Jewish World Review Feb. 26, 2001/ 15 Adar, 5762

Gayle A. Cox

Gayle Allen Cox
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Consumer Reports

Is there a way to surgically remove our discontent? -- UNLESS you reside under a rock somewhere, you know about Greta Van Susteren's recent cosmetic surgery.

To those of you who reside under rocks, Ms. Van Susteren is a TV personality and a new member of the Fox News Channel.

Before the debut of her show, On the Record With Greta Van Susteren , she had an eye lift – medically known as blepharoplasty. It was the talk of the media world.

"From Plain Greta to Foxy Babe," heralded The New York Daily News.

"Van Susteren brings freshened eyes to Fox," USA Today proclaimed.

And, alas, just as the buzz was dying down, Ms. Van Susteren's new face appears on the cover of People magazine.

Some industry insiders speculated that Ms. Van Susteren had cosmetic surgery because she felt pressured by her new boss to improve her appearance.

Not so, she says. "I did this because I wanted to do it and for no other reason," she told Good Morning America.

Her only hope is that the swelling is gone for her 30th high school reunion this summer. "I'm hoping to make jealous all those guys who wouldn't date me in high school."

Women, women, women. Will we ever stop obsessing about how we look?

Probably not.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, more than 5 million females surrendered themselves to cosmetic procedures in 2000.

Of the 5 million, 2.5 percent were 18 or younger. Twenty-five percent were between 19 and 34. Forty-two percent were 35 to 50. Twenty-two percent were between 51 and 64. And 7 percent were 65 or older.

What is it with us gals? Why are we such malcontents when examining ourselves in the mirror?

Of course, we like to blame our body consciousness on outside forces – Hollywood, advertisers, men, etc. But for the most part, our image fastidiousness can't be blamed on others.

Anytime I have expressed despair over my declining youthful appearance, my husband has assured me that I look better now than when he married me 19 years ago and that I am more fit than some 25-year-olds with whom he works.

His words – though lovely to hear – do little to ease my suffering. I still wish the bags under my eyes would disappear, and I still hate every gray, wiry hair on my head.

My sister told me about whining over her aging body one day.

While she moaned and threw rocks at the mirror, her husband breezed by, looked at her source of agony and replied, "It looks mighty good to me."

Indeed. Women's dissatisfaction with their bodies comes not from without but from within.

There is an inane sense of discontentment within the female psyche, handed down from our discontented mother, Eve. Whether it is our bodies that need reshaping or our furniture that needs rearranging, we never are completely satisfied. In Eve's case, even paradise wasn't enough.

For the most part, men don't share our discontentment gene. For every six females undergoing transformation in 2000, there was one male.

Men – as women like to say – "don't have to worry" about aging. They have wrinkles and gray hair, and nobody cares. Boo, hoo, hoo. Poor pitiful us.

Well, it isn't that men don't "have" to worry. It is that men aren't worried.

They couldn't care less what color their hair is nor how big their guts are. In their minds, they are irresistible to the female gender – beer bellies and all. They are content; women aren't.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against women looking good. But when our quest to look good results in "chemical peels," "lower body lifts," "thigh lifts" and "buttock lifts," things are out of control.

However, out of control or not, until a cure is found for the mutant female discontentment gene, nothing will change. Women will continue scrutinizing themselves and complaining about every tiny flaw. And if they have to blame their discontentment on the devil – as their mother, Eve, did – they will.

JWR contributor Gayle Allen Cox writes from Fort Worth. Comment on this column by clicking here.


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08/26/01: Is eating on the run the next target of Big Brother government?
07/09/01: Teen tramps and the mothers who encourage them

© 2002, Gayle Allen Cox