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About-Face

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There are some patients of Wexler’s who think that she could not possibly look so young without having had some kind of surgery, some even speculating that it was the legendary but decidedly old-school Dr. Daniel Baker. But as my socialite friend says, “Pat is all about doing everything but … laser, inject, fill, suck out, but, God forbid, don’t cut.”

Wexler is a die-hard believer in the power of injectables. “If you are sunken-in and hollow under your eyes because you haven’t had an English muffin in three years, you are going to look bad. You need to have a certain amount of that juvenile plumpness to look young,” she says. But, recognizing that many women have gone too far with their fat lips and paralyzed brows, she preaches moderation. When I joke that Botox has created a market for a children’s book that ought to be titled Why Does Mommy Look Weird?, she laughs. “Babies learn facial expressions from their mothers, and if all these women are Botoxed, I wonder if we’re going to see a generation of very flat-affect toddlers. You really do need to have expression. I don’t believe in trying to freeze the face.” She points to herself as Exhibit A. “I have expression. I don’t have big blown-up lips. In fact, when I pucker, I have lip lines.” She purses her lips and invites me to lean in for a closer look. Indeed, I can see that she has faint lines radiating out around her mouth. “I should do more, but I don’t have time because I’m too busy fluffing and tucking everybody else. But the more I do other people, the more I embrace my own naturalness.” I stare at her for a second. Natural is not exactly the word that springs to mind. “I love my Botox!” she continues. “I’ve done Botox for eighteen years, but I don’t do Botox to excess. I do little bits of Botox because I don’t want deep hollows.” She blinks. The corners of her mouth twitch up ever so slightly. “I can smile,” she says.

Wexler also thinks the overinflated-lip craze is finally over. Angelina may have been blessed with the perfect kisser, but it’s virtually impossible to re-create it in a way that seems natural. “Not everyone is meant to have a lip,” says Wexler. “You can’t bring a picture of a lip to a doctor and say, ‘That’s the lip I want,’ and yet women do it all the time.” She credits the model Coco Rocha for helping the thinner-lipped among us to accept our biologically determined fates. “God bless Coco! Small lips are totally in vogue right now. It’s very acceptable. There are very famous models and actresses who are totally happy to keep their thin lips.”

When I ask Wexler—who has seen a lot of faces come and go—about the difference between the Old New Face and the New New Face, she answers immediately: Ivana Trump. “When she got a totally new face in the early nineties—a new jawline, a new eyebrow arch—that was a new face. She is now aging as a whole different person. The new version of the New Face is that it shouldn’t look new. It should look like you. It should look like the old you.” Wexler, who thinks in MST (Movie Star Time), says her clients want to look the way they did “four films ago”—or about eight years in RPT (Regular People Time).

It’s a pleasant notion, and fun to say: The New New Face is really Your Old Face! “Beauty is supposed to be genetically inherited,” says Wexler. “Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn? That was God-given. There’s no such thing as a surgically created beauty. That would be a cheat. We think of the Pamela Andersons and the Anna Nicoles, but again, they are trivialized, mocked. They’re fake beauties, not true beauties. When people think of the standard of real beauty today, they think of Angelina Jolie. And that is a very hard standard to meet.”

Somehow the idea of maintaining, preserving, and restoring feels less like cheating. The New New Face promises to reclaim something that was lost. But does it? Even the most successful and beautiful result is something entirely different from what a woman looked like when she was 30. Demi Moore, the gold standard of good plastic surgery, does not look at all like she did when she made Ghost. The New New Face is a fantastic approximation! An uncanny resemblance! It is, at its best, a close copy of youthful beauty, not youthful beauty itself.


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