Maggie A's Meanderings




 June 2, 2013

The Price of Being "The Fairest of Them All"

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?

It's a quote we're all familiar with as we're all familiar with the Evil Queen's actions when she found out that Snow White was now fairer and the Evil Queen was only the secondmost beautiful in the land.

As a child, I never understood what the Evil Queen then did in trying to have Snow White murdered. Secondmost beautiful sounded good to me. I wouldn't have minded being secondmost beautiful. The driving desperation of a beautiful queen losing her looks is not anything that a little girl can sympathize with.

Whenever I've come across the concept that being beautiful is a curse, my reaction is "Yeah, right," accompanied by an eye roll. It is probably the reaction of most of the non-beautiful when being told about the burden that being beautiful comes with. Now as one of the non-beautiful, I still don't think that beauty is a curse, but, as I've grown older, I can see where great beauty has a price. I see now that for beautiful women that their beauty is a crucial part, may even be the biggest part, of their identity...........that what they see in the mirror defines who they think they are.

And that price comes due when what they see in the mirror changes. When they no longer see a perfect 10, but see a 9 or an 8 staring back at them as that once amazing beauty begins to slip away.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?

As a child I couldn't understand the queen's desperation. As an adult, I see the results of that desperation. I see it in what beautiful women do, not to their rivals, but to themselves. I see the price of having been startlingly, breathtakingly beautiful and the desperate lengths it drives some of these women to try to keep that level of beauty.

There's Raquel Welch who denies that she's had any kind of cosmetic procedures (a claim I don't believe) but says it takes her three hours to get her "game face" on (a claim I do believe). Three hours of her life every day to put on makeup. On the days I actually put on makeup, I don't spend three minutes, more like 30 seconds. I can't imagine spending three hours every day to put on my face so I could go out in public. Yet, on this scale, I consider Raquel Welch to be a success. She still looks beautiful and reasonably natural. But three hours a day to put on makeup, plus however many additional hours a day she spends to maintain her looks is a high price to pay.

Then there's the next level. Women who've had too much work down. Actresses I had seen previously like Shannon Tweed and Roma Downey who I see again after a long gap and my reaction is "What did she do to herself?? She used to be so beautiful and now she just looks fake." I wonder what they think when they look in the mirror? Do they like what they see? Do they fool themselves into thinking they only look beautiful and not artificial? Looking at them is like looking at face of a doll..........certainly the doll's face is beautiful, but no one is going to mistake it for real. They took what had been a natural beauty and transformed it into wax. Still beautiful (still far more beautiful than me, I admit), but a kind of beauty that just makes people look not at them, but at the work and think they had too much of it.

Finally, there are the women so desperately trying to hold onto their beauty they ruin it and end up looking even worse than they would have if they had done nothing and had allowed themselves to age naturally. Women like Priscilla Presley and Joan van Ark whose quest to hold onto their beauty takes a horrifying turn as they end up being grotesquely deformed,
the travesty all the more tragic for what they once did look like.
Now don't think by this that I'm against all cosmetic procedures.

Ultimately, it's the choice of the person. Your body, your choice. But if it's being done to keep that beauty and what ends up happening is transforming that beauty into something fake-looking or worse, then I question its use. That's the point where I (and other people who look at these women) wonder if they wouldn't be better off trying to accept age gracefully rather than holding onto to something they can no longer have.

It's said of love, "It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." That applies as well to beauty. They had great beauty..........which is more than most of us can say. Maybe they could just try being thankful they had that rare gift. Besides, it is possible to be both beautiful and old. Watching the updated Dallas, with Linda Gray, no, she doesn't look 37 years old like she was when Dallas first aired, but she proves that over 70 can still be beautiful in its own way. 

Like the Evil Queen, there was a time when I would not have understood these women or their actions. But though I still don't understand the Evil Queen --- taking out a hit on your younger, more beautiful rival is carrying things too far ---- I can at least have some sympathy for these women. When all your life you've been defined by your beauty, when the course of your life and what you have in your life was based on your beauty, it must seem like an amputation when they look into that mirror on the wall and see themselves losing it. And so they try harder and harder to vainly cling onto what they once were instead of accepting who they are now. Like the Evil Queen, they can't accept that they were once the fairest of the land and now it's someone else's turn. So, like the Evil Queen, they do something desperate.

And, like with the Evil Queen, sometimes they don't get the results they were hoping for.

broken mirror with baroque frame

For more of me and beauty, read "Fashiomissta."
For more on the public's perception of actors, there's "
Double Identity -- Distinguishing Actors and Their Roles."
Or for Hollywood's perception, read "Hollywood Romance: Fiction Versus Fact," "Hollywood's Bizarre Take on Rape" or "Hollywood and Religion: How Many Churches Are Too Many?

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