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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?

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