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THE FOREVER YOUNG ISSUE

Q + A

Four women discourse on what they've had done, for what reason, and why some of them won't be doing more.

July 09, 2006|LAURIE DRAKE | Laurie Drake is a former staff writer for Vogue and has contributed to Allure and Self.

I Didn't Feel Beautiful

Jamie Lee Curtis, 47, is an actress and author of children's books who swore off plastic surgery and the whole chasing-youth thing

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Question: When you were young, what films or TV shows or people influenced your beauty ideal?

Answer: I didn't have a beauty ideal. I didn't feel beautiful at all. Music--you know, Janis Ian. I attached more to Janis Ian and Joni Mitchell, because of what they were saying.

Q: You identified with Ian's song "At Seventeen"?

A: I identified with Janis Ian's song; I completely related to Joni Mitchell. I mean, I had girlfriends, I would see the way they looked and I would kind of want to--I certainly never wanted to look like me.

Q: What cosmetic work have you had done?

A: I had lower eyelid surgery 14 years ago, which resulted in complications--allergies to things that they gave me. It was also the first [time] I came in contact with painkillers, which then started a cycle of addiction, which I finally arrested after a long time. I had some liposuction done in 1999, which also had complications. And that's it.

Q: Botox?

A: Oh duh, I forgot. Tried that a couple times. In my frown spot.

Q: A Google search for Jamie Lee Curtis turns up images from films such as "Perfect" that suggest you once had a lot of body confidence.

A: I had a good genetic structure, and I just traded on it. When I first was an actress, I made horror films, and I was always the sort-of-ugly-duckling, girl-next-door person. And my body was never an issue. It was really after I did all those films that someone realized that I had a nice figure.

Q: Did it feel flattering?

A: No. Because anytime someone focuses his or her attention on something external, you always wonder what are they really interested in.

Q: You said in an interview a few years ago that you had begun to feel the encroachment of middle age, and that there was a possibility you would become plump?

A: I remember being on "Oprah" once and waving goodbye to the audience, and my arm kept waving. And it was the first time that I'd felt that, and I thought, "Oh my! What's that?" And, of course, genetically I'm of Hungarian Jewish lineage. Hungarian Jewish women are full-figured gals. The reality is that we get heavier to protect our hips and our pelvises from fractures. It's not just an accident. This is how we age. I'm trying to keep fit, keep comfortable in my clothing, keep up with my young children, and at the same time have a quality of life that doesn't mean that I am chasing youth.

Q: Your new book focuses on competition.

A: It's a book for children, asking "Is life nothing but a competition? Is all life about beating somebody else?"

Q: You've also said plastic surgery doesn't work.

A: Oh, yeah. I'm talking about face rebuilding, Botox-injected, scalp-lifted. People who put Kleenex boxes in their breasts and think they look good. The grotesque disfiguring. When you see someone, and they look like they've been away on a vacation, that's subtle.

Q: Is there anyone in Hollywood you could point to and say, wow, the scalpel loved him or her?

A: I would never say that.

Q: You've sworn off plastic surgery, but what about cosmeceuticals?

A: My bathroom towels are turquoise, so all of my beauty products have turquoise packaging. I buy the Lubriderm sea kelp formula because the pusher top is turquoise. That's absolutely the God's honest truth.

-- Laurie Drake

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I Think That I'm Done

Maria Gould is 'over 60,' and now, after a few procedures, the retired engineer has tapped her 401(k) for the last time

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Question: You had your first surgery, an eyelid lift, in 1999?

Answer: I'm sorry I did it. When I look at pictures, I look so much better before than after. I liked the puffiness from before. I don't know if he cut too much. I don't think it was the doctor's fault; it's just that I don't think I even needed the surgery.

Q: But it was your idea?

A: Oh yeah. He was not a plastic surgeon. He was a laser surgery guy who also specializes in eyelid surgery. And then I went to another doctor in La Canada, because I wanted to see what it would cost to fix the wrinkles around my lips. But I didn't go through with it. I got scared, I guess.

Q: So that was your first procedure?

A: I only had it done because my sister had hers done 10 years before. And she's sorry too. A lot of old people get droopy eyelids and it affects their vision, and we didn't have that.

Q: But last year you wound up getting a chemical peel?

A: I went to Dr. Kotler for a face-lift. He evaluated me and recommended a peel instead. For the first month I was pretty sore from it. You had to scrub and keep it moisturized. It got rid of all my wrinkles. If I'd go to T.J. Maxx or one of the stores around here, people would say, "Oh, your face looks good. Give me your doctor's name and number." You're not going to put the "before" pictures in, are you?

Q: Why Dr. Kotler?

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