I just popped down to Rite Aid to buy a bottle of wine. Going up to pay the Manager he asked to see my Driver’s License. Thrilling as this might seem to a woman in her later forties, I had discovered earlier this year that this is simply a new policy. Bummer.
Anywho, as I looked for my license I realized I actually had one from 2004 that had recently expired, and my brand new one from last week. “Ooh I’ve got two,” I said. “Let me find the new one.”
“No, no,” said the Manager, “show me both!” Having been on bantering terms with this nice manager for many years, I obliged. He looked at them both for a second and then said in a hushed tone, “Wow, what a difference.”
“What do you mean??” I wanted to squeak, but instead sailed swiftly on not really wanting to hear an explanation.
It reminds me of a time in London last summer when, in the middle of Covent Garden, a suave young chappie approached me to sell moisturizer that had ‘real gold’ ground into it. “Now listen, fine lady,” he intoned. “You can talk to me. Tell me you don’t want to get rid of those bags under your eyes?” I burst out laughing.
Because here’s the thing. I am a character actress. Every single line on my face tells a story and is what makes my face worth looking at. The frown lines, the laughter lines, the mother lines, the fury lines. And I don’t want to lose even one of them.
When I moved to LA, my first manager looked at my headshots taken in NYC and said, “Oh well, these will be easy to clean up a bit.” ‘Clean up a bit’ proved to be the airbrushing of every visible characteristic on my face other than eyes, nose, mouth and chin. I looked like an extra on StarTrek.
lt was a salutary lesson however. At night when you’re putting on face cream, how often in moving your finger across your cheekbone do you think, “If I could just lift a little here…?” Now I can tell you from experience, don’t do it. You lose most of what makes your face appealing in the first place.
It’s one thing to be a model on the cover of Vogue where we want to look at pretty people for half an hour, that’s their job and we’d feel cheated if they just looked like you and me on a Monday morning. But it’s quite another to actually change your calling card to the world.
Judge for yourself. I suspect I was much cuter ten years ago. But in those ten years? I’ve had two children, laughed a lot, cried a lot, changed a lot and grown a lot. And the removal of all that experience to aspire to some societal ideal of beauty would be so pointless – to me.
So the manager’s reaction at Rite Aid actually did me a kindness. He reminded me that, actress in Hollywood or no, as far as my face goes? I really wouldn’t change a thing.