"Why Did She Do That To Herself?": Hollywood's Plastic Surgery Backlash


As Laura M. Holson of the New York Times found when discussing plastic surgery with several directors and casting directors in Los Angeles, obvious surgical enhancements, once considered fairly standard in the industry, are now considered career-killers.

“Ten years ago, actresses had the feeling that they had to get plastic surgery to get the part,” director Shawn Levy tells the Times. “Now I think it works against them. To walk into a casting session looking false hurts one’s chances.” Actresses, of course, are who the piece focuses on, though Hollywood has no shortage of men who also go under the knife for surgical enhancements, and, in the case of someone like Mickey Rourke, are even able to capitalize on the odd results of overdoing it by somehow working their now-unique looks into an Oscar-nominated comeback role, something that might not come as easy to an actress who has dramatically changed her appearance in a similar fashion.

Holson’s article is filled with quotes from frustrated casting directors and insiders who explain that they’ve turned away women with obvious plastic surgery as it distracts from the authenticity of the films; audiences who are now tuned in to high-definition television can easily spot bad surgery and botox, which is somewhat ironic, considering that high-definition itself, and all of the “flaws” it exposes, might actually have led several celebrities to botox their wrinkles away to begin with.

I don’t really believe that Hollywood is suddenly going to embrace so-called imperfections, nor do I think it is going to step away from its obsession with youth, which is as old as the industry itself, and I think it’s a bit disingenuous for an industry that has long celebrated the use of plastic surgery and botox and airbrushing and photoshop to suddenly act as if they’re horrified by the idea that aging actresses feel the pressure to somehow get rid of their wrinkles. Levy tells the Times that he’s had several behind-the scenes conversations that consist of questions like, “Why did she do that to herself? She was beautiful. She was great. But now we can’t cast her.” Why do you think she “did that do herself?” The industry isn’t necessarily a warm, welcoming place for older actresses. Suddenly acting as if it’s all rainbows and sunshine for anyone over 35 who isn’t Meryl Streep or a Dame is a bit much.

However, I suppose it is somewhat encouraging that directors are finally looking to cast older women who actually have—gasp—wrinkles, and the fact that they’re casting women who haven’t had work done is perhaps a message to younger actresses that you don’t need implants or a brow lift or lip injections in order to get work. But, more likely, the trend won’t lead to the end of Hollywood’s plastic surgery obsession at all; it will just lead to less-noticeable surgery. And the focus, I’m sure, will remain on Hollywood’s women; the men will be allowed to “age gracefully,” while actresses will be asked to remain “real” in an industry that does all it can to present them as anything but.

Hollywood To Actors: No Surgery, Please [NYTimes]

Related: Are Actresses Sacrificing Artistic Success In Order To Save Face?

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