Welcome to the latest phase!

I've been blogging for several years at http://www.lauraainsworth.com/, and it's great to be entering a new realm. But you'll still find tons of archive posts on plastic surgery, Botox, diet books and other hilariously depressing topics at the original site under "Laura's Diary," along with pics, videos from my shows, sound clips and more. Go over there and poke around!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscar Night: Time to Get Your Cleavage Botoxed!

Ooohh, tonight is Oscar night! Of course, for me, the nominated films – for the most part, a depressing and bloody lot this year – must take a back seat to the annual Red Carpet parade of The World’s Most Beautiful People. The Perfect People. The Sexiest People. The Perpetually Youthful People. The People Who Are Supposesd To Make Us Run Out And Get Plastic Surgery To Look Like Them.

But in order to maintain that essential illusion, Hollywood actresses will each spend untold thousands on designer gowns, hair color and extensions, weeks of intensive personal workouts, radical “cleansing” diets, diamond-particle “signature” facials, fat injections, wrinkle fillers such as Radiesse, subtle “one-stitch” facelifts for 30-something actresses, “spot” lipo to smooth every molecule of bulge, foot surgery to help them stand in stilettos, dental bleaching, and even calming doses of anti-anxiety drugs. If the Hollywood economy lost billions of dollars during the writers stike, the money spent on looking beautiful for Oscar night should make up for it.

Jeez, if I had this much pressure on me to look fabulous, I’d probably be popping Xanax, too.

I haven’t even mentioned Botox yet. Goodness, movie stars photographed outdoors in the afternoon sun can’t look squinty, so virtually every one of them will be Botoxed on the forehead and between the eyes. Of course, some Hollywood stars will come close to mainlining Botox. A few will look very pointedly paralyzed. Botox is also injected into the armpits to keep stars from perspiring on the Red Carpet or while waiting nervously for that possible Academy Award. Finally (this is something I just learned about, in a more detailed article in the London Daily Mail), Botox is now used to RAISE THE CLEAVAGE and make breasts look more youthful. (With all the breast implants in Hollywood, I would hope the dermatologist would take extreme care using needles around breasts!) There’s even a special cleavage “facial” that’s essential for anyone wearing a low-cut dress.

Oh, and here’s a newly popular but squirrely idea: false eyelashes made of mink or squirrel fur! They cost thousands of dollars a pair, but it you take good care of them, they’ll last five to seven wearings. Madonna got some that were made of mink and diamonds.

If all this isn’t enough to make the actresses look drop-dead gorgeous, they’ll also be dripping with diamonds and other precious stones. Many will have every square inch of skin airbrushed the perfect glowy color. They’ll strut in Jimmy Choo shoes -- and if their feet don’t look perfect in them, there are anti-inflammatary injections. Also, did you know that celebrity makeup artists can charge several thousand dollars for creating just one Oscar-caliber makeup? Appointments are booked many months in advance.

Sometimes an actress can do all this and still be savaged by the snarky TV and tabloid critics. So I understand why stars want to look as lovely as possible. At the same time, we out here have to keep all their efforts in perspective. There is so much we can do to take care of ourselves and look like real, relaxed, healthy, beautiful women without obsessing about our looks the way narcissistic movie stars do. Really, who do you think would make the more interesting dinner companion – you, or a perfectly-manicured J-Lo in hair extensions and mink eyelashes?

Of course, it's possible the mink might be a better conversationalist than J-Lo.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Demographics And The Presidency

Disclaimer: The following commentary about age as it applies to the Presidential campaign has absolutely nothing to do with my choice for President of the United States, which reflects, as it should, my very close examination of the issues facing this nation and how they might be addressed in the real world by a real person. What does this individual think about the role of government? Is he or she able to communicate his or her views well? What philosophy might affect his or her choices for Supreme Court justices? What might we actually see in the world as a consequence, intended or not, of this person's election? In my opinion, race, gender and, yes, even age are not relevant to this analysis and should be set aside so voters can consider the things that really matter. So there.


I'm writing this on "Super Tuesday," though I live in Texas and thankfully won't have to go out into the hailstorm (no exaggeration!) to vote now. But if I were voting today, the choice, as it's been presented in the media, seems clear: Do I want the young, dynamic black guy? The older white woman? Or maybe the super-old white guy? Hey, the Baptist or the Mormon? The only major demographic contest we don't have - at least, as far as we know - is gay vs. straight.

In fact, I'm reminded of an episode of "Will & Grace" in which Will (gay) and Grace (Jewish) are trying to decide whom to back for City Council: the gay man or the Jewish woman. Will, predictably, backs the gay man, while Grace, just as predictably, backs the Jewish woman. Later they realize they can't support either candidate -- not because of their demographics, but because of their incredibly horrid views.

But let's get back to our real election, where the stakes are higher because they are not fictional. Here, the young black guy has a Kennedyesque coolness and a hopeful message that inspires blacks as well as whites, some of whom perhaps long to recapture that wonderful media creation, Camelot. The older white woman is doing well among Latinos, Asians and, not surprisingly, older white women, some of whom have remarked, understandably, that they just want to see a woman president before they die. (Additional disclaimer: Please do not assume that I think everyone supporting these candidates is doing so strictly because of demographic kinship, but many obviously are.) The really old white guy is doing very well in the polls, but in spite of that was recently deemed too old to be President by columnist Anna Quindlen. ("Race, gender - they're both up for grabs in this election. It's age that has become the new taboo in a vitality culture.")

Quindlen refers to McCain's age as "the elephant on the campaign trail," saying, "There's been plenty of talk during primary season about gender and race; it's age that has become taboo."

Personally, I think all three should be immaterial and are a convenient way of tap-dancing around real issues. There has already been too much playing of the race and gender cards, not so much from the voters themselves as from those candidates -- and their husbands -- who think it can help them. If candidates truly believe that race and gender shouldn't play a part in this election, then they should refrain from bringing them up.

But now Quindlen plays the age card. She dismisses our society's so-called "age is just a number" mentality - oh, how I wish we had that mentality, instead of obsessing about age the way we do - and goes on to say this: "The gentle but inevitable passing of the guard that once gave young people an opportunity to rise has stuttered and sometimes stopped." WHAT?? I'd like to know what planet Ms. Quindlen is living on. As a woman in my chosen field, I'd see my opportunities increase exponentially if I were in my twenties today.

Quindlen also points out that Old Man McCain suffers infirmities from his years of incarceration and torture: the inability to climb stairs quickly or to raise his arms to comb his hair due to multiple fractures he received at the hands of the Viet Cong. My first observation: What hair? My second: I wonder whether she would've supported the young, dynamic-looking, poufy-haired John F. Kennedy if she'd known he suffered from Addison's Disease and almost incapacitating back pain? When the cameras weren't on, he must've climbed stairs as slowly as McCain. What about Franklin D. Roosevelt, so ravaged by polio that he had to use a wheelchair? How much correlation does age have with vitality and ability, really? If the writers of the Constitution had seen such a connection, they never would have specified that Supreme Court justices could serve for life.

In fact, I recently saw McCain's 95-year-old mother, Roberta, on the news and she is incredibly youthful and gorgeous! Oh, my god, have you seen this lady? She must use Perricone. And she's had the vitality to accompany her son throughout the campaign, city after city. McCain definitely got some good anti-aging genes.

When I think of the years of excruciating torture and lasting pain McCain has endured, I have no reason to conclude that this has left him a hobbling, feeble man. Instead, I'm reminded of the saying, "What does not kill us makes us stronger."

George Washington first took the oath of office when the average life expectancy was under 40, so even at age 57 he was way past his physical prime -- including his teeth, which had long since been replaced by a full set of painful dentures. He served two terms and left at age 65, which in those days was considered positively wizened. Ben Franklin, though never elected President, was active in government affairs into his 80s at a time when few even survived to that advanced age. We've had Presidents who were young, old, athletic, frail and even morbidly obese. Granted, Grover Cleveland could never be elected in the Media Age - not with the camera adding ten pounds to a body that already fluctuated between 300 and 332 pounds. It was only after serving as President that he relieved his severe sleep apnea by losing 80 pounds, and then he continued to serve, as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

No one who publicly asserted that a black person or a woman shouldn't be President would be respected today, no matter what rationalizations he or she might employ. But not so long ago, if we'd had a woman at the top of the ticket, there would've been dire warnings day after day about the emotional fragility and hormone swings that render all women -- with the possible exception of Margaret Thatcher -- unsuitable for high office. Thank goodness we're past that. Yet some are starting to talk about age in a similar way. It's as I always say...AGE IS THE LAST BIG CULTURALLY-ACCEPTABLE BIAS.

Of course, with a 71-year-old candidate, the choice of his running mate rises in importance, and Quindlen addresses this, posing the question, "If you enter the process stressing a hedge against mortality or incapacity, shouldn't that suggest something about suitability for the job in the first place?"

Answer: NO. Just the fact of being President is as much a risk of mortality as being older. It's a hazardous job in ways that have nothing whatsoever to do with age. I'm sure Presidents Kennedy, Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley, all assassinated while in office, would agree if they could speak to us. The choice of a running mate is always important. If you scan the obits, as I often do, you see that death or incapacity can strike at any age.

It's great that we have such demographic diversity among our candidates this time. Still, we won't be over our prejudices until these differences are simply incidental and play no part in our choice for President. I think we're still a long way off.

(I'll now pause to review the election returns from Super Tuesday, and wrap this up in the morning.)


Well, it's just as I thought. According to a detailed demographic breakdown from Katie Couric and the gang at CBS News that made me want to tear out my hair, Hillary did well with white women, Latinos and Asians, and not so well with blacks. Obama received most of the black vote and did quite well with younger whites. The pattern was so striking that pundits expressed concern about the preeminence of "identity politics" among Democrats.

Among Republicans, Romney didn't fare too well; he won his home state of Michigan and also states with high populations of Mormons, who wouldn't vote for Huckabee, a Baptist, if Huck paid them to. Huck can't afford to do that, anyway - he runs a very low-budget campaign! Thus, another stereotype is shattered: rich doesn't necessarily trump poor in the Republican Party.

But it's the short, balding, white-haired, achy-jointed candidate who really won the night. That's right, the Grand OLD Party came out for creaky old John McCain. Thankfully, his age wasn't an issue to the voters, and I didn't even hear it mentioned by the pundits.

But if he gets the nomination, mark my word: we'll be hearing about it a LOT.