This One’s for the Ladies

On living forever

As a kid, I watched what would medically be described as “a lot of TV” (see my earlier post) but I was then—and am now—a total baby about scary stuff. I can do monster movies, but nothing where a dude is silently breaking into a woman’s house to torture her with a saber or whatever. So, back then, I was way too young/anxious to watch the 1992 classic Death Becomes Her, in which Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn play frenemies who drink an immortality potion that lets them stay hot for eternity—until they start trying to murder each other. I finally watched it as an adult, and guys...wow.

This movie is fueled by so much sicko rage, body anxiety, and high-camp that it feels concocted by the dream screenwriting team of Susan Powter and Divine. In it, Meryl and Goldie don’t die, but their bodies fall apart in spectacular, disgusting ways. On the upside, Isabella Rossellini is topless in it, which caused me to emit an old-timey-car-horn sound so loud, I shattered all the windows of our house. Bruce Willis is actually sort of hot in it as well—at least to me—giving off a brainy, sullen vibe. He wears glasses throughout, and I’m almost exclusively attracted to men in glasses. Now you know almost all of my secrets. (The secret to my sparkling wit? That’s one I’ll never tell!)

Anyway, hooboy, this movie is something. But at its crux, it speaks to me on a spiritual level, and not just because of the absurd early-90s outfits. It is a filme that addresses the real and visceral horror of aging and the toxic snake oils one will consume to reverse that process. In the name of being less gross-looking, I have done painful, futuristic, and extremely odd things to myself, including: having my thighs shocked by electrical currents, getting my eyelashes permed, having my neck essentially lasered off, and routinely poking my face with a needle-covered wand until blood appeared. Some of these things I’ve done because of my illustrious career as a magazine editor, and some of them I’ve paid for. I’ve spent some of my own money, too, don’t worry about it too much.

Like most women in media, I have a fairly intense skincare regimen. (I’ll be tackling it in another post, for anyone who finds that moderately interesting.) But my most recent gadget—which I got as a gift!—is the NIRA. It’s a handheld laser you hold to your “problem” (wrinkled) areas while pushing a button that sends a blast of heat into your skin with a little beep noise. Yes, it kind of hurts.

I’ve looked over NIRA’s marketing materials, and the before-and-afters are impressive enough to keep me standing at the bathroom sink every day and night, beeping heat into my face and wincing. (My partner calls it “doing your boops.”) In order to have lasting results, it seems like I’ll need to do it until, I don’t know, I’m dead? But considering how many tinctures and processes I already use every day and night, it’s slightly chilling to think of continuing to add things onto the pile, like a Katamari Damacy of personal-care habits that just keeps growing.

I don’t feel especially compelled to explain why it’s important to look ineffably “better” in our society, other than to point at the literal countless examples from social science which prove that more attractive people are treated better, given more job opportunities, and even preferred by newborn babies. Also, when it comes to improving, or at least maintaining, my looks, I believe in the expression “in for a penny, in for a pound.” And I’ve already thrown several pounds into this black hole. 

When does this dance away from my destiny end? I’m not sure. Two truths about me are that I hate horror movies and I am indescribably vain. The list of things I would do to preserve that vanity—assuming I had the money, time, and lack of fear—is pretty long. If I were offered an immortality potion by a visible-nipped Isabella Rossellini, would I take it? Obvs. Would my movie end with me stapling my fingers back on as my corporeal form starts to fall apart? Most certainly. But truthfully, it doesn’t seem all that scary to me.