When The Fine Line’s editor-in-chief Allison Hatfield first had her lips filled, her newly amplified pout caught others’ attention — but not in the way you’d think. “People would see me and ask if I lost weight,” she says with a laugh. “They noticed a difference, but they didn’t know what it was. It would happen over and over and over. I’d say, ‘No, I got my lips filled, and that might make my hips look smaller, but what you’re noticing is a change in my facial structure — and it’s so subtle.”
For Hatfield, that subtle change didn’t make her embrace her age any less than had she skipped a little cosmetic filler. But as the pro-age-empowerment movement in magazines and advertising heats up with words like “anti-aging” being struck from the beauty vernacular and models over 60 gracing editorials and campaigns, the positive shift toward embracing the march of time has brought to light a tug-of-war between two beauty factions: aging gracefully versus opting in on cosmetic upkeep. Can you have it both ways?
“The question is: Is there an expiration date on caring about how you look? Can I be pro-beauty over a certain age?” Hatfield muses. To her, no matter if you do away with adjectives like “anti-aging,” you’re not actually removing society’s obsession with appearing youthful. And to claim that with age comes the wisdom to simply stop caring about — or trying to better — one’s appearance seems patently false. What complicates matters is society’s double standard with aesthetics: You should look your best no matter your age, but if you’re over 50, you’d better do so naturally — no makeup, no fillers, no improvements — unless you’re exercising, which is acceptable as long as you’re modestly clothed.
The positive shift toward embracing the march of time has brought to light a tug-of-war between two beauty factions: aging gracefully versus opting in on cosmetic upkeep. Can you have it both ways?
“Just because you’re 55 or 65 you don’t have to stop loving beauty,” Hatfield says. “All the glittery eye shadow and the shimmery lipstick and the things you did that made you feel pretty 20 years ago … [society says] you can’t participate in it anymore because you aged out of it? No. We didn’t age out of wanting to feel pretty.” And that includes electing to undergo cosmetic improvements — those minor little boosts that not only refresh your appearance, but also your confidence.
Of course, some women turn to cosmetic procedures in pursuit of a face they had decades ago — and there are medical professionals at the ready to fulfill this desire. But, again, moderation is key. “Unfortunately, aesthetic procedures have gotten a bad reputation from ‘line chasers,’ those providers who aim to erase all wrinkles and expression lines from the face without regard for proportionality or maintaining a natural appearance,” says board certified oculofacial plastic surgeon Chaneve Jeanniton, MD, FACS at Brooklyn Face & Eye in Brooklyn, New York. “The truth is that many of the procedures we typically think of as being potentially overdone can be used in moderation by an expert who understands the face and the patient’s goals.”
What procedures might these be? Dr. Jeanniton guides us through what treatments give you minor boosts without stripping you of your hard-won looks.
“Fillers are great for restoring facial proportions. This, I think, is why they’re empowering, because they don’t have to be used to alter the appearance, but rather to restore the balance of one’s own natural beauty,” Dr. Jeanniton says. The aim with fillers is to enhance beauty via subtle volume, not to create a “pillow face” where volume is added throughout without respect to what she calls the “grace of age.”
Dr. Jeanniton likens proper filler usage to a makeup pro’s skill: “Makeup artists are extremely skilled in manipulating light and shadow to communicate beauty and health. At their best and without overuse, fillers can create the same effect by lessening shadows and optimizing light,” she says. She favors hyaluronic acid fillers for their flexibility and ease of personalization, as well as the fact that the treatment is minimally invasive with negligible downtime and results can last for more than a year. Plus, should you develop “filler regret,” she reports the plumping can be reversed with an enzyme injection that effectively “melts” the filler and returns features to their original shape.
Glowing skin denotes health and youth, and it can be achieved through chemical peels, which Dr. Jeanniton says, “Reveal your gorgeous face in its healthiest, freshest state — and that is truly empowering.” She lists these peel benefits: The treatments are highly customizable, tend to be more affordable and have cumulative results (think: fewer age spots over time) when undergone in a series. “The freshly revealed skin that emerges has less fine lines, sun damage, and irregularity in tone and texture,” she says. Of course, the deeper the peel, the more downtime that’s required to allow skin turnover, but less invasive peels can have you in and out during your lunch hour.
“I commonly hear women’s frustrations about not being able to apply makeup properly around their eyes because of the excess skin that accumulates as we age,” Dr. Jeanniton says. For these patients, an eyelid lift, also known as blepharoplasty, helps to open up the eye, can address eye bags, and will remove any drooping skin that contributes to a tired appearance. And, as we know, an exhausted expression instantly ages faces — even if you’re feeling your perkiest. “After eyelid surgery, I love hearing how pleased women are to be able to see their eyes again,” Dr. Jeanniton shares. “The effects are long lasting (well over a decade) and really help to keep you looking refreshed — even if you’re not getting enough sleep!”
Done with care, Dr. Jeanniton believes these three cosmetic procedures all deliver the same outcome: They help women to look their best and empower them to take control of their beauty options at any age. “I think that’s the definition of empowerment itself: the ability to make confident choices,” she says. “In this case, we’re talking about beauty, and although cosmetic procedures aren’t life sustaining, they — like many decisions we make in our lives — are a way to empower ourselves to do something to make us feel good.”
And feeling good is the definition of aging gracefully.