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"It’s Better To LOOK Good Than to FEEL Good, Dahling" – Billy Cyrstal as Fernando Lamas on Saturday Night Live

I recently took an eye-opening tour of a Medi-Spa. At first glance, it seemed the typical “get pampered for a day” sort of place, with the soft New Age music, the dim lighting, the smell of wonderful aromatherapies permeating the air, and a nice pitcher of “spa water” (a concoction of purified ice water with slices of orange, lemon and cucumber floating on top) sitting on a table for lounging guests.
 
As my host and I progressed through its meandering hallways, I saw glimpses of treatment rooms. Warm, cozy massage tables, big leather “pedicure thrones” as I like to call them, and even reclining chairs for facials.
 
Then came the “other” sorts of treatment rooms. The ones that put the prefix “Medi” into that particular spa. These were the ones with all kinds of metallic objects and syringes and….numbing substances. “What treatments are done in there?” I asked, naively.
 
“That is where the facial work happens…you know, things like BOTOX® and such.”
 
I cringed at the sound of it. And upon perusing their medical treatment menu, I cringed some more. I never knew there were so many ways in which one could alter their face. There was BOTOX® to reduce wrinkles, dermal fillers to reduce deep creases, PhotoFacials (light therapy) to even out skin tone, chemical facial peels to resurface dull skin, and electrical currents to improve skin tone! At this point, I was looking around for Dr. Frankenstein to come walking out of one of the rooms with frizzy gray hair and a maniacal grin on his face. I heard Thomas Dolby’s "She Blinded Me With Science" playing in my head. Those were all state-of-the-art treatments…but they also had good old-fashioned facelifts that involved anesthesia and stitching. Ouch!
 
I have watched the “two schools of thought” line up against one another, regarding these artificial beauty enhancements. These would be the “okay, so I want bigger boobs/lips/ or no more wrinkles…got a problem with that? Bite me!” and the “it’s a huge mistake to mess with Mother Nature…take what you’ve got and be thankful, dammit!” sides.
 
I don’t know exactly where I stand. I’ve never needed fake boobs, but I know some women who felt downright unfeminine with their little nubs. My body is certainly not perfect and would definitely improve with some of the high-tech alterations out there, as countless others have; however, I can’t help but lean towards “aging with grace.” And I’ll tell you why.
 
When I traveled to Italy in 2000, I went to the ancient, beautiful and mesmerizing city of Venice. There was so much beauty there, I could scarcely take it in. Flowers cascaded from balconies, sunlight flickered on the water in between the earth-toned stucco villas and buildings, and cathedrals loomed majestically over crowded squares. Of course, my traveling buddies and I took the obligatory gondola tour down the Grand Canal. And just as we passed under the famous Rialto Bridge, I gazed down upon four women sunbathing on the rocky shore. Were they twenty-two with slender bodies, perfect skin and silken hair? Absolutely not. They were in their sixties and seventies. Their silver hair was either piled up gracefully on their head or spilling freely down their backs. They wore swimsuits that let the cellulite hang right out there in the sun for all to see. And the best part was…they didn’t care!
 
I think we Americans need to get a clue from Europe in the body-conscious department. Europeans don’t fight off aging with a vengeance, they meet it with class and grace. They embrace every aspect of their bodies respectfully, therefore nudity isn’t shameful or wrong. They don’t mind a little close physical proximity, and they certainly don’t need much to feel beautiful.
 
So when it comes to beauty and aging, do what you will. But just remember that aging gracefully is free. All that cosmetic surgery (uninsurable, by the way) costs thousands of dollars. Also, remember that old Chiffon Margarine commercial from the early 1970s. It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature! *insert sound byte of thunder clap*

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