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Merritt: While 'it's what's inside that counts,' we're still fixated on beauty

Merritt: While 'it's what's inside that counts,' we're still fixated on beauty
This image taken from video shows model Christie Brinkley backstage at the Elie Tahari show during Fashion Week in New York on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Aron Ranen) (Aron Ranen / AP)

Have you seen Christie Brinkley lately? The model, actress and businesswoman — most noted (or noticed) for her appearances in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues — is 65 years of age and doesn’t look a day over 25.

Now that really burns me up.

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My husband and I were watching NBC recently when Brinkley appeared in all of her glorious, silky-blonde-hair-dazzling-white-teeth splendor.

“Come on,” I said to Paul, as he marveled over her ageless beauty. “She’s had work.” (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

What is wrong is that I exercise, eat right and take good care of my teeth, but I don’t even come close to looking 55. Nor do I have the money or gumption for cosmetic surgery. (Of course, I don’t care about looking young, mind you.)

Yeah, yeah, I know. Who among us looks like Christie Brinkley? And, of course, it’s not the outside but the inside that counts; beauty is only skin-deep and blah, blah, blah.

And though those platitudes are ones that I truly believe, I’m being sucked into society’s constant display of beautiful people consisting of movie stars — including beautiful aging ones such as Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren — pop singers, athletes and even the British royal family.

With this in mind, I decided to delve into the world of what-can-make-us-beautiful physically and you wouldn’t believe what’s out there.

In addition to the wonders of Botox, there’s surgery for beautiful hands, breast cleavage, pretty feet and uplifted buttocks. Not to be forgotten is a “new breakthrough” for baldness. Also, we can have thicker, longer lashes by having extensions applied that will last several weeks until the next visit with the eyelash expert, and we can close the gaps in our teeth with the power chain procedure.

Every time I go to the dermatologist, I’m amazed at the number of surgical and non-invasive procedures available for improving less-than-beautiful facial “problems” such as double chins, crepey eyes and the affliction of all afflictions — wrinkles.

The idea of banishing wrinkles probably accounts for the zillion skin care products on the market which range in price from the less expensive drugstore cosmetics to products the rich and famous use, some of which can cost hundreds of dollars. Along with the search for everlasting beauty come the scams or not-so-honest claims of the people who know their product may pave their way to fortune.

I hate to admit this, but I saw an eye cream advertised on the internet with pretty convincing before-and-after pictures that showed marked improvement. So, for $5.95, I ordered what I thought was a trial product. Imagine my surprise when after having received my eye cream, I later received another one, billing me for $120. (In very fine print, it was stated that unless notified, I would be receiving the cream periodically at a cost I wasn’t willing to pay.) After complaining, I stopped the future shipments and was billed half-price — still way over what the product was worth.

And I don’t look any different, which adds insult to injury.

When I discovered both my daughter and one of her friends were victims (hate to use that word) as well, I didn’t feel as bad about getting deceived. None of us had ever succumbed to these ads before.

Incidentally, as far as wanting to improve one’s looks, women aren’t the only ones. Take a look at the moisturizers, hairsprays and shampoos that line the shelves of grocery stores, usually displayed in black packaging designed to appeal to male egos. Also, among male celebrities, there are a few who had a metamorphosis after having had surgery (one not so good) with plenty of media attention afterwards.

In a Baltimore Sun article, I read this past July, I learned that plastic surgeon Grant Stevens targets men in his advertisement displayed at Marina ManLand, a plastic surgery practice, in Los Angeles, which he founded and where he serves as medical director.

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The ad depicts a young man reclining on a leather couch while smoking a cigar and drinking a high ball. Apparently, as a result, Stevens claimed to be “doing more male surgery than ever before in my entire career.”

Another ManLand ad is found on YouTube and it includes all things, well, manly, such as quick glances of studly guys, John Wayne and James Dean. College pennants, a stuffed ox head, wild animal paintings and references to man caves such as the sign, “Man caves where men can be men,” are peppered throughout the video that presents what’s available for physical enhancements.

Surgery, non-surgical techniques such as Botox (dubbed Brotox by the media) and even treatments for underarm sweat and odor are among the gamut of cosmetic improvements offered to men by the Marina ManLand business.

Yes, I do believe our society is fixated on looking good and, I hate to admit it, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon of trying — to no avail, at this point.

Perhaps, 50 years from now, with the continued advancement of technology and modern drugs, the beautiful women and men — no longer scourged with wrinkles, cellulite, baldness or sagging anything — will strive to look a little deeper into themselves.

And when there’s nothing left to improve, a total wholeness will develop.

After all, as my mother said, “It’s what’s inside that counts.”

And 20th century American poet, Dorothy Parker, said it more succinctly.

“Beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes clean to the bone.”

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