Meg Ryan, Plastic Surgery, and Social Media

June 16, 2016

Meg Ryan’s recent public appearance at the Tony Awards and the subsequent social media backlash in relation to her apparently altered features highlights the modern phenomenon of “plastic surgery shaming” in a very unambiguous and some would argue callous manner. Meg was lambasted by a Twitter storm of nasty insults and brutal put downs including, “Dear God…What happened to Meg Ryan?” and “I’m old enough to remember when Meg Ryan looked like Meg Ryan.” In one particularly cruel Tweet Hayes Permar featured a photo of Jack Nicholson as the hideous Joker with the sentiment, “Meg Ryan looked good at the Tony Awards.” Recently, Renee Zellweger and Uma Thurman have received similar criticism and contempt.

The world can be a cruel and unusual place, and anyone getting into the acting field should understand the depth of criticism one might face. Meg Ryan was and is a beloved figure in the world of film and particularly romantic comedy, but she was not spared the wrath of haters when they felt she was vulnerable. For women, and increasingly for men, plastic surgery is a bona fide issue to contend with; a true dilemma. To cut or not to cut? That is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of natural aging or take up arms against a sea of declining years?

It’s a difficult situation because Hollywood relies heavily on looks; certainly looks had something to do with Meg Ryan’s coronation as America’s sweetheart. But, as we’ve seen, cheating Father Time and Mother Nature through artificial means can be a tricky thing. Sometimes it works, and other times, not so much.

Ryan says she loves her age and her life these days, insisting, “There are more important conversations than how women look and how they are aging…” and “I don’t pay a lot of attention frankly. There’s a lot of hatred in the world today, it’s so easy to judge. Imagine being a hater, how stupid!”

You, as a committed actor and a stalwart thespian, as unpleasant as it may seem, have to deal with this aspect of the business. Or do you? Certainly, getting your look freshened up with a little work as you age might help out, but then again, with the no-makeup trend over the past couple of years, emphasizing natural beauty seems to be on a lot of people’s minds. Moreover, it might be helpful to remember that a fine actor, a skilled craftsman, a talented professional remains valuable over time, and greatly improves the chances of working in this business for many years. Also remember that your look is singular and unique by its very nature; and your natural energy and talent show all over your amazing face.

And don’t count out Meg Ryan, because if you look closely at her effervescent smile, you’ll likely see an open heart and a beautiful spirit. And that never gets old!

Actors Who Suffer from Body Dysmorphia

April 22, 2016

How is it possible that famous beauties such as Hayden Panettiere, Sarah Michelle-Gellar, Uma Thurman, Shakira, and Jessica Simpson struggle profoundly with their self-image? The culprit is body dysmorphic disorder, a psychological malady that distorts a person’s body image. A suffering individual will obsess for several hours a day over a perceived flaw, and may resort to cosmetic procedures in attempts to appear “normal.” Sadly, those who undergo such procedures often feel no satisfaction with the results. Panettiere shared how seeing a paparazzi photo of her cellulite mortified her, and gave her “such body dysmorphia for so long.” And Michelle-Geller once told Health magazine, “I totally have body dysmorphic disorder. I think most women do.”

Indeed, a lot of people assume it’s only women and girls who become preoccupied with what’s “wrong” with their bodies. But, on the contrary, men suffer from it nearly as frequently. Robert Pattinson has described his own battles with negative gnawing thoughts about his perceived flaws especially before auditions and red carpet events. “Up until that moment I’m a nut case. Body dysmorphia–overall tremendous anxiety,” he once admitted experiencing.

Simiarly, Modern Family‘s Reid Ewing battled body dysmorphia as well as an addiction to plastic surgery. In a deeply painful and honest blog to the Huffington Post last November, he revealed:

“In my case, my looks were the only thing that mattered to me. I had just moved to LA to become an actor and had very few, if any, friends. I’d sit alone in my apartment and take pictures of myself from every angle, analyzing every feature. After a few years of doing this, one day I decided I had to get cosmetic surgery. ‘No one is allowed to be this ugly,’ I thought. ‘It’s unacceptable.'”

Ewing’s long list of surgical procedures started at the age of 19; he details the tremendous post-surgery swelling and pain he experienced accompanied by his impossible attempts to hide in shame. Sadly, time and time again the results proved to be problematic at best.

“Each procedure would cause a new problem that I would have to fix with another procedure…. Much of this was going on during the same time period I was shooting ‘Modern Family.’ Most of the times I was on camera were when I’d had the numerous implants removed and was experimenting with less-noticeable changes to my face, like injectable fillers and fat transfers. none of them last very long or are worth the money.”

Finally, Ewing came across a doctor who gave the advice, “Before seeking to change your face, you should question whether it is your mind that needs fixing.” This message was at complete odds with what all his previous doctors had been promoting, and it inspired Ewing to look deeper into his history of depression and come to terms with his dysmorphic disorder. He now wishes he could go back and advise his younger self to accept and appreciate himself. Regarding the surgeries and procedures he says, “It’s just not necessary. It’s not going to make your life happier or better. In fact, it did the exact opposite.”

As for Hayden Panettiere, she now reminds herself that “beauty is an opinion, not a fact,” and this always makes her feel better. “People can tell when you’re happy with being you and when you’re not. As I’ve gotten older and grown into my body, I’ve started realizing that the way you carry yourself and that light coming out of your eyes are the most attractive things about you.”

A Fresh Face for Casting Calls?

December 3, 2012

The ever-youthful Goldie Hawn has been working in the entertainment industry for forty-five years and recently celebrated her 67th birthday! She started her career as the zany airhead on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as Walter Matthau’s suicidal fiancée in 1968’s Cactus Flower. Hawn is featured on the cover of this month’s Prevention Magazine as a star who defies the laws of age and aging. Indeed, she seems to defy the laws of gravity itself. In fact, many have commented that Goldie looks very similar today to the “It” girl  she was of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Goldie contends the key to her youthful appearance is her “spiritual well-being,” and credits meditation, yoga, Pilates as well as regular exercise with burnishing her youthful glow.

Ok, so who’s buying this? Think of your sixty-seven-year-old grandmother with her well-earned wrinkles and drooping neck line. Some plastic surgeons have speculated for years Goldie has had a face lift, fat grafting to her cheeks, and more than a little Botox to help her appear about 15 years younger than her actual age. She’s certainly not the only one in Hollywood to have to entertain such rumors; the list is too lengthy to even begin.

So you, young thespian, with your chiseled features and taut complexion, would you ever consider defying age with help from a syringe or scalpel? Well, if acting is something you want to be doing for a good while, this is an issue you’re going to have to face eventually. Whether you’re Sylvester Stallone, Jane Fonda, Arnold Schwarznegger, or Nicole Kidman, to have or not to have plastic surgery is an ever-present question, and a valid occupational concern. Everyone has the right to do with their own bodies as he or she wishes, but actors are well advised to have both a short-term and a long-term strategy when it comes to aging in Hollywood–because growing older, after all, is inevitable even for those with the most enviable genes. Cate Blanchett has expressed,“I’m not sitting on a soapbox telling women what they should and shouldn’t do, but I know what works for me…In the end, if you have all that stuff done…you just see the work. It doesn’t fill me with admiration, it fills me with pity.”  On the other hand, Mila Kunis has stated, “I will not put a needle in my body unless I have a medical reason, but ask me in 10 years. Right now, I’m like, ‘I’m going to embrace it,’ but … I’m probably going to want to have something done. I have no doubt.”

What are your thoughts? How important do you believe plastic surgery is for the longevity of an actor’s career?