Botoxing Your Resume

Two weeks ago, we wrestled with ageism and the workplace in Dangers of Looking Your Age.

Last Thursday, the New York Times jumped on the bandwagon with Nice Resume. Have You Considered Botox? The focus of the article was a wildly popular new book, which debuted on The New York Times best-seller list at #8 in the advice and how-to category; as of post-time, it ranked #11 on Amazon. Written by former Glamour beauty director Charla Krupp, a columnist for More magazine, the book is How Not to Look Old. The book jacket explains its reason-for-being: "Looking hip is not just about vanity anymore, it's critical to every woman's personal and financial survival!"

The Times article pokes plenty of fun at the book's scary chapter headlines: NOTHING AGES YOU LIKE...FOREHEAD LINES....NOTHING AGES YOU LIKE....YELLOW TEETH...NOTHING AGES YOU LIKE A SAGGY BUTT (okay, that last one was my contribution). Charla Krupp describes the book as "THE Fashion and Beauty Bible for Women over 30!" (Since 30 is clearly old.)

Ms. Krupp manages to insult men, women, and all of corporate America in one swoop: "Whether we want to admit it or not, in male corporate America we would rather have a cute, sexy 30-year-old working for us than a 50-year-old with gray hair who has let herself go and looks like a nun." Wow! I didn't know these were the only two choices for women.

Anecdotes and research show the American work world is riddled with ageism. But how much is changed by terrifying women or oversimplifying the solutions? I know plenty of men in corporate America who care about skills, competence and potential far more than how many wrinkles you've got. There are plenty of women who have done fabulously well in their careers who have always showed their age. More than a few women say looking young and attractive has hurt more than it's helped. Finally, ageism is far from a female phenomenon; men are victims, too.

However, I feel the same about make-up, hair coloring and cosmetic surgery as I do about freezing your eggs to lengthen your fertility window. There's nothing wrong with it. Aging stinks. A face lift, some Botox injections, and liposuction are weapons of choice in an unfair fight against our culture, our country's employment practices and our biology, all of which clearly favor youth. Until ageism ceases to exist, why not fight back?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  January 30, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Workplaces
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"Aging stinks"

Wait till you go through menopause!!

With teenagers!!

Posted by: chittybangbang | January 30, 2008 7:58 AM

This is something I've been thinking about a lot since last week's post about ageism. I personally am all about either maintaining what nature gave you or purchasing what she did not.

But the flip side of this is the message it sends my daughter. Aren't we supposed to be teaching our daughters that looks don't matter, that everyone is the size they're meant to be and diets aren't healthy, that it's what's inside that counts? All you read about is how society's super-thin and super-perfect ideals are harmful and unhealthy. There are all kinds of books and task forces and movements to convey this to our girls and to encourage them to fight these stereotypes. We encourage girls to excel in sports, in math, in life in general--and not to focus on looks because, we insist, looks aren't what's important.

Lately it's striking me as incredibly hypocritical for me to be teaching my daughter those things then turning around and portraying the exact opposite. How can it not be confusing to her when I tell her that every girl is the size she's supposed to be and not to worry about food--then work hard to maintain my weight by working out, eating everything low fat, etc. No, I don't diet and never, ever restrict what she eats and do genuinely believe that every person has a set weight that is easily maintained by eating healthy and exercising--but almost every other mom I know does restrict her daughter's eating.

Obviously any procedure a woman has done, with the possible exception of Botox (unless you get huge welts that take a day to subside like I do) necessitates some sort of surgery and subsequent recovery period. It's not like you can hide it from a kid over the age of probably 5, and certainly not from a pre-teen or teenage girl. How are we supposed to answer when our daughters ask why we've just spent thousands and undergone risky surgery if looks don't matter?

The point is--if ageism is a fact of life and in the end it turns out that looks do, in fact, matter, why are we bothering to teach them otherwise? Is it that looks don't matter...until a certain age at which time they do matter?

Posted by: maggielmcg | January 30, 2008 8:20 AM

Maggie - Excellent points. I don't see the hypocrisy, however. I've always, even as a teenager, felt that looking my best, however I define "best," was an important sign of self-respect. For men and women. Looking good at 50, 60, 70 and beyond, even with a degree of interference, fits with this philosophy.

You could take the "natural" argument to a silly extreme -- is wearing make up okay? what about brushing your hair? your teeth? wearing deodorant? because some people could argue these are not natural.

You can also take it to a dangerous extreme. Part of the Muslim burka approach is to take away women's natural beauty and self-esteem and the power and freedom that comes with feeling great about yourself as a woman.

Lastly, a detour into the world of anorexia. Anorexia was not, in my experience, about being thin and attractive. By the end of my experience, "thin" was an understatement and I'm pretty sure no one found me attractive. In fact, the last thing I wanted was attention from other people regarding how I looked. Anorexia was about being in control, and finding something (anything) that made me feel that I was as good as or better than others. Anorexia is a serious problem that, in my opinion, is not on the same spectrum as worrying about looking your best. So I don't think you need to worry about your daughters becoming anorexic because you decide, in a rational, adult way, that cosmetic surgery will help you feel better about yourself and ward off ageism.

Posted by: leslie4 | January 30, 2008 8:35 AM

Maggie -- I think that it's about modeling healthy living to your daughter - maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritious foods, and exercise send positive messages in my book. Like Leslie, I am a proponent of good grooming and I can understand wanting to erase a few lines. {Too bad Botox freaks me out]. I am a runner and love love love the fact that I see dads and kids on the sides of race courses holding up "run mommy run" signs - I like the example that sets for their kids.

Posted by: tntkate | January 30, 2008 8:53 AM

I also wonder what we're teaching our children but I mostly wonder about opportunity costs. (Currently I'd like botox, but I'd like a new couch for the family room more.)

There's getting enough exercise and working out enough to stay healthy, but at some point there's a line that you cross where in order to maintain the perfect figure you find yourself giving up other things. I'm not talking about giving up chocolate cake, but as some of you talked about before, justifying the huge time sink that those trips to the gym take when there's so much else going on in your life. I've kind of come to terms with the fact that I will have the kind of body you can get with 45 minute trips to the gym several times a week -- and not the kind of body that my neighbor has (who spends four hours a day at the gym every single day). I enjoy reading literature, taking art classes and experimenting with cooking -- and I"m not willing to give up all my other hobbies in order to spend that time at the gym. I'm hoping to show my girls that it's important to be well-rounded.

Posted by: justlurking | January 30, 2008 8:59 AM

I'm hoping to show my girls that it's important to be well-rounded.

*rim shot!*

Loved your post, justlurking!

I've noticed through the years that self-confidence is pretty heady stuff too. Costs less than botox or plastic surgery, and has no risk of infection.


Posted by: maryland_mother | January 30, 2008 9:06 AM

"A face lift, some Botox injections, and liposuction are weapons of choice in an unfair fight against our culture, our country's employment practices and our biology, all of which clearly favor youth."

Regular exercise, reasonably healthy eating habits and sunscreen are also widely available, safe "weapons of choice". Cost a lot less too.

Exercise would benefit a lot of Americans dogs too. I've seen waaaayyy too many fat dogs with hip dysplasia and other ills.

If you won't do it for yourself, or any kids around the house, then do it for the doggies!

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 30, 2008 9:12 AM

Eating disorders are of course way more complex than merely being concerned about appearance--and in most ways aren't necessarily about appearance at all. I'm sure I don't have to tell you or anyone else that a person can be bulimic and look totally "normal" so, ostensibly, if a woman is or has been bulimic it won't affect her daughter, right? According to many therapists, definitely not right-- genetic factors account for at least half the risk of developing an eating disorder. Also, how much or your or my acceptance of cosmetic surgery can actually be attributed to those same genes or factors that caused the eating disorder? Certainly there are many women out there who don't agree with this philosophy at all--cosmetic surgery is acceptable and even necessary--probably the same women who never had body image issues.

Just as people who never had body image issues or eating disorders can't fathom how someone could look in the mirror and not see a skeleton the way an anorexic does or how a person would ever CHOOSE to make herself throw up while bulimics not only think nothing of it but actually find it pleasurable--I think the cosmetic surgery issue is an offshoot of the same thing. A person with a healthy body image can look in the mirror and shrug at wrinkles or saggy boobs and genuinely not obsess about it while a person with body image distortion issues--even if they've been symptom-free for years (symptom free meaning not practicing unhealthy eating or purging or exercising behaviors) just can't be ok with it and feels she must do what's necessary to correct whatever flaw. To me it's the same body image disorder just manifesting differently.

Again, I say this not pointing fingers at anyone, unless it's to wish I could be more like someone who would never dream of spending $200 on eye cream or selling stuff on ebay to pay for Botox!

Posted by: maggielmcg | January 30, 2008 9:14 AM

I think ageism is very, very real and is a serious problem. I'm glad to see More magazine mentioned even if I'm uncertain about the book, because it's one of the few mainstream publications that doesn't pretend women over 40 don't exist. (The newish Canadian edition is even better! Okay, end of plug :))

As the boomer population ages though, I wonder if we may find that ageism gets addressed just de facto because there might be a lack of competent youthful replacements in the same numbers. I'm hopeful that there will be some movement forward, even if it's not likely to be perfect.

For the topic of how to deal with it personally though - I guess I think there is a difference between basing one's self-esteem on one's appearance, and making a considered decision that in a particular field, looks count enough that it's important to do procedure X.

I think as long as we women (and men! men are increasingly under the same pressure!) are making that decision from a position of power and not from a sense that if we don't do x our lives are over! over! it's okay.

I have made the opposite choice now and then and stayed away from positions where my looks would be on the table (like broadcast tv). Now I'm glad because as I age it remains a non-issue... so far. But it might get there and I'll have to assess my goals vs. the personal costs at that time.

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | January 30, 2008 9:16 AM

"Until ageism ceases to exist, why not fight back?"

Well, I guess it depends on how important you think ageism is. If you kinda think it's a shame but isn't really a big deal, then sure, go along to get along. But if you really decry it as much as you say you do, don't you have somewhat of a responsibility to push back against the stereotype instead of conforming to it?

I'm with justlurking on the opportunity costs. There are two parts of my body I haven't liked since I was 9 years old (and they haven't gotten better with time!). I would dearly love cosmetic surgery to make them go away. But how can I justify spending $15-30K on that, when I have two kids to put through school? On the other hand, my husband has just been informed that he needs to buy a better suit and "power tie" (whatever the bleep that is) to impress customers, so that we'll spring for.

I draw the line at reasonably socially acceptable and presentable. I'm not going to run around without deodorant because that's not really socially acceptable. I'm not going to run around with wild hair, because that would not look professional or acceptable at my job. But I'm not going to pretend to be something I'm not. I'm not going to go out and dye my hair so I can pretend I'm 30. I'm not going to inject botulism toxin into my forehead, or have my skin yanked up under my hairline, so I can pretend I don't have wrinkles. I've earned these wrinkles, dammit, and if someone isn't going to hire me because I don't look like some 28-yr-old hot body, well, their loss -- I'm already busy enough, thanks.

Posted by: laura33 | January 30, 2008 9:18 AM

With regards to aging an ex-boyfriend had an interesting take on facial lines -- to him creases around the eyes and mouth were a sign of well lived life. To him it meant the person had spent life squinting into the sun and laughing alot.

Posted by: tntkate | January 30, 2008 9:20 AM

"Aging stinks.

Considering the alternative -- death -- I'll take aging, thank you very much.

Posted by: owlice | January 30, 2008 9:21 AM

I am 48. I like wearing makeup and enjoy wearing fun clothes. My problem with aging and trying to stop its course is the cost involved. My health insurance just changed with a $1,000.00 deductible and $2,500.00 out of pocket. So I need that much money in savings just in case of a medical emergency. Where in the world will I get the money to save for retirement, pay all my bills, etc and have botox, etc.? The money simply is not there at this time. Should I stop contribuing to my 401K so I can afford procedures to look younger and therefore keep my job? Is it that bad out there for women? Sometimes I fear that it is.

Posted by: pkm123 | January 30, 2008 9:27 AM

Never. This chick (or old bat, take your pick) doesn't do elective surgery and that includes Botox. I am proud of the way I look. Okay, I might mourn my pre-baby body from time to time, but that body was able to produce (granted not single-handedly) two healty, happy and beautiful children and nourish them for quite some time after they popped out.

Our culture's obsession with youth, beauty, and whatever defines "hotness" at the moment means that people who seek to keep up have to constantly change their methods, spending a bloody fortune in the process as well as losing their self-respect and often that of others. I plan to age as gracefully as possible and read "When I am an Old Woman" whenever I need to.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 30, 2008 9:28 AM

Again, this is my point about the connection between body image issues and buying into cosmetic surgery as a necessary evil to combat ageism. Just as I can't imagine how a drug addict can afford the drugs and would myself never spend money on drugs, or how people who can barely get by financially can magically come up with hundreds of dollars a month for cigarettes, I can, however, justify spending obscene amounts of money on cosmetic surgery (it not necessarily in practice yet certainly in theory-and the money I have already spent I'm sure would make some people gasp). Does this mean that I have a skewed perception of the importance of looks as it pertains to success in life in general? I'm sure it does--but it doesn't change the fact that I have that perception and am probably passing this skewed perception onto my daughter in some ways and struggle with that fact.

Posted by: maggielmcg | January 30, 2008 9:31 AM

I disagree with Leslie when she says that aging stinks. Some parts about aging do stink, e.g, health issues for some, having to be more disciplined about what we eat, unpleasant menopausal symptoms for some women.

There are other aspects of aging that don't stink at all. There's a certain calmness that comes from having the perspective that comes from experience and a sense of history. I have a richer appreciation for literature that comes from having life experience. I'm not there yet, but there will be a certain amount of freedom from the day-to-day responsibilities of raising children and a joy in relating to them adult to adult.

I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with cosmetic procedures for those who want to spend their money that way and who are comfortable with the risks. I think it's a mistake to promote the idea that those who don't make those choices will suffer.

Ms. Krupp wants to sell books, so she makes extreme statements that will exploit the vulnerabilities people have about aging. That doesn't mean we have to believe her extreme ideas about these matters and just roll over. It sounds as though she is promoting a version of the Stepford wife for the workforce.

I do think it matters to make an effort to be healthy and well-groomed. Especially for the workforce, it does make a difference to wear clothes that fit well and are well-styled in a way that suits the person wearing them.

Leslie says that Botox, cosmetic surgery, etc. are a way of fighting back. Why not fight back by refusing to succumb to cosmetic surgery risks if we don't want them? I'd much rather invest time, money, and energy to good health, enjoying life, and developing knowledge and interests.

Really, I have no interest in working with or even being around people who place so much emphasis on women becoming eye candy. I would rather be around well-rounded people like just lurking. I expect that I'll be a lot happier in 20 years than people who share Ms. Krupp's worldview.

Posted by: marian3 | January 30, 2008 9:36 AM

A lot of the commenters here today are lucky enough to be satisfied with their appearance as they age and that's great. Sometimes this is because they have a "healthy self-image" (as some have said), other times it is probably because they have genes that put them in a more attractive body to begin with.

I'd like to talk about my experience as someone that has had cosmetic surgery (sort of). I was not blessed with good looks and have managed to "enhance" my appearance by staying in shape, taking care of my skin, dressing attractively, etc. And, I have noticed over the years that when I let things go, it definitely affects my success on the job.

I'm now almost 50 and am starting to show my age. In my case it is not cute little crows feet at the corner of my eyes, instead it is deep, vertical furrows between my eyes, and a general droopiness to my face. Both of these conditions run in my family and both make me look old, tired and actually pretty grumpy.

So finally I went to a plastic surgeon to talk about options. I don't have tons of money, so I wouldn't be able to spend $15K or more to have something major done. What he ended up talking me into doing was having laser skin resurfacing, botox between my eyes and restylane in my nasal folds. That was about 9 months ago. The botox and restylane have pretty much worn off by now, but because the laser firmed things up you can't really tell. There is still one thing I'd like to do (eye lift) someday, but for now I'm satisfied.

I don't know if it is that I look better that is helping me out professionally, or that I feel better about myself, but regardless of the reason, I don't regret having spent the $5K it cost to have these things done.

Posted by: jjtwo | January 30, 2008 10:02 AM

Why is the title of this post "botoxing your resume"? This is not about botoxing your resume, but about botoxing your body. I thought there was going to be some discussion of the merits and tactics of creating a resume that does not allow the reader to know how old the applicant is.

Posted by: mucus99 | January 30, 2008 10:12 AM

Eating healthy and getting exercise are sure a big part of looking good. I find it amusing that mildly overweight people are willing to spend thousands of dollars for liposuction and tummy-tucks when they could just eat better and exercise and achieve almost the same result.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | January 30, 2008 10:12 AM

i've always found natural people more attractive. "Enhancements" creep me out. Whether it's a 19-year-old with a boob job or a 60-year-old with a face lift, it just looks unnatural to me and creeps me out. I think there's something every comforting about older people having wrinkles and looking their age--I find facelifts and eyelifts and such extremely disturbing-looking, not to mention how horrified I am by the actual blood and surgical pulling of skin and stapling and such.

now, all of you can start in about how "with a skilled surgeon, you can never tell work's been done" and so forth. honey, if you're 83 and don't have wrinkles, it looks unnatural and clearly you HAVE had work done. now, certainly some surgeons are less skilled than others and do make their patients look scarier.

plastic surgery is an honorable field--it helps burn victims and solves back problem (in the case of breat reductions) and builds self-confidence in many patients having procedures. I just find the whole field fairly creepy. :)

Posted by: newslinks1 | January 30, 2008 10:23 AM

Leslie, I have to say I second Laura on this one. Either you think ageism is wrong and you stand up for your wrinkles or you think ageism is okay and you go under the knife. I just don't think you can have it both ways.

The truth is if we all fought back by being vocal about this issue, by refusing to buy products that endorse the idea that white hair and wrinkles are the end of the world, if we refused botox and plastic surgery, if we stopped telling ourselves that old is hideous, it we stopped telling the world that it's okay to discriminate against us by buying into ageism, then maybe things would be different.

The key to becoming a beautiful older woman is to become wiser, to become more creative, to become more loving, and to become more accepting of oneself, having a little more confidence in yourself rather than less. I mean really, has anybody else actually seem Nora Epron lately, the I Don't Like My Neck lady? Her energy and creativity are inspiring, the plastic mask that her face has become has me a little wierded out.

There's just alot more to what you project to the world than hair, skin, and bones. There's energy and intelligence, creativity and good humor. Take 80% of the plastic surgeons in the country and put them to work for Project Smile and take 90% of the time women in this country spend worrying about their looks and put it towards some kind of community service. We would all be so much better off.

Posted by: pinkoleander | January 30, 2008 10:25 AM

pinkoleander - I don't really disagree with you, but I'd like to just bring up another thought. Say we did away with plastic surgery, and stopped thinking age is "hideous" and everything else you suggested. What worries me is that still, if you line me up against someone that looks better, I am going to suffer. If I really felt that everyone I ever met would treat me the same regardless of how I looked then I would sign up for your approach. Unfortunately, I don't think that is going to happen.

Posted by: jjtwo | January 30, 2008 10:31 AM

It can be a double-edged sword. I look far younger than I am, and that hurts me, I think. Lots of people assume I'm a 20-something with little experience when in reality, I have over a dozen years of professional experience. We can't win, it seems.

Posted by: tsouderos | January 30, 2008 10:35 AM

Unfortunately, if I fight ageism in the workplace by being a rebel of sorts by not dying my hair and not wearing makeup, I'm certain to lose my job - then where will I be? A rebel without a home and lots of wrinkles. I can't change the mindset of the work world (in the next 15 years) to become enlightened about women and aging - I can make small efforts towards that end but I cannot risk it all and live on the streets to prove a point.

Women need a healthy halfway point about aging and working. I don't want to feel like aging is a horrible experience - I actually feel pretty good about it. I don't want to lose that feeling and confidence by worrying about my looks all the time. That is not healthy for any woman. I am trying to exercise more and lose a little weight to stay in the game. I am using more over the counter products to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. I do color my hair and will continue.

It is my hope that this will be enough. There are days that I feel it will not be and I will be forced to submit to plastic surgery - I hope not for the sake of all women, old and young.

Posted by: pkm123 | January 30, 2008 10:49 AM

Well Jitwo, unless your planning to audition for Miss America you will probably never actually be lined up against a row of gorgeous people for comparison sake, but I get what you are saying.

The way I look at is some people are just shallow and childish and there's not much you can do about it. They may like somebody else better because of their race, their gender, where they come from, where they went to college, their accent, their religion, who knows what. You just don't let this get to you, and you never, ever, ever let it affect how you feel about yourself.

You just go through life looking for the beauty in the world around you, the beauty in yourself, and probably most importantly, the beauty in what you are doing, whether that's writing computer programs, planning a legal defense, writing a blog, caring for children, doing a science experiment, caring for the sick, or starting a business. You go out looking for the kick in the thing you do, and there's usually something to admire if you look for it. Either you take responsibility for finding the beauty in yourself and your life and the activities of your day or you don't, at which point you get stuck letting the world tell you whether it's okay for you to be happy with yourself or not.

I just don't subscribe to the wisdom of letting other's treatment of me determine how I am going to feel about my life or about myself. If people lay criticism on me I'll listen to see if there's something to learn, but when it comes to my appearance as far as I'm concerned my critics are speaking Chinese. I just have better things to do than listen.

Posted by: pinkoleander | January 30, 2008 11:00 AM

"If I really felt that everyone I ever met would treat me the same regardless of how I looked then I would sign up for your approach. Unfortunately, I don't think that is going to happen."

But, jjtwo, do you really need/want to be hanging around people who treat you differently because you're not as hot, or cute, or young? Especially in a work situation? I prefer to know that about people up front -- I would HATE to find myself working at a place where I was judged on how cute I was, rather than on how well I did what they were supposedly paying me to do.

I understand if you need a job and are looking for whatever you can find, you can't necessarily afford to "fight the system" or be too choosy. But I'd think if you had the luxury of looking for the right fit, then you'd be judging their values as closely as they're judging you. Daring to be who you really are, and then watching their response to that, is a great way to see whether THEY are good enough for YOU to devote your time and energy and abilities to.

Off-track example: I was the worst dater in the world; marginally cute, but never hot, and clueless with the games. I basically had two boyfriends over about a decade. But I married the second one -- because when I did find the right guy, I knew for sure that he loved me for me, because I had never been anything else. My stepsister, on the other hand, is far cuter, far nicer, far sweeter, all around a far better person, and was never without a boyfriend. But her relationships all died after a year or two -- she was so concerned about pleasing the guys she was with that she never really showed her true self, and never thought about whether they were really pleasing her. So the guys got spoiled from all the constant "nice," which of course she couldn't keep up forever, and then they'd feel like they got a bit of a bait and switch when she finally let the real "her" peek through; meanwhile, she was exhausted from trying so hard and wondering why she never felt loved and accepted and supported and valued despite everything she did for them. When she asked my advice, I suggested being herself -- she might not have as many dates (though anyone who wouldn't want her would have to be a complete idiot anyway), but she would know that the ones who did stick must like the real her. And seriously, the very next guy she dated is the one she married -- and he's a WAY better class of guy than the others.

Longwinded point is that if you want people to accept you for you, you have to dare to be you. Side benefit is that being yourself will lead the bad places and people to automatically disqualify themselves from further consideration.

Posted by: laura33 | January 30, 2008 11:05 AM

I would like to place myself firmly and obstinately in the camp with fellow posters who revel in growing older and wiser, and rebel against the suggestion that "With youth and good looks come success."

I consider myself a successful person, both in career and in life. And nothing, NOTHING that I value or treasure has ever come to me because of how I look. You can argue with me on that point, but what matters is that I believe it to be true, and I believe in a world where this truth can thrive.

My daughter is not yet two, so she's still too young to understand, but I tell her every day that the only things that matter in life are what's in her head and what's in her heart.

Posted by: mcgarry.jw | January 30, 2008 11:10 AM

I think it's interesting to debate ageism and looksism as an "eye candy" issue -- do we want to be attractive or be a rebel, etc. but it's a different issue entirely when ageism causes you to lose a job or not get a job. that is unfair, and fortunately illegal. (although hard to prove in court - go joan williams!)

Posted by: leslie4 | January 30, 2008 11:11 AM

tsouderos, I just want to say to you "WAH, PUDDIN'!"

:P

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 30, 2008 11:11 AM

Wow - much different reaction to what I wrote than what I expected. A little background - I have a very high level position (which I love). I really don't think people are looking for "cute" in my position. I DO think they are looking for attractive. I speak in front of large groups, strangers and others. So while in my personal life I really don't care what people think about my appearance (and I generally avoid makeup, and dress pretty casually), at work there is a certain standard that I need to uphold. And it is more than hygiene. It IS appearance. If I start looking like I have less energy because my face is drooping, people will start thinking I'm less capable. I don't like it, but I do accept it, and I really think it is ridiculous to suggest that I "hang out with different people" if this is what I'm experiencing.

Do I think I have been discriminated against because of my age or appearance? No. Do I think it is possible in the future? Yes, but I don't want to take that chance.

All I can guess is that most people on this board are attractive and can't really imagine the affect on someone that's not; or they aren't in a position where appearance is important. I find it very surprising that hardly anyone else has experienced what I have. (Maybe they were scared off by the lectures about how if I were happy with myself I wouldn't worry about my appearance, which I was pretty offended by, by the way, as I'm only trying to be honest here. And, for the record, I AM pretty happy with myself, just wanted to look a little better and a little less tired. Oh well.)

Posted by: jjtwo | January 30, 2008 11:25 AM

*clap* *clap* *clap*

Standing ovation for pinkoleander, Laura, WorkingMomX and newslinks, as well as those who advocate the importance of achieving natural beauty by caring for one's health through diet, exercise, clean living, staying mentally engaged and alert in life, etc.

To those still contemplating getting botox, I ask you to reconsider and remember that it's a toxin, people -- a frickin' deadly POISON that you're having injected into your head, just inches from your brain. Yikes, what other toxins do people willingly put into their systems, hmmm? And do we even know the cumulative effects of having this done for decades? We sure as heck don't eat toxins intentionally, because we know they'll make us ill.

BTW, that botox TV commercial urging women to "express" themselves by using their product is a perfect example of Orwellian "newspeak," since it results in semifrozen-looking UN-expressive faces!

Re plastic surgery, I agree that it's a wonderful thing for birth defects (e.g., cleft palate), breast cancer and burn survivors, etc.

But for the sort of vanity Leslie's talking about, it just "enables" ageism by playing into the prejudice. We CAN change the mindset in the workplace and elsewhere if we present ourselves as role models -- because unless we die young we're all gonna get older -- and if we succumb to botox, cosmetic surgery, etc., then the older we get the more work it'll become to fight off signs of aging (using time and money I'd rather spend on almost anything else). Not to mention the health risks (See: Donda West, James Brown's ex-wife, others).

P.S. I think gray hair should henceforth be rebranded as "silver" -- sounds so much more glamorous, a precious metal like gold and platinum!

Posted by: mehitabel | January 30, 2008 11:25 AM

And to the inimitable Laura, a standing ovation for this superb observation:

"...point is that if you want people to accept you for you, you have to dare to be you. Side benefit is that being yourself will lead the bad places and people to automatically disqualify themselves from further consideration."

Posted by: mehitabel | January 30, 2008 11:30 AM

I work in healthcare, and every vendor I see trying to sell me drugs and equipment is young, cute, and in shape. The women are always gorgeous, and they always show legs and cleavage (within reason). The men are buff and flirty. The clinical experts they bring in may be alittle older, but they are never overweight, and always appear to have been to charm school. Several years ago I worked in a major hospital in the South, where the Surgical Nursing division head, a genuine leader whose division outperformed every other, was ousted by a blond, drawling, Mary Kay-wearing woman in a Chanel suit. The Surgical Nursing head was beautifully dressed, but had extremely short hair and didn't wear makeup. The blond ran another division which was always in the red. They were the same age. Its always about looks, ALWAYS.

Posted by: babsy1 | January 30, 2008 11:31 AM

Mehitabel -- you are right that the "vanity" i propose does play into our culture's ageism. but when it comes to financial independence vs. living in poverty in old age, i say "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." part of the way to beat 'em is by infiltrating the system, which in our lovely capitalist country, generally involves having a job, like it or not, and the more succesful you are in work the more power you wield. shouldn't be this way but 'tis.

And JJTwo -- you make an important, subtle point that apparently got lost in the fray. being ATTRACTIVE (kind of medium level) does definitely helps your career for men and women. you just can't be too attractive, particularly on the sexy front. So strange -- you've got to tone down your looks so that's not the first thing anyone notices, and yet stay attractive enough so that those men in corporate American want you around. good grief, no wonder we are all so tired!

Posted by: leslie4 | January 30, 2008 11:32 AM

Leslie wrote: "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Nope, that's capitulation, simply prostituting oneself. You can't just tell someone (me) they're right -- then contradict yourself and hope no one will notice. If you don't draw a line in the sand, then you're one of THEM.

Posted by: mehitabel | January 30, 2008 11:37 AM

leslie4 - thanks, I think that was the point I was trying to make. It would be great if the world was different, or if we could all pick the perfect job where we worked with generous, compassionate people; or we were hired and promoted based on our skills and personality alone. But this world is not like that. And I hope people realize it is not vanity, or self-esteem or anything else that drives my decision to make changes in my appearance. I am just looking out for my own future.

Posted by: jjtwo | January 30, 2008 11:37 AM

Sure Leslie4, if you pose it that way "Would you rather be young-looking and successful or old-looking and poor," we'd all run out and carve up our faces. But I think that's a false choice.

Of course, it depends on your industry. Suddenly I am tremendously grateful that I don't work in television, pharmaceutical sales, or any other industry that would 'ding' me for not looking like Barbie.

Posted by: mcgarry.jw | January 30, 2008 11:38 AM

Leslie,

The quotation of Ms. Krupp's book that you chose introduced the "eye candy" aspect of the discussion:

"in male corporate America we would rather have a cute, sexy 30-year-old working for us than a 50-year-old with gray hair who has let herself go and looks like a nun."

I realize that attractiveness does affect work success. I think what is important is to have an reasonably accurate idea of what lengths are necessary to remain in the game. My opinion is that if a person's appearance is aging at a pretty normal rate, then feeling forced to have cosmetic procedures is going too far. It's all a matter of degree. Freshening up one's hair color is one thing--going under the knife or injecting chemicals something altogether different.

I may choose to color my hair, but I've seen plenty of women with great looking gray hair. To me a great haircut means a lot more than color. I don't think it means that someone is neglecting her appearance because she decides to let her hair go gray. Maybe using chemicals on her hair crosses a line for her.

We don't all have to look like the broadcast "journalists" of the moment (man or woman) to look up-to-date and attractive. From today's comments, I sense that plenty of people think more like me than think like Ms. Krupp.

I think the overemphasis on cosmetic surgery that we see in the media doesn't reflect the reality of most hiring managers. The ageism has more to do with other factors that affect hiring--perception of energy level, demonstration that an interviewee has not stagnated in the same position for years without growth of skills, currency of skills, ability to hit the ground running after an absence from the workforce, etc.

Curious on the botoxing of the resume itself though. . .I've seen suggestions that people use skills-based resumes as a way to hide age. I imagine that any employer that cares about age is on to that already. Does anyone have any other strategies for resumes that minimize any perceived disadvantage of age?

Posted by: marian3 | January 30, 2008 11:39 AM

"Live fast, die young, leave a beautiful corpse."

James Dean

Posted by: anonthistime | January 30, 2008 11:43 AM

OK, babs1206 , Leslie and jjtwo: So HOW do you think your work-worlds got this way? And how do you propose they be changed? I suspect some of you are ashamed to admit you secretly like the present system, at least for as long as you're able to win at it -- although soon enough it'll turn around to bite you on the @$$.

Really, if you're not part of the solution then you're part of the problem -- especially if you let yourself get suckered into having poison injected into your body and undergoing major surgery in order to play the "game." And, yes, you SHOULD reconsider the field in which you're working if that's the price you feel you're expected to pay, because it's no better than athletes using steroids and other ultimately dangerous banned performance enhancers.

Posted by: mehitabel | January 30, 2008 11:45 AM

Thank you for the comment about cut mattering more than color, marian. I'm 28 with more than a typical splash of gray - and trust me, it is pointed out to me regularly. I am lucky to be in a field that is almost anti-good looks or I may have started coloring my hair long ago.

Posted by: MaryL | January 30, 2008 11:53 AM

jjtwo said,

"In my case it is not cute little crows feet at the corner of my eyes, instead it is deep, vertical furrows between my eyes, and a general droopiness to my face. Both of these conditions run in my family and both make me look old, tired and actually pretty grumpy."

This comment suggested to me that she had reasons other than trying to be "cute" for her decision to have surgery. It was clear to me that she decided to have procedures not because of vanity or lack of self-esteem. That's why I said that I don't think that there's anything inherently wrong with procedures.

I don't think we should equate medical procedures to wearing makeup though, which is how Leslie's original post struck me. There are indeed risks to cosmetic procedures, and they are costly. I expect jjtwo is pretty capable of doing a cost and risk vs. benefit analysis.

Posted by: marian3 | January 30, 2008 12:06 PM

MaryL, what sort of rude person would point out your hair color to you, and why? A Carolyn Hax "Wow" reply may be in order for them!

Posted by: mehitabel | January 30, 2008 12:06 PM

But perhaps all this 'stuff' we can do (coloring hair, makeup, botox, surgery, whitening teeth) just helps to CREATE the ageism.

Like the fallacious age of 65 as the 'end' of a career.

Just like irons created people's NEED to not have wrinkles, washing machines in the home created the NEED to have completely clean clothes all the time, vaccuums created the need to have no spot on the floor ever, etc. While most of this is reaching a little, I hope my point is made. If we buy into it, then we HAVE to do it. to 'keep up.'

Sometimes all these gadgets don't really live up to what they're supposed to. They just create more 'work.'

Posted by: atlmom1234 | January 30, 2008 12:14 PM

Atlmom, I agree that this type of looks-ageism has been created, because there's a lot of profit to be made from it.

Posted by: mehitabel | January 30, 2008 12:26 PM

Leslie, while you were perusing the NY Times, did you also catch the recent article "Group Seeks New Warning About Botox"? Even one death from botox is one too many.

Posted by: mehitabel | January 30, 2008 12:29 PM

I just wanted to say how much I like reading all the posts. It is great to hear from other women about aging and workplace issues - it makes me feel less alone and I really like a lot of the suggestions.


Posted by: pkm123 | January 30, 2008 12:47 PM

mehitabel,

I agree that one of the scary things about normalizing cosmetic surgery is that the risks become minimized in the minds of the public.

There is a lot of money to be made, and I would expect to find more unscrupulous doctors practicing plastic surgery than practicing, say, internal medicine. Also, I believe in some states that "beauty consultants" are allowed to administer Botox (don't have time to double-check that at the moment). I could be wrong, or that may have changed.

Because these procedures are expensive, people may be to willing to shop for services by price and may not scrutinize the providers as they should.

I'm not saying that no one should ever have a cosmetic procedure. I hope people remember that the industry doesn't appear to be that highly regulated though. Caveat emptor!

Posted by: marian3 | January 30, 2008 12:51 PM

I'd like to throw out a question to the group on this subject. Leaving out the question of botox, how far would you go to "improve" your appearance? Would you have a facial, a "deep sea crystal" kind of facial (a little stronger than a regular facial), microdermabrasion, dermabrasion or laser skin resurfacing? Where do you draw the line here? What is maintaining your skin, what is restoring your skin, what is improving your skin and what is "interfering with mother nature"?

I'd be really curious to hear what you all think...

Posted by: jjtwo | January 30, 2008 12:54 PM

Freezing your eggs, which was grouped with the comestic procedures in the original post, would qualify as "interfering with mother nature."

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 30, 2008 1:08 PM

I also thought the discussion would be about tweaking the resume to at least screen age long enough to get an interview. I did that myself, leaving off experience before fifteen years ago, but leaving my college graduation date on - I was a "returning student" and graduated in my forties!

Like others have stated, age brings, one hopes, some wisdom and confidence. But when the Washington Post front page features an article about the experienced, college-educated who are joining the ranks of the chronically unemployed, those assets aren't going to pay the rent.

At 57 I found myself looking for work. I suspect I never even got in the door to establish my looks or style in some cases because employers were certain I'd be too decrepit to do the job. In other instances, very young interviewers were clearly uncomfortable with someone thirty years senior.

Luckily for me, I found a terrific position, though it requires working on the other side of the country, with people who don't think age is an obstacle to success. I have friends twenty years younger than I am, though, who are running into the same problems I had and are fiddling with their resumes at forty.

As with so much in life, we struggle to do what we can to change the reality, but ultimately we have to live it.

Posted by: lcsumner | January 30, 2008 1:08 PM

Oh, jjtwo, you've really drunk the skin-care biz Kool-Aid!

I wash my face with Ivory soap, moisturize with generic hand-cream, never use liquid foundation makeup or powder etc., and have even spent prodigious amounts of time in the sun most of my life without any sun-block. And yet (or perhaps precisely because of all this) even people my own age STILL regularly mistake me for at least five years younger, while those considerably older or younger typically mistake me for at least ten years younger -- and that's even with my, ahem, partially silver hair. OK, so maybe I just got lucky in the genetic lottery, or maybe it's that doing lots of stuff to one's complexion is what really ages it.

Posted by: mehitabel | January 30, 2008 1:12 PM

lcsumner wrote: "Luckily for me, I found a terrific position, though it requires working on the other side of the country, with people who don't think age is an obstacle to success."

Bravo, though I'd say "luckily for THEM" to get a terrific employee like you!

Posted by: mehitabel | January 30, 2008 1:15 PM

"But perhaps all this 'stuff' we can do (coloring hair, makeup, botox, surgery, whitening teeth) just helps to CREATE the ageism"
Altmom has pinned the tail on the donkey here.
I guess I just think that plastic surgery belittles all of us, bottomline. It irritates me the same way that people who don't pay their taxes do.
So I would never do it, even if my job depended on it. I would hire a lawyer however if I even expected that ageism would have some negative impact on my career, if just advice for the advice on how to deal with the problem before it occured. When compared to plastic surgeons even the lawyer come off looking like heroes in my mind, strange, strange stuff.

Posted by: pinkoleander | January 30, 2008 1:16 PM

I'm ugly. And very capable. I've been ugly for a long, long time. Between a metabolic disorder and my family's droopy neck - well, there are a lot of things I would change if I had the money. But it will probably never be a priority, because there is so much else that matters more to me than being pretty. It's not who I am. I suppose that you would all see me in the grocery store and shudder. Heck, I think perhaps some of you have. And don't think for a minute that I haven't been hearing about my wonderful personality for so many years that this is just about a bad self-image.

I do worry about my daughter being embarrassed of me soon. But again, what would I be telling her if I let my appearance stop me from otherwise using my talents as best I can? I look like my family. Looking at family pictures, it is staggeringly obvious that no work has been done. Its' just ok.

Posted by: badmommy | January 30, 2008 1:35 PM

Posted by: jjtwo | January 30, 2008 10:02 AM

Ahh, jjtwo, I have a face made for radio. But I figure my body & mind are very functional indeed.

Glad your experience with the surgeon was positive and you're feeling better than ever.

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 30, 2008 1:41 PM

I find it amusing that mildly overweight people are willing to spend thousands of dollars for liposuction and tummy-tucks when they could just eat better and exercise and achieve almost the same result.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | January 30, 2008 10:12 AM

Oh, come on, we know why many people do that. It's so much faster than exercising and eating right.

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 30, 2008 1:43 PM

maryland_mother,
Of course we know why. All the plastic surgery shows on tv don't help as they make surgery look no more difficult/dangerous than getting your teeth cleaned.
You still have to watch your diet and exercise AFTER surgery to maintain what you just paid $10,000 for - haha. Unless you are willing to pay for it again.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | January 30, 2008 1:47 PM

"At 57 I found myself looking for work. I suspect I never even got in the door to establish my looks or style in some cases because employers were certain I'd be too decrepit to do the job. In other instances, very young interviewers were clearly uncomfortable with someone thirty years senior."

This is absolutely the experience of a lot of older workers, male and female, but especially female. If your CURRENT job is threatened because of your appearance, of course you have a leg to stand on. But if you are looking for work, either via layoffs or because your industry is volatile, it's a real issue.

I'm not a fan of cosmetic surgery and hope never to go there, but it is really easy to be 30 or even into one's 40s and say "I expect to be judged on my merits" and to be laid off or looking for work and be unable to get it.

Ronni Bennett, formerly a producer of the Barbara Walters special, had that experience and has written some about it at her blog at http://www.timegoesby.net/weblog/2004/09/job_hunting_ain.html - read down to the end. Her experience isn't the only one for sure.

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | January 30, 2008 1:48 PM

Oh, come on, we know why many people do that. It's so much faster than exercising and eating right.

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 30, 2008 01:43 PM

is this an impostor? The maryland mother I know isn't typically one to look down her nose at others as taking the easy way out because they might make different choices than the ones she prefers.

Just as with divorce, outsiders rarely know the medical and genetic history with which strangers on the street deal. Maybe, having analyzed risks and benefits and with the advice of a doctor, a personal trainer and maybe just using their own grey matter, some determine that liposuction is the best approach to a flat tummy not otherwise achieved by exercising and eating right. Or maybe you're right, but why assume a certain lack of work ethic and values about strangers?

Posted by: mn.188 | January 30, 2008 1:50 PM

Just like irons created people's NEED to not have wrinkles, washing machines in the home created the NEED to have completely clean clothes all the time, vaccuums created the need to have no spot on the floor ever, etc. While most of this is reaching a little, I hope my point is made. If we buy into it, then we HAVE to do it. to 'keep up.'

Sometimes all these gadgets don't really live up to what they're supposed to. They just create more 'work.'

Posted by: atlmom1234 | January 30, 2008 12:14 PM

atlmom1234,

If you can find it, there's a GREAT little book entitled "More Work for Mother" that discusses this issue. Really interesting stuff. If you do find it, let me know what you think about it.

Maryland Mother

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 30, 2008 1:52 PM

I'll weigh in with those who don't think aging stinks at all. But that's probably because I've never been able to count on my looks to get me anywhere. I love the confidence I have now in my mid-40s and the self-knowledge that enables me to navigate (or avoid) certain kinds of situations. I've given up on trying to "fix" myself via self-help books, therapy etc. So I'm not inclined to start trying to "fix" my body or face even if it does show a few wrinkles.
I love being past the age where I'm trying to be attractive to every man who walks by. I need to look professional for my job and I've long resented the way "beauty" gives other women an advantage in the job market -- but I figure it all balances out. Beauty and youth can be disadvantages in some settings too.

Posted by: anne.saunders | January 30, 2008 2:01 PM

OK, I have to add one more comment then I'll be done here - on the subject of tummy tucks, after having multiple children (and starting to suffer the effects of gravity as I near 50), I would LOVE to have a tummy tuck. And I'm not fat. But I really don't have the money, and I really don't think I could let someone cut me open. (And yes, in this case it is pure vanity driving me. Even though that area is always covered by clothes, I still cringe if I look at my tummy bulge and associated sags in bright light...).

Posted by: jjtwo | January 30, 2008 2:01 PM

jjtwo,
I suggest you go visit a flea market somewhere out in the country - rural PA has tons of them. Compare yourself to the happy, ordinary folks you see there enjoying sausage with onions and peppers. Stop reading magazines that recycle pictures of the same 20 most-beautiful people in the world. Go look at the REAL people on this planet and I don't doubt you'll realize you are a knock-out.

Posted by: anne.saunders | January 30, 2008 2:12 PM

"...point is that if you want people to accept you for you, you have to dare to be you. Side benefit is that being yourself will lead the bad places and people to automatically disqualify themselves from further consideration."

Laura, I agree with you, but how is "improving" your appearance, whether via hair color, teeth whiteners, makeup, botox, or plastic surgery making you "less" you? I know some who would suggest these measure made them feel MORE like themselves.

I wear makeup and color my hair. I'm considering whitening my teeth. Right now, I don't think I'll ever want to use botox or consider plastic surgery, but my opinion on that may change in 10 years when I'm in my 50s instead of my 40s.

This comes down to personal choice. If a woman improves her self-esteem by getting a nose job or a mole removed or a face lift, or a major cosmetic procedure, I think that's none of my business and I'm not going to judge. I am more interested in my friends' hearts than their personal cosmetic choices, and if engaging in some kind of "artificial" cosmetic enhancement will make them happy and confident, then more power to them.

For a bunch of people who are griping about being judged for your appearance, you certainly are judging a whole other group of people based on THEIR appearance.

Do what makes the most sense for yourself and your lifestyle and your checkbook. Anyone who turns their nose up at you for injecting botox or coloring your hair or even choosing major plastic surgery wasn't worth your time anyway.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | January 30, 2008 2:19 PM

I'm 50 and work in agriculture, so I often look like a "nun who has let herself go". As an employer, if someone comes into my orchard wearing penny loafers or high heel boots (which has happened, believe it or not), I am not apt to hire them. However, I could care less how they wear their hair, etc. as long as it looks like they can do the job.
I guess if I were looking for a job, I would try to present myself appropriately for that job (ie., cut my hair and wear a suit for a corporate job, etc). After all, it's only hair and clothing, which can be changed. But it makes sense to draw the line at surgery--that would be crossing the line. Once I had the job, if a boss started suggesting changing my body to keep my job, I would start looking for another job! A lot has to do with how comfortable you are in your own skin; or maybe how much you want to work a certain type of job.

Posted by: hoodriverwines | January 30, 2008 2:22 PM

I've hung around too many hospitals I suppose. A medically necessary tummy tuck is possible, I suppose, because then the health insurance will pay it. Anyone keep track of that sort of thing?

Otherwise, it's surgery, a risky thing to do. We're not talking about fixing faces that are ravaged by mucocutaneous leishmaniasis, or facial reconstruction after traumatic damage. We're encouraging invasive medical procedures for normal aging processes.

I dunno. How many people here would look at their family and say, "Boy--are you ugly. Why in the world don't you do something about that?" or, "Sorry folks, you're too ugly to be seen with me."

I don't know, Julius Axelrod won that Nobel Prize based upon his work, not his looks. I don't remember any comments about his looks. He was an interesting person, that's for certain.

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 30, 2008 2:25 PM

I was second choice for a job when I was still under 30. I really suspect it had something to do with looks. The other candidate and I both had fresh degrees. The first choice was a beautiful blonde with a sophisticated European accent. I was quite slim at the time and newly in love. I think it was the most attractive I've ever been. My looks are pretty average--I have a nice smile, and I think it shows that I'm a people person. I look nice with a good haircut, makeup, and clothes. However, I've never been the prettiest in any setting.

I'm pretty sure that the other candidate's looks/image gave her the edge. There were two other young beautiful sophisticated Europeans in the department who had been hired by the same person.

Well, the woman who beat me to the job lasted less than a week. I found out later that she decided that she didn't want the job because the "karma wasn't right." She actually gave this as her reason for resigning. I think the reality was that the work itself didn't seem like it would be as glamorous as she thought it would be. I spent several years there and did well.

I was lucky that the other candidate turned out to be a flake. It did confirm for me that looks can affect success. I don't think my looks affected my success once I had the job though.

I really wouldn't want to take the risk to have cosmetic surgery. There certainly are procedures I could have that would improve my looks. It's never seemed worth the risk or pain to me though. jjtwo asked how far people would go. I have sensitive skin, so any level of deep facial or dermabrasion sounds like torture to me.

I can't say how I would feel about chin/neck stuff in the future if I thought that I was missing out on professional opportunities. There are some features in my family that do become more pronounced and unattractive after 50 or 60. I hope that a healthy lifestyle will reduce the effects of age for some of these flaws.

I think that because looks have been more of a neutral than an asset for me in the past, I am used to trying to gain advantage in other areas--education, experience, developing an image of obvious competency, etc. My present self hopes that my future self will be able to continue on the same tack.

Posted by: marian3 | January 30, 2008 2:28 PM

vegasmom89109, you're living in ground zero of the natural look, right?

Posted by: skeptic | January 30, 2008 2:28 PM

LOL skeptic!

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | January 30, 2008 2:31 PM

Do what makes the most sense for yourself and your lifestyle and your checkbook. Anyone who turns their nose up at you for injecting botox or coloring your hair or even choosing major plastic surgery wasn't worth your time anyway.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | January 30, 2008 02:19 PM

what she said.

Posted by: mn.188 | January 30, 2008 2:36 PM

maryland_mother

How many people here would look at their family and say, "Boy--are you ugly. Why in the world don't you do something about that?"

The mothers of Christina Onassis & Tori Spelling insisted that their daughters get plastic surgey when they were teens. Both girls resembled their incredibly homely fathers. It happens. A lot. The nose job list is very long.

Posted by: chittybangbang | January 30, 2008 2:39 PM

I love being my age, 58, but really think I would have to "adjust" (lie) on my resume to get a different job. Even if I looked 23, I most likely wouldn't get in the door for an interview.

I don't think that, even if someone older has had the ultimate in plastic surgery, cosmetic treatments, go to the gym relentlessly, etc., they look young.

People who have some dignity, character and refinement, no matter what they look like, are great. They are "young at heart."

I was thinking that maybe, after I lied to disguise my age on my resume, I could hire a 23-year-old pageant girl to go on the interview.

Posted by: foxtrot1 | January 30, 2008 2:42 PM

The mothers of Christina Onassis & Tori Spelling insisted that their daughters get plastic surgey when they were teens. Both girls resembled their incredibly homely fathers. It happens. A lot. The nose job list is very long.

Posted by: chittybangbang |

Insisted--really? I had no idea. That's awful.

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 30, 2008 2:54 PM

Actually, Vegasmom, I agree with you. I have no problem with people who buff and scrub and such because it helps their body image conform to the way they feel about themselves.

What bugs me is the feeling that some people seem to have that they HAVE to do this -- not because they want to, but because bosses, clients, our society, etc. expect them to. And especially the attitude in the book Leslie mentioned -- acting as though not looking 30 years old is the Worst Possible Thing A Woman Can Do, making money by playing off fears of sexism and ageism while pretending to be all sympathetic and "helpful." It's the "ageism is horrible" coupled with "let me do everything in my power to avoid looking old."

Yes, sometimes you have to go along to get along -- especially if you just need A Job to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. But if that ain't you, and if you wouldn't do that stuff without the social pressure, then don't do it -- and sure don't spend money on a book that tells you how horrible things will be if you don't. I'm not arguing that all women should make the same choices I do; I'm trying to advocate for women to be true to themselves whenever they can afford to, even when that may not be the "popular" or "expected" choice.

Personally, I love massages and facials and just recently discovered pedicures, but am too cheap to spring for them that often. I've considered one of those "deeper" facials for some blotchy redness that developed after I had kids, but between my inherent cheapness and sensitive skin, I probably won't do it. I don't have pierced ears, because the concept of poking holes in myself kinda freaks me out. I used to highlight my hair now and again, but early grey hair is kind of a family tradition, so I wear it proudly. If I won the lottery, I'd definitely have some minor cosmetic surgery to "fix" those two things that have bugged me since I was a child (heck, maybe I'd even have them pierce my ears when I was under!).

And yet, I'm friends with a lot of women who are on the other side of each of those issues (acutally, almost all of my friends do more stuff than I do). And it's cool -- heck, I'll happily accompany them to the spa now and then. :-) Because it's all stuff that makes them feel good about themselves, that helps them see in the mirror the person they see inside their head. And not one of them has done it because "in male corporate America we would rather have a cute, sexy 30-year-old working for us than a 50-year-old with gray hair who has let herself go and looks like a nun."

Posted by: laura33 | January 30, 2008 2:57 PM

Vague ramblings follow:

Does anyone else find it strange to see the phrase "botoxing your
resume"? When did botox become a verb? Why would anyone want to paralyze their resume? Isn't that counterproductive? Aren't most of us interested in not ingesting (or injecting) a neurotoxin?

There's got to be a better metaphor. Ooh, a neologism contest sounds like fun!

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 30, 2008 3:02 PM

"A face lift, some Botox injections, and liposuction are weapons of choice in an unfair fight against our culture, our country's employment practices and our biology, all of which clearly favor youth. Until ageism ceases to exist, why not fight back?"

Um, Leslie, you do realize that using those weapons are NOT fighting ageism; they're contributing to it. Think about it for a second.

If, in the workplace, you're the only one who did NOT get botox, liposuction, etc., and you actually look close to your age (i.e. normal), then, according to your ageism hypothesis, you will be discriminated against. In other words, you want to turn the botox/lipo person into the new baseline that everyone has to meet. You are inherently accepting the ageism through your actions while hypocritically complaining about it.

Posted by: rlalumiere | January 30, 2008 3:15 PM

To your comment earlier about a Haxian "Wow", Mehitabel -- At first I was offended, for sure. But I realized that "wearing it with pride" like Laura means giving a great big smile and saying "Yep! Gettin' older!" And it hasn't been ever pointed out in a an appalled way; everyone who has commented to me has used the same tone they would if they said, "I never noticed your eyes are blue."

I wonder how often people on this board get comments about how they look or if any outside pressure to alter their appearance is unstated.

Posted by: MaryL | January 30, 2008 3:15 PM

Hey Laura, I agree with you! I came down too hard on the pro-natural side and may have lost the point that it's really all about choice. And being informed about what those choices mean. And accepting the choices of others and not making superficial judgments along the lines of "Women who use botox are ridiculous," or "Women who have a boob job are vapid," or "Women who allow themselves to 'go grey' are letting themselves go and don't care about their appearance," or "Women who have weight-loss surgery are lazy - they should just diet and exercise and it will melt away like magic!" All are equally judgy.

I'll fall back on what I said before. Do what's best for you, your lifestyle, and your checkbook. I might add a caveat about understanding your motivation for the choice and owning it, but that's probably too much to ask, LOL.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | January 30, 2008 3:17 PM

But VegasMom, you're going to take all the fun out of harshing on other people's choices in order to make yourself feel better!

Posted by: LizaBean | January 30, 2008 4:04 PM

Hey, Viagra is against Mother Nature too, but I don't hear men complaining about it.

Agreed that gray hair can be divine. My mom went gray starting at 30. First a streak in her black hair. Now she is a total white head. And she is still really hot. Her aplomb made her even more attractive. It really is how you carry yourself; something no surgery fake or money can buy.

Posted by: leslie4 | January 30, 2008 4:09 PM

Her aplomb made her even more attractive.
Posted by: leslie4 | January 30, 2008 04:09 PM

Amen! Cultivate your aplomb folks -- a great quality at any age!

Posted by: anne.saunders | January 30, 2008 4:26 PM

Leslie, instead of talking the talk why don't you walk the walk and emulate your mother?

Posted by: skeptic | January 30, 2008 4:33 PM

Leslie has emulated her mother. She has aplomb and recognizes it in others. What would be proved by making herself LOOK exactly like her mother except that she's not grown up enough to determine for herself what look is "Leslie"? Respecting someone else's choices doesn't require becoming her identical twin.

Walking the walk requires thinking for oneself and not being guilted by the judgmental into making all the same choices they make.

Posted by: mn.188 | January 30, 2008 4:41 PM

mn.188, that would be the folks who judge women in the workplace by the youthfulness of their looks, right?

Posted by: skeptic | January 30, 2008 4:45 PM

I'll jump on that bandwagon, Anne and Leslie. There are many ways to be beautiful, and I think they all flow from a sense of internal grace and confidence. I enjoy seeing all sorts of expressions - whether it's a full head of white hair, body art, colored hair, makeup, none at all. Spice of life and all that.

Posted by: LizaBean | January 30, 2008 4:45 PM

skeptic,

I learned a long time ago that I can't change others. Those in the workplace who judge others will continue to judge them. Denying that they exist doesn't make them evaporate. At the end of the day, the only decision you, I, Leslie and others are left to make is how we intend to present ourselves either in light of, or despite, their presence. Make your choice. Hold your head high. Leave the judging to the bored and insecure.

Posted by: mn.188 | January 30, 2008 4:49 PM

My dear old mom has had a tetch of cosmetic surgery around her eyes and she looks natural and fabulous! i hope to look as great as she does when i'm in my 70s.

and by the way -- she has exercised every day of her life (she's a tennis fanatic). that helped more than anything, i'm sure.

rlaumiere -- agreed. see my earlier post. my attitude is if you can't beat em join em. sometimes the price for fighting the fight is too costly (losing your job, etc). and i think infiltrating the enemy camp (male corporate america) is key to winning the battle longterm. if you take yourself out of the battle it doesn't benefit anyone, most especially you. but your point is completely true.

Posted by: leslie4 | January 30, 2008 4:50 PM

Leslie, even a tetch of cosmetic surgery is unnatural (LOL!).

Posted by: skeptic | January 30, 2008 4:54 PM

"I think infiltrating the enemy camp (male corporate america) is key to winning the battle longterm. if you take yourself out of the battle it doesn't benefit anyone, most especially you. but your point is completely true"

Well Leslie, as long as you stick with your plan to make change from then I might agree to step down from my soapbox temporarily. I would still say that hiring a lawyer is more my style (and much less painful).

Posted by: pinkoleander | January 30, 2008 5:10 PM

Aplomb-wise, I suggest some Pilates. It's great for your posture and for your back.
Big boobs are not, especially when you're thin, so plastic surgery to reduce them was, for me, in the same level as the nose surgery I had to undergo in order to breathe properly (a childhood accident seemed to have smashed something on the inside). No way would I keep on carrying that weight (they took half a kilo off on both sides) for the sake of being natural...

Posted by: portuguese-mother | January 30, 2008 6:45 PM

"natural" is overrated!

Posted by: leslie4 | January 30, 2008 9:10 PM

Here's a tip from Los Angeles... It's not about looking younger, it's about not looking old. There's a difference. If you do too much botox or surgery you don't look younger, you simply look like you've had work done, which is much worse because when people look at you and see obvious cosmetic procedures they instinctively ADD 5-10 years to your face trying to figure out how much older you really are. Looking frozen or stretched is not the same as looking young.

Posted by: johnfilm | January 30, 2008 9:56 PM

John - Excellent final, subtle, perhaps slightly twisted point to close out the discussion. After all, the book's title IS "How Not to Look Old." Not "How to Look Young."

Thanks! Always good to hear the LA perspective.

Posted by: leslie4 | January 30, 2008 10:32 PM

Why does no one ask that the WaPo make an inquiry to determine if the EEOC will develop age discrimination teams to combat this EEO violation? They send in diverse racial "applicants" with identical backgrounds to test hiring practices, and other agencies do this with housing. Why not indict the Silicon Valley companies, the Wall Street companies, the Fortune 500 companies and even the startups that encourage this? A few HR folks and CEOs being slammed would cure a lot of this. Ladies, it happens to you every day. Stand up and FIGHT! I see it every day, disguised as "pay for performance-real meaning-we pay a lot less for newbies", "diversity-real meaning, a newbie that is an emigre or alien will work for less", and "company culture- meaning you must be young, politically correct, and fashionable." It's a crime!!!
Real diversity means a grey hair is as likely to be seen as an IPod. File EEO complaints. Report it.

Posted by: 7thDayNonConformist | January 31, 2008 10:16 AM

"But the flip side of this is the message it sends my daughter. Aren't we supposed to be teaching our daughters that looks don't matter, that everyone is the size they're meant to be and diets aren't healthy, that it's what's inside that counts?"

Looks do matter. Not everyone may be drop dead gorgeous, but what does it teach your children when you don't care enough about yourself to drop unhealthy pounds and actually do something with yourself every morning by putting on some make-up or doing your hair? Looks can say a lot about a person. And when I say looks I mean how well you put yourself together. It reflects your motivation level, your professionalism, and even your self-confidence. I am a woman and I would greatly take into account how a person presents themselves (both man and woman) when hiring them. If someone comes in looking like they rolled out of bed and didn't even look in the mirror, the chances of hiring them are slim. If you can't even care enough about yourself to take care of yourself visually, how is that going to reflect on your ability to take those extra steps in the workplace to really excel as a worker?
I am in sales and have been for a awhile. All of my present and former colleagues no matter what age have always taken care of themselves very well, cared about what they wear and and how they look. Look at their job, their pay if based off sales, and it is takes a lot of motivation and determination to succeed. Someone who can't even take care of themselves in their personal life will never exceed in that kind of job. That is why you rarely ever find a non put-together sales person.

What we should be teaching our kids is that it is not ok to make excuses about the way we look. If we are overweight and keep making the excuse "I don't have time to go to the gym" but have enough time for that dessert after dinner, that teaches our children that having self-determination is not important at all. And maintaining a low self-esteem is ok, because that just the way life is. The size we are meant to be is not overweight, diets aren't healthy, but healthy right is, and what's inside does count, but you can't feel good about yourself on the inside, if you always hate the way you look on the outside.

Posted by: jen_dudley | February 2, 2008 12:55 PM

Hello supporters of a mother's wisdom,

I started a new website that showcases a mother's wit and wisdom for the ages.

The address is: http://wisdomfrommother.blogspot.com

Please forward this website to organizations in your area of influence. Thank you for your support.

Posted by: MothersWisdom | February 15, 2008 7:32 PM

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