Deirdre Kelly



To lift or not to lift? That used to be the question. But these days, taut-skinned patrons of the art of plastic surgery are everywhere; face lifts have become about as common as twice yearly visits to the dentist. Confessionals abound — many want to show off the scars they’ve attained in their battle against aging — and soon there will be a genre of literature devoted to the nipped and tucked, a new sort of pulp fiction. Vogue, no stranger to the knifestyles of the rich and famous, delivers a feature penned by the daughter of a 55-year-old woman who goes through the agony of facial reconstruction to get her looks back. Like many articles of this, uh, nature, the details are gruesome. “What I saw in room 503 was worse than any horror film I’d ever seen. Mom’s head was a big, bashed-in pumpkin,” writes Christine Muhlke in her August, 1999, article, Mother’s Little Helper. But, propelled by some kind of morbid curiosity, the reader ploughs on, wanting to arrive at the inevitable happy ending. It’s a strange experience, this consumption of vanity writing. Perhaps the appeal — in spite of the gross-out factor — is learning how possible it is to tap into some fountain of youth, no matter how painful. Or is it the thrill of the grotesque that keeps us enthralled? Only your surgeon knows for sure.

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