Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Are cosmetic surgery rates rising cheek-to-cheek with plumped-up stress levels? Or is Plain Jane becoming just plain vain?

We’ve all heard that 30 is the new 20 – that’s old news. And bad news for our skin, as fresh faces start to become decidedly dull with each passing birthday, whether or not we choose to celebrate. We are neck-deep in a youth-obsessed culture, where anti-aging campaigns get more attention than more pressing medical issues. But are we lusting after youth because – well, we are human, after all – or are we actually aging more quickly than in years past?

Let’s face the facts: more Canadians are going under the proverbial knife each year for the sake of beauty. According to a recent survey by the cosmetic surgery financing group Medicard, more Canadians are turning to anti-aging procedures than ever before. 72% of Canadians have considered cosmetic enhancements, with Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta being the largest markets nationwide. Ontario accounts for over 40% of all procedures performed in Canada – it seems like the Concrete Corridor is actually a hall of mirrors.

And if you don’t like your reflection, you’ve got options: face lifts, brow lifts, eyelid lifts, neck lifts, chemical peels, fat grafts, collagen injections, Botox injections, Restylane injections – the list goes on. Who says you can’t turn back the clock?

But why do we age in the first place? Besides, well, time, of course? Sun, smog, sugar, and cigarettes have all taken their share of the blame for skin damage. Or perhaps we are actually aging at a much more rapid pace than we used to. But why? With sunscreen as this season’s must-have beauty product, and smoking being about as un-chic as – er, smoking – shouldn’t we be making steps towards prolonging a youthful appearance, naturally?

Maybe so, but a new villain has emerged from the shadows under our eyes: stress.

When we are stressed out, adrenaline is released as part of the body’s natural ‘fight or flight’ response to threat, whether this threat is real or not. And when there’s no fight to win or flight to catch, it disrupts the body’s balance. Eileen Gravelle, an expert on the visible effects of stress, says that fluctuating hormones, disrupted collagen production, and inhibited cell repair can all be blamed on excess adrenaline. This shows up as breakouts, dry skin, wrinkles … Whatever happened to aging gracefully?

The way we deal, or attempt to deal, with stress affects our skin as well. Lack of sleep, caffeine, poor diet, smoking, drinking – each of these contributes to surface-level trauma and more serious health concerns.

Stress has always been an issue, but it is becoming more predominant these days. Beverly Beuermann-King, consultant for the Canadian Mental Health Association, says the top three sources of mental stress are financial-, employment-, and family-related, according to an October 6th article by Canadian Press writer Anne-Marie Tobin.

Financial issues? Check. Certain economic developments, or – ahem – lack thereof, have even the most Botoxed of women furrowing their perfectly shaped brows. While we may be too young to worry about our retirement funds, we are certainly not too young to feel the effects of the blossoming recession. Yet cosmetic surgery rates continue to rise, even when savings are slim.

Employment issues? Check. The fashion industry, along with many others, has taken a huge hit this year. Many design houses have either shut their doors for good, or at the very least, decided to abstain from Fashion Week worldwide. As aspiring designers, stylists, boutique owners, etc., this news is causing more than a few of us to question our future career goals.

Family issues? Check. Divorce is just as common as not, and the once-typical two-parent nuclear family is so last decade.

Ultimately, cosmetic surgery is a personal choice. But who redefined beauty and youth as synonyms, anyways? Instead of opting for false youth, let’s focus on health. Let’s skip the tanning salon, and sign up for yoga instead. Let’s laugh as often as we can and not fret when our faces start to show the signs of a life well-lived. And as for those bags under our eyes – well, what woman doesn’t need another bag?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Renewing Role Models

Are today’s tween starlets fit to play the role of role model?

Little girls everywhere look up to them! Images of Miley, Vanessa, Taylor, Jamie Lynn and Rhianna rule internet blog sites, covers of InTouch, the big screen, and Much Music. But are these young starlets adequate role models for impressionable young girls, or are they just like everyone else but with their every move scrutinized by the media?
Disney churns out more child stars than we can keep count of and their latest dog and pony show , boasts two of today’s most beloved characters: Vanessa Hudgens and Miley Cyrus. The craze that is Hannah Montana and High School Musical isn’t just fanfare for North American tweens, it’s global. But after all the smoke and mirrors we are left with two young girls, growing up in the spotlight, publicly making mistake after mistake, for other young girls to emulate. First of course there was the notorious cell phone picture scandal featuring none other than Vanessa Hudgens, posing in lingerie, which made the rounds from Page Six to Perez Hilton. And it seems like a day doesn’t go by when we don’t hear a story about precious 16 year old Miley Cyrus! From her inappropriate relationship with a 21 year old male model, sexy photo’s, racist photos, and ‘racy’ cover shoots… she is the cover girl for tabloid fodder. "The photography of Miley Cyrus and other individuals slanting their eyes currently circulating the Internet is offensive ... and sets a terrible example for her many young fans," the OCA statement reads. Oh, she’s just being Miley. But she doesn’t take this criticism laying down."I definitely feel like the press is trying to make me out as the new `BAD GIRL'!" she wrote. "I feel like now that Britney is back on top of her game again, they need someone to pick on! Lucky me!"
But nothing has really compared to Nickelodeon star Jamie Lynn Spears. Her family is no stranger to controversy, and she took the spotlight off of her big sis last year, when Ok Magazine’s cover story featured the 16 year old girl with the headline ‘I’m Pregnant’. Mother’s everywhere tried to shield the eyes of their offspring while standing in lines at supermarkets! Oh the horror, how could the star of Zoey 101 do this to us! And last but not least there is ‘good girl gone bad’ Rhianna. She was one of the well behaved angels for so long, but now rumors are circulating that she and her alleged abusive boyfriend are reconciling. This just might be the worst one for the kiddies to hear about! But how much emphasis can be placed on these young girls? Are they not still growing up themselves? Or because of their successes should they be extra careful because of their ‘role model’ positions in life?
Every generation has its role models. It’s become more and more evident that the lives of celebrities are no longer secret and the more we know about them, the more there is to talk about. Everyone has skeletons in their closet but because of constant media coverage of every little move they make, their skeletons are splashed all over the internet and on the cover of tabloid magazines. And parents just don’t like it. But they had they had controversial role models too! For them it was hell raiser Elvis, or the hard partying Rolling Stones. For me it was the Sid and Nancy of the 90’s, heroin addict Kurt Cobain and lead singer of Hole Courtney Love. But for this slew of young ladies it happens to be overtly sexual young girls.
Alas experts say that it comes down to good old fashion parenting. According to Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights told Pop Tarts, "In Hollywood nowadays, we just hear so much about going in and out of rehab, having multiple babies to different fathers and their lack of responsibility. We hope that most young people can admire Hollywood stars for their talents but filter out these negative influences and turn to other people in their community as more positive role models."
Parents also have to take responsibility for instilling values and morals in their children. They are after all the ones that are raising them, not Miley and Vanessa.