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Why do people make themselves look scary…

Have you ever seen a portrait of a Nobel woman during the Renaissance?  Have you ever wondered about the white face paint, the high foreheads and the lack of eyebrows?  It baffles me as to why someone would want to look like that and it’s beyond comprehension that it would be considered beautiful or desirable.  But yet it was the “look of the day” and to look any different in high society would indicate that you were not “on trend”.  The key to looking like the society people desired to be a part of lay in the use of “Venetian ceruse” the expensive, white face paint made of a mix of vinegar and lead that was only available to the wealthy classes.  As we know today, lead is poisonous.  The toxic white paste caused the destruction of the hair follicles of the eyebrows and hairline resulting in receding hairlines and absent eyebrows.  Ladies of “lower classes” who could not afford Venetian ceruse would use cheaper products that did not contain lead and they would not lose the hair on their face – but they would shave their eyebrows and hairlines in order to appear as the noble women did.  What was actually a “diseased” appearance became desirable because it was a display of wealth and status.  Only the rich could afford the product therefore only the rich looked this way.  Anyone desiring to look rich had to “fake” it in order to make it look like they were of means.

I’ve always maintained that the best plastic surgery is “never seen”.  I believe the mark of good surgery is that it restores something that’s aged or drooped in such a way that one still appears “natural”.  Not windswept, over plumped or disproportionate in any way. My husband and I recently travelled to the USA for a mid-winter break.  It was wonderful to be in the warm Northern hemisphere where we could shed our winter clothing and not have to wear facemasks anymore. What we saw on the streets of New York was quite jaw dropping.  The trend for the Brazillian butt lift taken to extremes leaving one wondering how the ladies ever sat down comfortably.  The other trend taken too far is over plumped lips and cheek bones leaving faces distorted and characturerish.  The look would be accompanied by very visibly branded handbags, sunglasses, heels and T-shirts.  The designer label already visible from 100 paces.  This got me thinking….Just as the Renaissance women were left disfigured by the desire to appear:  On trend, in the know/in the money/in the right social class; modern women are doing the exact same thing with surgery for the same reasons.

If cosmetic enhancement is only available to those who have the means to acquire it and having access to these treatments means you belong to an exclusive group, having subtle improvements would be pointless if no one in the general public could clearly see that you have “had something done”.  The over accentuated features that could never be mistaken for your natural, unaltered appearance have become a status symbol.  

The unfortunate side effect of people having extreme “enhancements” is that it gives aesthetic surgery “a bad name”.  People who desire to improve some aspect of their appearance fear going to a plastic surgeon because they don’t want to look like “Those People”.  Aesthetic improvements DO NOT need to be extreme for you to feel “seen” or to feel like you “belong”.  An ethical, experienced plastic surgeon should partner with you in your desire to be the best version of yourself that you want to be.  It’s important that the surgeon you consult be up-to-date on all the latest trends and improvements in surgical techniques and post-operative management.  But he or she should also be skilled in helping you discover the best way to enhance your appearance in a way that keeps you feeling confident and looking fresh and healthy.  A Surgeon should never be too hasty to give you a “cookie cutter” solution that will only satisfy you for as long as a certain look is in fashion.

Don’t chase transient trends, don’t seek aesthetic enhancement to gain the approval of anyone other than yourself and as always….seek balance in all things.







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1 Comment
  • Carolyn
    Posted at 15:25h, 20 September

    So interesting Sheldene – I never knew that about the Renaissance look. It’s a scary thought and yet history repeats itself!



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