aging, plastic surgery, and ENERGY…

2009 candid photo by John DeAmara

this post has been inspired by the alarming number of botched/detrimentally consequential/scary experiences being reported to me by women as of late. specifically, the last few months. I know for certain that these are spiritual tests for them. prior to the past few months, I had not thought heavily about this subject (aging/plastic surgery), nor had I really discussed it. I have taken my recent conversations around the above as a sign to write about these subjects candidly. it feels like I’m being guided to do it, and perhaps it will assist someone, one way or another.

for a huge part of my entire early life I was conflicted about the way that I looked, mostly because against my will, my head was nearly shaven twice during my prepubescent years — specifically beginning at 8/9 years old. this was actually a horrifying experience for me. I had beautiful long hair, and I felt that from outside appearances, I fit in with my peers. as you may know, prepubescent years are extremely formative. certain events during this time can make or break a person, or sit with them for a long time. ironically (or not), these are the years that a lot of people are molested. if I had a dollar for every person who shared horrible experiences with me that had occurred around age 9… anyhow, it may sound dramatic, but I will never forget how I felt when my 16 inch locks were shaven off. I will try to find a picture — better yet, before and after pictures — to insert here at some point. I went from not fitting in with my peers so much emotionally (I was a year younger than all of them — I started kindergarten at age 4) as I was less mature — and I also had a ton of stuff going on in my immediate environment that was outside of my control — to not fitting in emotionally OR physically. my hair was about an inch long all around, with the “bangs” so short they spiked up because they couldn’t be combed or lay flat. for nearly two years of my life as I entered puberty, everyone thought I was a boy. the night after I was shaved, I recall wanting to disappear. I went to school the next day and I was the laughing-stock. I hid in the bathroom, and my teacher came in to console me. while I was in there, she must have told the kids to compliment my new styles. “hey, I like your haircut” said one person, which was obviously a joke. because when I landed in line for school that morning unrecognizable, there was a new toy out that you could ask questions and it would answer robotically “yes” or “no” — kind of like a magic 8 ball that was prevalent in the 80s, except this one would answer back. “is her haircut good”, one kid asked. “no!”, the machine robotically yelled. the entire line burst into laughter. in retrospect, it’s funny. but at the time, I was in a tortured state. and you might use your best psych hat guesses as to why this was done to me. anyway, clearly those around me who knew me knew that I was a girl, but when I would travel beyond the confines of home or school, people would say things like “hey, do you and your brother want xyz?” to my sibling. it was…awful. I was stripped of my physical identity (the only thing left to take from me at that time, by the way), and there was nothing I could do about it. the night before the cut I cried myself to sleep. after it was done, and re-done months later, I obsessed over the way I looked. I stared at myself in the mirror and wanted the little girl back. I wasn’t old enough to have a shaved head and have people know I was a girl. parents of friends would remark about how much I would stare in the mirror at birthday parties or when getting ready to go somewhere. I was looking for that beautiful girl who, even though she didn’t feel normal, looked normal.

eventually time passed, and that horrible buzz cut started to grow back in time for middle school. there was another horrible cut, somewhere in between that time, and it was not a buzz cut, yet still along the same lines. thankfully I was allowed to grow it out by the time I was 12 or 13. I recall vowing to never go short again. I don’t really remember if I liked my looks or not in middle school, at least not more or less than the average kid. I’m not sure how I got lucky that way, because I did not obsess over anything. that said, my nose had been fractured once already, and around 12 it was growing cartilage across the bridge that was definitely not organic to my bone structure. the difference between 10 and 12 was major when I looked at photos of myself, and the first time I noticed this was during my 6th or 7th grade class photo. even my family was surprised. one of them used to say how surprised they were because I was supposed to look like “xyz person” from school, yet overnight I woke up looking like another person entirely. the entire bridge was swollen across, with elevated cartilage on both sides, totally uneven. I recall being surprised, because it did not look the way it used to. when it was fractured, it bled and hurt, but that stuff happens to lots of kids and they recover without surgery. but it definitely threw off my natural structure. the rest of my nose was fine, and I particularly liked the tip — it was pointy and defined, and I thought it was nice. then I got to highschool. by this time, my nose was larger than the rest of my face, as my face was trying to catch up to it. not to mention, the cartilage was at its peak of size and imbalance. during this time, both immediate family members and kids in school called me “the bird”. I would walk through the halls and they would crow or caw. lol. it sounds funny now, and almost cute. it made me feel super insecure at the time though. when we would drive by the zoo in Florida, one of my caretakers would joke and threaten to drop me off with my real family members — the herons and birds held captive, because we looked alike. this was actually mentioned on a weekly basis, and probably daily in school, and I am surprised I never asked for a nose job then. I felt like I should accept myself the way that I was, and that it was a sin to get surgery to change things. I always prided myself on working with what I was given. I never craved a boob job, even though I had just over a handful. my peers actually seemed more focused on their looks than I was at this point. by the time I was 15, I got a fair amount of attention from boys. my face was starting to grow into balance, despite my fractured nose that did not look like anyone elses in my family — not even extended or distant relatives. I stopped thinking about it. when I turned 16 I highlighted my hair with sun-in (remember that?), and spent my summer outside getting really tan. I remember being happy with the way that I looked despite the bumps in the road in the past. I was still teased by people close to me about looking like a bird or exotic animal, and it was not a compliment. but I didn’t seem to have any trouble attracting boys, and at that age, that was important to most of us. I had my first boyfriend and by this time all physical insecurities had vanished. I had a very robust butt, and the kids in my highschool would yell things at me when I walked down the hall like “rumpshaker!!!” or “rumpROAST!”. I did not mind one bit, for whatever reason. I was proud to be a woman with a large butt. my boyfriend felt proud to be seen with me. then I got to college.

I felt more confident than ever in college. that said, the fracture in my nose started to bother me. I recall researching nose jobs, but I was so afraid of looking like a different person that I did not pursue it. my face started to change in my 20s like faces naturally do, and I was still happy with my appearance all around. during this time, boob jobs were all the rage and I had no interest. then I visited the first psychic I ever went to, at 26. she mentioned right away that I was supposed to be seen and heard, and that I would be on a popular soap opera as a start. she said that this was important to my life’s purpose, and to go for it. then, she told me to get reconstructive surgery on part of my bridge where the cartilage was messed up from two fractures (there was a second one at 14, but by that time most of the damage was done). I had tremendous sinus infections all throughout highschool and in my 20s, and I knew that some of this was probably due to the messy bone structure in my nose. different ENTs had suggested surgery, but I was just too afraid to mess up my looks further. after seeing the psychic, I knew that she was trying to help me because she was familiar with the vanity of the entertainment world. I definitely trusted her, and did not feel she was putting me down in any way. she said “fix the right side where all of that cartilage is built up and make it match the left side”. I said “ok”. I started my research for surgeons, and pretty much caved with the first one I found. he was super old — well, old for a surgeon. 70ish? his wife had been a popular soap actress and he showed me photos of her before and afters — which he doctored. I made it clear to him that I did not want a different nose, that I just wanted my original nose. I brought a photo from when I was 10 or 11, which was a tough read considering our faces change. but he looked at the noses of my relatives and got a feel for whatever was not germane to me. insurance covered it, because obviously, I had a fracture and the right side of my nose (which was always flooded with infections) was collapsed inside. the surgeon understood exactly what my aim was. the day of the surgery, one of the nurses said to me on my way into the OR “don’t you want to fix the tip too?” I said “HELL NO!”. I couldn’t believe her suggestion. it was my favorite part of my nose, after all. after the surgery, I waited. there was a subtle difference that some people saw and others didn’t. my boyfriend at the time didn’t really see the difference. but I breathed better, and I think it looked way smoother in photos. I had an actual bridge for the first time, and all of the messy cartilage looked “put together”. I was happy. it took a lot of consideration on my part, and I was so afraid of being or looking “fake”. then I realized that we have to do what makes us happy, and what is natural or instinctual to us. I never wanted a surgery ever again, because the recovery process was awful (for me).

fast forward and I went on my soap opera, ended a very significant relationship at close to 30, and felt really great inside and out. I worked out and ate well. I didn’t care about what other people looked like, and I can honestly say I loved my appearance for the most part. I did work hard to put myself together, and I will note that my hair WAS and still IS a huge point of contention for me, lol. I imagine 90% of that is past trauma. I went on to do photoshoots to remember my youth, because we never go back in time. I did some modeling. nothing serious. I think because I was happy inside, and had done a TON of self work, and did not cave to the social norm that says “marry by 30 no matter what”, my happiness and authenticity was showing on the outside. the next thing I did was have my teeth matched in color. my new friend was a cosmetic dentist and she offered me something lovely. it did not change my face and I did not get fake teeth/veneers. I even questioned myself in the process, as I had still considered myself a very “real” and “natural” person, and I worried that I was somehow cheating or setting a bad example for insecure younger women. I got over it fast because my teeth came out GREAT. and they were still my teeth. so that was my next real/fake “thing”. as I got into my 30s, I really felt better than ever. I had been doing hot yoga for a few years, I went nearly vegan, and I started sleeping 8-10 hours per night (a contrast to my 9-5 days when it was like 6). I was now out of the corporate world, and though I was broke AF, I was SO happy and rested, all of the time. this made a huge difference as far as my appearance was concerned. I looked younger than I did 10 years prior, no lie. I had been through many personal internal hells with breakups and other issues from the past, and I was working them out through taking good care of myself. it showed on the outside. to this day, I will say that the best recipe for maintaining youth is internal happiness…you can be the ugliest troll and I promise you that if you are happy on the inside, it will shine through to the outside and the world will be your oyster. I mean this. THIS IS ENERGY. the right energy will make you beautiful at all challenges.

in my early 30s, I can honestly say that I never looked better, mostly because I was so happy. and, well, I was taking EXCELLENT care of myself and not making sell-out decisions to fit in with society because I was weak-willed. and then, my mid 30s hit. this is the first time I started to realize that my face was…aging. I thought “well ok, fine”. I also wondered how much I could sleep in order to stop it, lol. to set the stage here, I am now LATE 30s. and so this piece is timely for me to write for a number of reasons. anyhow — in my late 30s, I began to see some “new” things. my face looked fuller. I thought, wow, I have always been so bony, with bony features, I have been waiting for this! I liked it. but then, I noticed things I was not so keen on. they began to happen when 1) I was not rested and 2) I did not work out 3) I did not eat well 4) I was overworked 5) I was not personally balanced or fulfilled with my personal life. and then I realized “oh, this is called aging”. which no one prepares anyone for. my lower face got fuller and there seemed to be way more space between the bottom of my nose (the tip I always loved!), and my upper lip. my upper face started to lose some volume, and I had normal crows feet. well, this is called being a human, I thought. but I also thought…I wonder what…procedures…I could consider without being afraid of them…that will “help me age more gracefully”…and so I started some research and conversations. which brings me right to this blog post…

obviously I do not live under a rock (well not totally), and I knew/know about botox. but for some reason, I never wanted to do it. my smile and laugh lines make me feel youthful. even the crows feet around the eyes. I like them. call me crazy. and then, I know of 20 year olds who have been shooting botox since their teens. to each their own. this blog post is not an opinion post. it’s a share that will maybe resonate with someone in a way that helps them figure out their own appearance stuff. I started to see a lot more blue veins in my face, and I researched dermatologists. then a younger patient friend of mine referred me to hers. she was great. she told me “don’t do botox”. she is exactly my age and she has 3 kids. I was grateful for her honesty. she told me I could consider what is called IPL, which is a laser treatment that targets big blue veins in the face, that could help minimize the appearance of aging. I said ok. I had always been super veiny. so I did it. I looked “better”. I liked it! and then I really started to research…this is the rabbit hole of focusing on appearance, by the way! I still didn’t want to do botox and I had no real reason for not doing it. others I know did it and they looked great. the feeling not to do it was purely gut level. then I heard about fillers. I had honestly never researched or thought about these things, and I’m late 30s. ok, so what is a filler? it’s an acid that your face makes naturally. I thought about that. hm. ok, I can consider that. so a year ago I wanted to soften my jowls without surgery and decided to see “the best of the best” — seriously, he does tons of actors faces. he did a laser on me which improved some blue lines, and then he filled my chin. I liked it for about a month or two. then, what happens, is the filler dissolves — at different speeds, because different parts of your face metabolize differently. I decided I never wanted that kind of face filler again. it’s about 100% dissolved now, and some of my jowls are back. they go away when I sleep a lot, and they go away when I do hot yoga, and when I am super happy. ok, so I can deal with this part of aging. I also found out about lip fillers. I had always sworn I would never do anything like that. a few years back I had seen a surgeon who specialized in ENT, and I went to check on my nose. it was losing structure in the middle from the first surgery, and it was frail because I did not want anything cosmetic done, and the middle was unsupported. he put a “stint” in the middle, made of my own cartilage, which not only physically felt more supportive, but I could breathe even better. it didn’t really change my appearance, but again I hate surgery and I was afraid of looking like a different person. thankfully neither one of these procedures did that. well anyhow, he also did lip injections etc and I felt he was trustworthy. last year I said ok, let’s do it. and I did. and it hurt like a mother at first. I was so scared of looking like Joan Rivers (RIP Joan, I love you), because I have been such a granola my whole life – I went through phases between 27-34 without even coloring my hair because I thought it was “fake” (those phases have passed, I think). I was even afraid to try eyelash extensions, and when I first did, I cried hysterically because I felt I would pay for my sins of altering my appearance by way of some bad karma coming to teach me a lesson. fortunately I’m not blind, I was ok, just like most people who have done that. so anyhow I did the lip contouring, and it really just added back what I had in my 20s plus made things more symmetrical. they dissolve in months, and they are made from your own natural substances. I won’t say to do it or not do it, because I never even thought about it until I noticed gravity and this space between the tip of my nose and upper lip — likely from the stint put in to support the middle frame of it. then I researched other things like lasers that lift and tighten the skin, and those are another rabbit hole. even like a facelift, none of them is permanent, and there are risks. and they can hurt, a lot. at this point, I’m somewhere in the middle of considering going back for an IPL for my veiny face and some lip maintenance. my face feels like my face and I don’t care what other people look like. I have never and do not have the desire to look like anyone but myself. the things that have given me the most flack in life (my pointy bird nose and my big butt) were and are my favorite things about myself. so there’s that.

I write this to first preface my honest to goodness personal experience with appearance, because so many people we “look up to” are not willing to share on this front, and I want to provide some kind of general support or solace for those who feel like they have questions no one will answer. maybe this blog post will answer it. maybe not. but I will say that my bottom line is this: I have never felt more beautiful than I did when I was 16-26 and totally surgery-free/natural, and then again in my early 30s when I began to age and had not even looked into anything anti-aging. I was at my happiest both at those times, and again NOW! no amount of anything can replicate that on the outside, so quite frankly it does not matter and I hope that is the point I can make most clear.

now, for the actual reason that I began this post today. over the past few months, I have been contacted by a variety of women I know whom, have gone under the knife. for breast surgeries, facelifts, botox, and God knows what else. I still don’t know the whole menu of aesthetic offerings. and, these recent reach-outs, have been chock full of warnings by way of sad stories, personal disappointments and fear, by way of trying to enhance or anti-age their appearance. I have never in my life been contacted by women in this way, because typically they are too embarrassed or proud to share what they are “doing” to themselves because there is the weird and fucked up shame over the way we look, which is a sin in and of itself. it is a sin that an instagram page can make a young woman feel insecure. I didn’t have to deal with that growing up. I didn’t have internet, HA. but even now, I think it would take an earthquake to make me feel moved over someone elses face or body in an instagram or otherwise post. because I know myself. and I know my insides. I love myself! this is my eternal protection to falling prey to the illusion that we are somehow happier or better because we have “fixed” ourselves physically. the fact is, our physical selves “fix” themselves only after our inner selves do. again, I promise you this fact.

the women who reached out to me over the past few months — and again, I can’t believe how many it is, considering this has never happened to me before! —  I know are messengers to all of us, to help us rethink our beauty. the horror stories I heard include under the knife surgeries gone wrong to nearly fatal close calls, botched anti-aging procedures (that had never gone wrong prior to this year), and so on. one of them happened to be botox, and it really hit me since it was something I had considered but fortunately had excellent feedback on, telling me “you don’t need it”. there have been other things I have considered as well, as I am in my late 30s and we start to see a difference in the mirror, and sometimes we do not recognize the face staring back at us all of a sudden. I feel like my considerations, while already slow, have been halted with a resounding and loud message about what I have known my whole life despite different experiences: focus on my happiness like never before. when in doubt or hesitation, about any procedure, WAIT. maybe botox works wonderfully for friends and patients of mine, but I had the instinct to not do it…and then I heard real horror story about it from someone I had not expected to hear it from. when we spoke about it, she presented the fact that a “beauty spell” is the classic downfall of a woman’s appearance that will backfire when she spiritually knows where her true beauty comes from. I do believe this to be true. for those of us who have done that inner work, perhaps taking the outer risk is not worth it and will backfire. perhaps we need to look at ourselves with different eyes altogether, even when procedures are at an all-time high. this can be particularly difficult for public figures. I’ve worked with a number of them. I’ve worked with women who have been criticized for their appearance or what they have “done” to their appearance, and I have worked with women who have been glorified for their appearance, while clearly having “done” things to achieve that classic cult-look. they range in ages from 20-60. and at the end of the day, I can guarantee you that none of them is more or less beautiful because of their plastic surgery. what it actually boils down to is how we feel about ourselves, and then what we can “safely” negotiate upon with ourselves, because we are excited to put a little “spunk” back into our look after having kids or hitting late 30s or whatever someone’s desire is. even if you are 20 or 40 or 60 or whatever, and you want to do xyz because you find it exciting, then YOU DO YOU! — no one should judge that, and this is not a commentary of opinion. but what should happen, is inner knowing and happiness first. this will avoid feeling like something needs to be done to “prevent” something — like the lack of acceptance from otherwise romantic prospects,  or rejection from peers. when we take the offensive with respect to our feels ad looks, we are typically in good and far better graces than trying to “fix” something. the defensive is a lack of acceptance of self. doing or not doing something to your physical appearance is neither here nor there — it is not “fake” or sinful, and it is also not “necessary”. what it will bottom-line down to is your personal rationale and background, and taking strong “pro” /on-the-offense with excitement approach. I hope I have adequately explained the difference…and just to reiterate, I am pro-do-YOU — WHATEVER that is.

I share my story/background with my physical appearance because it’s actually not super important to me in terms of how it defines me. I used to shame myself for looking like a boy, and then I used to shame myself for being pretty because I was afraid of being judged on my looks (like, seen as not smart — which has happened and still happens a lot by the way and it’s my greatest filter for being underestimated). you can’t win when you worry either way. I am now loud and proud of the way I look and I will rock that until I die. if there is anything my prepubescent buzz cut and disruptive living circumstances taught me, it was that all I had was my inner self. it took me completely OUT of the physical. and now the physical is just part of being a human for me. I share this also because not too long ago, someone had commented on one of my news articles that I had a “pretty and fake face” — this is particularly interesting because 1) it was a man (shocking), and 2) I had NO procedures whatsoever happening in that photograph except for mascara. in addition there was like zero photoshop or filter happening in the photo. I thought “wow, people are really hyper-focused on the physical, more than I will ever be willing to understand”. I realize how harshly women in particular may judge themselves or measure themselves and I hope that part of my share — and this seemingly alarming message from my recent conversations with women of botched procedures — can serve somehow. in our new age of tech there will always be trolls, and it won’t matter what we do or don’t do. people will draw conclusions and that’s all irrelevant stuff. what is relevant is who are you, what do you want, and why? and, if you are one of the super “woke” who is already beautiful inside and out, remember one thing: you might be tested. you might be tested to KNOW your true beauty, that comes only from within. this is what I see when I see people by the way, I can’t usually see the physical first. in fact, some of the most physically “attractive” people, I have been so utterly repulsed by with no real “reason” (except for the fact that they are hideous inside). and others have witnessed it with me! if you are woke and tested, you may end up with a botched procedure just to remind you of what and who you truly are. and perhaps that will create the gratitude that is wanting to surface like a high-tide. and make you more beautiful than ever. I am grateful for those who have recently shared their experiences with me, because I think that for some reason it will create something positive for anyone reading this. and, for me — perhaps I was going to pull the botox trigger for the first time (I have been specifically debating it for the past few months), and now I am not because this feels like a personal message from above for me.

there is no beauty as powerful as energy. it does not even exist.

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