Monday, February 09, 2009

Wrinkles and models

Tara Parker-Pope's post (say that three times fast) about twins and wrinkles says one thing but shows another. The science says all sorts of things age us, and that the study of twins reveals nurture, not nature, to be the deciding factor.

The WWPD verdict? Looking at the photos without the commentary, what I saw were a bunch of identical twins, some of whom are better at hairdye maintenance than their siblings. Contrary to popular opinion, and to the evidence as presented in the article, smoking does not make a person more wrinkled, just thinner, which does, as Catherine Deneuve, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and now Science know full well, make older women look even older, thus the ass-face dilemma, far less obscene than it sounds. If there's any health message to be had, it's that if smoking barely makes a difference, and being overweight makes skin smoother, wrinkles are not an indication of much of anything, health-wise. Or so I concluded. But, says Scientist:

"'Excessive loss of weight can be detrimental to youthfulness and attractiveness,' Dr. Guyuron said. 'It’s a warning if you lose too much weight after the age of 40.'"

And the "warning" is what, exactly? Isn't it worse, health-wise, to be overweight over 40 than to face "an older appearance"?

And as always with matters vaguely scientific, the comments provide some insight:

"Seems to me diet would also have a big effect - I often notice that people who eat a poor diet of all processed foods look much older than those who eat healthy."

Who would have enough to go on to make such an assessment? By which I mean, how would you know, without really studying a set of people, 24/7, over time, who eats what, and how old each person is, versus how old they look? Also, how many people eat "all processed foods" or "healthy", one or the other, exclusively? I ask because it is entirely possible to be on your way to the store to buy salad, meat, and other real foods and be so hungry from having to throw out most of an inedible falafel sandwich at lunch that a Twix is necessary to get through the remaining hours of shopping, commuting, and cooking. Man perhaps could live on Twix or salad alone, but both have their place.

Speaking of which, today has been Day of the Model. As in, from morning till night, runway models been everywhere, from the subway station to the sidewalk to the store, more than the usual, and the usual is a whole lot of models. I even collided with one at Whole Foods (where they are everywhere, although given their apparently empty carts, I don't know if this is proof that they eat; I did see one looking at the tomatoes with intent to purchase), her awkwardly dangled basket and my overstuffed Institute of French Studies tote entangled, much to Jo's amusement. Why amusing? These women are, and I barely exaggerate, twice my height.


Dana said...

I think the photos have to be in high def close-up and you have to be a dermatologist, aware of what you're looking for. They look mostly comparable to me, too, but my dentist sister says that she can tell an older tooth from a younger tooth and I believe her. So, probably the same with skin, no?

I don't really choose anything. I'd like to remain active (but by that, I mean walking several miles a week and doing a few weight-bearing exercises a couple times a week to prevent osteoporosis, which affects Asians at a greater rate), but I don't choose between my ass or face. Apart from treating dry skin and wearing sunblock, I don't do anything. I am constantly told that my unlined, naturally round (really, I don't need to choose, the fat just settles there) face needs anti-aging cream. I do not believe those beauty counter saleswomen. I don't even know how much the creams will do, anyway. Seems like pseudoscience.

Dana said...

Also, I cannot imagine living in NYC, among models. I just don't know what to do with them, having never met one. And I spent three years in Los Angeles, where I would run into celebrities with some frequency. At least with them it's like "ah, I recognize you, nice/awful movie." With models, I would just stare agape at these bizarre and tall genetic confections.

Phoebe said...

I don't choose, either, but I think the ass-face dilemma refers to something faced by older women, although apparently Catherine Deneuve's cutoff was 30, which baffles.

Yeah, model sightings are a different animal from celebrity sightings, which are also fairly common (i.e. the actor who plays Mr. Big on the subway, my favorite sighting of all time, given the persona-versus-actor contrast). For all the talk of airbrushing, it's clear enough that at least many of the models really are as skeletal-looking as in photos. But the main thing, from my perspective, is that they are ridiculously tall, all the more so given their preference for heels that accentuate this. They're immediately recognizable not because they're all famous, nor because they're the only tall and thin women in NYC, but because of the shoes, and because they all have this one particular facial shape, one I'm guessing is especially easy to find in North-Eastern Europe.