Friday, April 4, 2008

The many faces—and other reworked body parts—of La La Land

Today I’d like to talk about plastic surgery.

This topic’s on my mind these days because I’m in full-tilt writing mode on the third book in the Fat City Mysteries. It has a brand new working title, MAKEOVERS CAN BE MURDER, and a plot that involves plastic surgery, murder, and mayhem.

Full disclosure: I know something about the subject area, because I’ve had a bit of “work” done along the plastic surgery lines; it’s a topic that simply fascinates me. Living in LaLa land, aka Los Angeles, I can’t turn a newspaper page or walk down a local street without bumping into reminders that my city is the capital of the Land of Plastic. Yesterday, I discovered that there’s a Botox room in my gym. In my gym! (Which is fine, actually. At least I won’t have to drive to Beverly Hills from now on to get rid of my crow’s feet.)

Many, many of my friends (and I) are familiar with some of the following procedures:

Wrinkle fillers, both artificial and natural (The natural one is fat injections. They extract your own fat from your stomach, or from wherever you can spare any, I guess. Then they inject it into your “marionette lines”. You know, that pair of annoying lines that run from your nose to your lips. And from your lips to your chin.).

Wrinkle removers (Botox. Man, that stuff works. But don’t get started on it unless you’re prepared to develop a mondo expensive habit).

Arm “lifts” to remedy underarms that keep waving when you stop (I haven’t had that one. Yet).

Breast implants (That procedure is done in droves here. Or should I say, in pairs).

Breast reductions (The grass is always greener on the other side).

Eye lifts (It’s probably the quickest way to take off five to ten years, especially when combined with Botox and wrinkle fillers).

The Tinseltown pressure to be "perfect" leads women around here to get a tad carried away. Especially when it comes to boob-and-lip plumping. Lipwise, I guess they're trying to look like Angelina Jolie, but they let their dermatologist go way overboard with the collagen needle, and they wind up with the lips of Clara the Clown. There's a special "lip look" that you get used to around LA, especially Malibu and Beverly Hills--these womens' lips seem to have been pumped up with a tire hose. And the lips always seem to come with a matching pair of hyperinflated breasts. Some docs must run a four-for-one special, like tire specials.

I also know a little about the ultimate plastic surgery procedure that’s available for those of us who have lost an extreme amount of weight. Called a “full body lift,” it involves cutting a circle around your body, roughly in the hip area. The surgeon pulls the loose skin from the upper part of your body down, and he pulls the loose skin from the bottom of your body up; then he removes everything between the two ends, and sews you back together. There are only a few surgeons who specialize in full body lifts, for understandable reasons. It’s beyond extreme. (Not that I haven’t considered it. But I’m way too chicken).

I’ll never become a full-blown plastic surgery junkie, because it takes way too long to save up for a procedure. But I kind of understand people who do. You get some work done on one part, which only serves to draw your attention to the other parts that are starting to sag and bag. Then you think, Well, just one more, then I’m done…

Of course, a major disincentive to cosmetic surgery is all the horror stories about surgery-gone-bad. And of course, any surgery has risks, which is why most people (the ones who don’t live around here, anyway) carefully consider the consequences before leaping under the knife.

There will be more than a few horror stories in MAKEOVERS CAN BE MURDER. But I’ll save those for the book…

What about you? How to you feel about plastic surgery? Anyone care to share? Can we let our hair down here?


Sheila Connolly said...

I come from the generation that insisted that natural was beautiful (yes, I'm a bit older than you are). Of course, that was back when our bodies were still firm and perky. That didn't last.

It took me years to convince myself that coloring my hair was not selling out, despite the fact that my grandmother, my mother, and my sister had all been doing it for years.

But I think the rest of me is past surgery. I want to be loved for my inner beauty, right?

Kathryn Lilley said...

Oh absolutely, Sheila! Inner beauty truly outshines anything man-created. I don't think I ever would have had anything "done," except that a good friend of mine who is in the "biz" went to see a top Hollywood doc, and I saw her results. (But then, that's how we all start sliding down that slippery slope). I'm just getting deep into the plasto-world at the moment, because of the book I'm working on. And having tons of fun at it, I might add! It's like being able to populate your mystery with Desperate Housewives, and then someone starts knocking them off!

Leann Sweeney said...

Having just had non-cosmetic surgery, non-elective at that, you couldn't get me near a surgeon with one of those vaulting poles they drag out for the summer Olympics. But if I lived in LA, I might have a very different perspective. And whatever must be done in the name of research (and can be written off!)seems fine by me. I am a little horrified, however, at what women are doing to their lips. Maybe when they look at themselves they are convinced someone came in during the night and replaced their mirror with one from a fun house. :-)

Kathryn Lilley said...

It's strange, Leann, but I think there's a subset of the LA culture that considers these puffy lips to be attractive. To me they look garish and completely fake (along with the boobs--the cleavage is always the "tell"--augmented boobs have a distinct curvature and loft not found in Mother Nature.

Camille Minichino said...

I'm glad I read this with the lights on! Your description of that full body lift had me holding my breath! Can't wait to read the novel version Kathryn!

I'm afraid I'll have to count on ONLY inner beauty ... I can't imagine choosing to be cut unless is a life-saving measure.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Yes, Camille, I don't know which will be more gruesome--the description of the murder(s), or the procedures!

Linda O. Johnston said...

I'll definitely look forward to reading MAKEOVERS CAN BE MURDER, Kathryn, but I don't identify with the whole plastic surgery thing. I notice too many stars who've had too much of it and appear as if they have only one expression, and even that is wholly unnatural.