They chow down the same foods we healthy middle-aged women eat: Quinoa, lean proteins, fresh organic produce, water from chic reusable Sigg bottles. They drive hybrids and raise funds for good causes, shun the direct sun, and sometimes even wear secondhand fashion (couture, of course).
But tinsel town celebrities my age, like Demi Moore, who is featured on the cover of W Magazine this month, are not like me or any of my healthy, naturally beautiful women friends. No, unlike the mere mortal soccer moms I rub shoulders with at book club gatherings and parties, Demi shows no signs of age or wear and tear. Where is the emerging turkey neck Nora Ephron wrote about? Where are the sagging eyes? Where are the cottage cheese thighs?
“Her body of work has been notable in no small part because of her notable body,” writes Moore cover story author, Kevin West, adding that, “hers is an undeniably striking version of midlife.” He assures us the striking former brat packer has changed at 47, evidenced by tiny lines when she smiles, but she has not gone under the knife.
“It’s their job to look amazing,” observes my astute 13-year-old daughter, Sydney. She tells me if it were her full time job, she would be flawless, too. Methinks my teenager looks pretty flawless now, but she would be happier with perfect hair and no blemishes, stuff that completes you when you are 13.
It comes down to the perception of perfection, and in achieving it, stars are spoonfed support from trainers and personal chefs. Most turn to plastic surgery, even prematurely, like America’s sweetheart Meg Ryan and highly respected eco goddess Daryl Hannah. In both cases, the surgery changed the lovely features we knew, while their bodies maintain the taut physiques of teens. In all cases, the goal is achieved. Defy age. Look young.
One looming exception is Meryl, but even the consummate thespian had to shape up to play a mature hippie in Mama Mia and Alec Baldwin’s ex and Steve Martin’s lover in It’s Complicated.
Still, Streep, now in her 60’s, is probably aging more naturally than any other major star. She doesn’t succumb to surgery and I haven’t noticed her photographs being altered through Photoshop, the favorite weapon in the arsenal of Hollywood anti-aging defenses. Streep doesn’t maintain a public persona outside of her appearances, stays out of the sun and avoids alcohol. Those are pretty good defenses, too. Bon Apetit, Meryl!
While I’m certain Demi stays gaunt for her industry, the W cover shot is not the body of a 47-year-old mother unaltered. My 47-year-old friends look amazing, but none of them have bodies like that. It’s the body of her daughter Rumer, perhaps.
The cover was as surprising as the Self Magazine issue featuring American Idol Kelly Clarkson, who didn’t actually slim down the way the magazine suggests on the cover, but erased those pounds thorough digital post-production. And how ’bout that ad featuring Ralph Lauren model Filippa Hamilton, who was deemed too fat at 5’10” and 120 pounds and had to be drastically Shopped to cut the mustard?
While the option of doing digital makeovers is the choice of each publication, the star still pays a price in terms of credibility.
I feel compassion when I realize society demands its idols be, well, objects to idolize. Air brushing and retouching are just a few of the finishing tools employed in the land of make believe, the land the media fully endorse because we fully buy into it. But at the end of the day, it just makes us feel sad. We can’t possibly live up to these images of perfection, and frankly, neither can the stars.
The alternative: finding a way to accept ourselves as natural beauties who do the best we can to stay healthy and fit and happy and productive – and admire how we are able to thrive in a world with so much adversity, sickness, hunger and negativity.
The Demoiselles website did a recent feature profiling celebs moving in the direction of self-acceptance, even unlikely candidates such as Kim Karshashian, who posed for the cover of Life & Style Weekly completely unretouched.
When asked by the magazine why she is so open about her body (i.e. showing herself receiving a cellulite treatment on her reality show), Kardashian said she was tired of people pretending they’re perfect and covering up things when in reality we are who we are.
“You can try to improve that, but the reality is, nobody’s perfect.” she declared.
But maybe we are perfect, Kim. Maybe we are perfectly flawed.
This is the latest installment in Luanne’s column, Life in the Green Lane.
Images: W Magazine, Plastic Sergeant, Sony pictures, ABC News, Life & Style Magazine, Luanne Bradley