One of my best friends just got her lips done. She’s an actor and had been going through a dry spell. Now that she looks like Angelina Jolie, she’s landing more parts than ever and is considering other procedures. She says that it’s for work — that she’s “over the hill.” My friend is 30. How can I talk her out of this?
You can try, but you may not succeed. Now that your friend has been rewarded for her first foray into the world of cosmetic enhancement, she might be hell-bent on rearranging her face. It paid off: The moment she changed her look, she was cast and cast again. What message does this send? Her native beauty was insufficient. There is no greater example of this than Hollywood, a.k.a. No Country for Old Women.
Of course, at the tender age of 30, your friend is far from being “over the hill,” and yet casting agents are unsure where to place her: Is she the girlfriend or the mother? Is she the undergrad or the prof? Women go from ingenue to character roles with, as your friend put it, a decade-long “dry spell” in between. Men, on the other hand, move seamlessly from matinee idol to silver-haired fox. Not quite the fairest sex, is it?
Your friend has fallen for an insidious cultural bias and she’s trying to convince herself it’s necessary for work. This is where you come in. Your friend is forgetting that, as an actor, it’s not her youth but her face that is her most essential tool — and she must protect it above all else.
Claudia Dey is a novelist, columnist and Governor General’s Award–nominated playwright. She is the author of How to Be a Bush Pilot: A Field Guide to Getting Luckier.
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