her eyes!” “This way to her eyes!” And the “laugh lines” around my mouth are deeper, as are the creases in my forehead—most evident when I crinkle up my forehead in worry (which is I guess how they got there after 40 years of making that face). In addition, when I pucker up my lips, those lines all around my lips have gotten deeper. And no, I’m not a smoker nor do I excessively use a straw (things I have been asked when I’ve asked makeup artists about these lines).
What’s the suggested solution? Botox. Injecting botulism into your face with a needle. But you can’t do it too much or your face sticks that way and you can’t make “real” authentic facial expressions because the muscles are literally frozen and stuck. Or you get numbness and weird disturbances of sensation.
So when it comes right down to it, I simply don’t want to get plastic surgery—or really, any of these procedures. I don’t plan to get plastic surgery, which I know makes me an anomaly in my industry, but I also don’t get manicures (even for the Emmys) or go to the gym every day to maintain Hollywood’s idea of an ideal body weight. I just don’t want to alter myself.
However, “not wanting” and “not planning” to do it is not the same as saying “I will never do it.” I can’t say that I will never get plastic surgery, because honestly, if there comes a point when I am limited in my job, when these cosmetic issues become an impediment, I guess I might have to do it. Because it’s a superficial business I am part of, in which all of this stuff truly does matter (to someone). The degree to which it matters, in my career (and to me), is still what I’m figuring out.
But if I ever do get my eyes or my lips or my veins done, or if I do dye my hair, I’ll make sure to talk about it here, and we can grok it together.