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All About the New New Face

Set aside a little time to check out this New York magazine story about the changing face of, well, faces. The writer, Jonathan Van Meter, points out something I've been noticing, too: Our culture is so obsessed with youth that looking good is becoming synonymous with looking like a teenager. He writes:

In the last 10 years, perhaps with the coming of Britney Spears, the age of the ideal has dropped precipitously. Now both fashion and celebrity magazines are filled with images of teenagers — whether they’re Eastern European models or tanned California reality stars. Their faces are plump and dewy and flushed with youth. As thin as their bodies are, they still haven’t entirely shed the baby fat in their faces. This, it seems, is what women in their forties and fifties are now after: baby fat.

It’s impossible to pinpoint exactly when or how a new aesthetic is born, but it seems clear that once we became obsessed with the baby face of the teenage girl, the world of dermatology came up with more and better ways for us to achieve the plumpness of youth.

The story goes on to discuss the "New New Face," the idealized look that famous people ask their dermatologists and surgeons for. It features full lips, large eyes, a small chin, high cheekbones, a petite nose, and a wide smile — pretty much what all babies are born with, and what some women are now paying tens of thousands of dollars to re-create. Except it never really does look convincingly natural, Van Meter says; a 50-year-old will never look just as she did at age 30.

Faces aren't like hair color or hemlines — in one season, passé the next — and yet with fillers and Botox, it's possible to have a dramatically different visage. But are people fighting a battle that nobody can win?

Join The Conversation
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
I fit that description and probably will continue to fit that until I'm 50. My mom is 55 and doesn't have any real wrinkles (she has a few lines in the eye area), but I think that follows the black don't crack theme. Make up artists may love your features, but it isn't all it's cracked up to be. I much rather look like a woman than a doll. I'm also petite.
lizlee89 lizlee89 8 years
the reason people want baby fat is because it doesn't allow wrinkles to show, not because they want to look like a teen - I read in a Vanity Fair article that the less fat in your face, the tighter and more translucent it will be and the more wrinkles will show - it talked about how many cosmetic surgeons are using fat cells and injecting them in people's face along with Botox - whatever the case may be, people need to learn to age gracefully - the only thing that makes you look ugly old is when your lips are unnaturally spread out and you have no eyelids - that's scary...
acyl acyl 8 years
"stop trying to SELL me with a 14 yr old." (Need that edit button!)
acyl acyl 8 years
Well, a big part of the concept of beauty is youth. It's biological for us to see beauty in youth. However, I agree that most real teenagers are not all gorgeous. I too was a late bloomer and I get way more attention from men now at 27 then I did at 17. I admit though, it gets annoying seeing so obviously teen (young teen) models in magazines and photos and advertisements. Stop trying to see me with a 14 year old!
superjules superjules 8 years
I wouldn't trade the wisdom and self-confidence I have at 39 for the body I had at 18 for anything. I can't wait to get older, it just gets better. I'm built like a woman, Marilyn Monroe like. Curvy in all the right places. If I let the media determine how much I should weigh or how much I could love myself no matter what size my ass is, I would just curl up in a ball and die. And if Madonna has the "new face", count me out. My face is waaayy better.
fcseamstress fcseamstress 8 years
I've been noticing this a lot recently. I don't have TV so I'm not as bombarded with images of youth as most, but when I read sites such as this I'm finding it harder and harder to tell certain stars apart. They're all starting to look the same! Part of it is Photoshopping and the other part is surgery, which is women (and men don't forget!) trying to attain a Photoshopped look at all times. It is a totally unrealistic pursuit. Going along this same note but on a tangent... It's incredible how skinny most actresses and models are these days, even the 'reality stars'. How many people do you honestly know who are less than a size 6? We need more America Ferreras who are really representative of what real women look like, cellulite, curves and all!
porkypocky porkypocky 8 years
to answer your question in one word: yes. life has different seasons, each with its good and bad points. enjoy the stage of life that you're in, why bother holding on to the past?
sldc sldc 8 years
I am unsure why people seem to think teenagers are the epitome of beauty. Nearly every teen I have ever known needs makeup and other beauty products, a tan, stylish clothes and accessories, and to watch her weight (unless extremely active) in order to look great. Their skin may be plump, but often so are their zits! Sure some girls seem perfect, but few people come close to that idealized beauty, much less hold onto it for long. I "lucked out" and was a late bloomer with lots of baby fat on my face (with a slim body), so I am asked if I am much younger than I am (even after one child). However, I want to be a sultry Monica Belluci type woman when I am a bit older and a knockout Helen Mirren after that, and a fiesty Jessica Tandy after that. Wisdom and a classic style is so beautiful on a woman. Oh, and the features they claim are perfect are rarely even found on young models and starlets. Even the ones who seem to sorta fit that mold often have to use a ton of makeup to sculpt those ideal features.
chiquita29 chiquita29 8 years
Difinitely a losing battle. Women like Madonna & Joan Rivers (especially Joan Rivers! geesh) aren't fooling anyone. It's sad really. I'm not against plastic surgery, but a lot of women are going overboard these days!
sw33tlovin sw33tlovin 8 years
i meant now can we talk about world news or something important. lmao. when will we be able to edit our comments on the sugar websites?
sw33tlovin sw33tlovin 8 years
i'm not gonna lie, when i get older, i will freak out, but i just don't get how people are willing to risk their lives to look like this or that. no matter how many times i play around with makeup or any of that stuff, i know deep inside all i want is for someone to accept me for all my flab, how i look in the morning, my personality, etc. and to get even cheesier, when people get all these surgeries, do they really feel as great as they thought they would? anyways, i'm sick of these articles. plastic surgery is all people talk about these days. people are obsessed with looking the way society projects as "beautiful." we get it, world news please? sheesh.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
I'm all for it...
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 8 years
Actually we already can see unflattering pictures of celebrities just like we see tabloids pointing out the fact that some of them have the audacity to not have perfect beach bodies and to actually have something like cellulite. The horror!
Brendelwoman Brendelwoman 8 years
I would agree Ellenora that Photoshop is messing with us. Hopefully HD will alert us to the fact that celebrities do have wrinkles and zits.
brittanyk brittanyk 8 years
It's incredible how the media has warped our perception of age. I don't get why people spend thousands and thousands of dollars for plastic surgery that looks really unnatural. They're not fooling anyone. It's depressing that we can't accept aging. It's part of life.
Ellenora Ellenora 8 years
I think it's ridiculous to have a wrinkle-free face at 50. If you ever look at unPhotoshopped pictures of Madonna, she actually looks about her age. I think Photoshop is to blame for everyone wanting to look younger. With Photoshop, you can change just about everything and so the public isn't seeing how these celebrities/models really look like, just a Photoshopped-version. Photoshop should be restricted for the media to just adjusting light and colors, not erasing wrinkles, trimming down waists, arms, legs, giving stars faux tans, etcetera. The surgeons benefit from Photoshopped photos. I think it's time the world starts to see people as they really look like and not as a perfect model of Photoshop.
AmberHoney AmberHoney 8 years
Coming from a 50 year old - I'm going down in history as the only woman who hasn't had anything done to her face (or body) and never will. I'm not perfect but I'm me, not some stepford wife. Life only gets better with age!
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 8 years
I'm 26 and don't mind that I can still pass myself off as a teenager (even though being asked what grade I'm in confuses me) but when I'm older, I don't want to be a 50 something yr. old trying to look like a teenager. I definitely don't want to dress like that at that point so it doesn't make sense for me to mess with my face attempting to look like that...and failing. Even though if people are aiming even younger now, maybe I should say I don't want to look like a one yr. old because maybe that's what people will be aiming for by then.
em1282 em1282 8 years
(Or, rather, based on my avatar, I prefer to look like Stephen Colbert. ;) )
em1282 em1282 8 years
Hee, wren is right on. Those are nice features to have and all, but eh--I'm 25 and I prefer to look like a woman, not a girl.
wren1 wren1 8 years
The plastic surgeons seem to be the real winners here.
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