By  on November 12, 2010

Did she or didn’t she?

These days, as a new aesthetic takes hold in Hollywood, it’s gettingharder to tell.

Call it the dawn of a deflationary era, a time in which the pushed,plumped, plucked and pulled Hollywood ideal is yielding to something approachinghuman. Exaggerated lips, rigid foreheads, jumbo breasts and higher-than-highcheekbones are becoming jarring relics of a desperate battle against aging. (Of course,they can still be examined for historical purposes on reality-television shows like The RealHousewives of Beverly Hills.)

The new beauty ideal is easy, fresh and relatable. The prototype could be a mash-up ofJennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Blake Lively, Paula Patton and Zoe Saldana, all of whomare gorgeous, but none of whom conform to Hollywood’s cookie-cutter beauty ideal.Neither Aniston nor Lively have perky button noses. Hudson’s, Aniston’s and Saldana’schests are appropriately sized for their athletic builds. All have laugh lines when they smile.

“There is a greater acceptance of women and aging, and a feeling that women can bebeautiful without doing all of that,” says Sarah Finn, casting director for TRON: Legacy,Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Thor, discussing Botox, fi llers, surgery and the like.“Female-driven movies like The Kids Are All Right are a good example. The movie wastrying to be real and authentic, and both Julianne [Moore] and Annette [Bening] lookedlike real people.”

But don’t be fooled. Screen-worthy beauty is more than ever the craft of plastic surgeons,dermatologists, aestheticians, dentists, makeup artists and hairstylists. It’s just that thecraft is changing. The new beauty benchmark requires aesthetics professionals to have adeft touch and keen eye. Unlike some reality stars whose anatomy appears purchased off theassembly line, actresses and actors of substance don’t want to look like they’ve popped out ofa plastic mold. They want to retain their individuality and come across as themselves, but inthe best possible state, so that they look immune to the worst effects of aging.

“It is a beauty business,” says April Webster, casting director for the upcoming movieMission Impossible: Ghost Protocol as well as the television programs Fringe, CriminalMinds and Lost, of Hollywood. “It’s unfortunate, but it is understandable that a lotof people want to look younger. We don’t venerate age and experience. We venerateyouthfulness and attractiveness, especially when we are doing films and television shows.”

“Celebrities want to portray themselves as natural, so they claim that they don’t haveplastic surgery. The fact is that they do,” agrees plastic surgeon Renato Calabria. “Plasticsurgery has a bad rap because you see some celebrities that have overdone it.”

Plausible deniability—or the art of fine-tuning in the range of the geneticallyprobable—is the objective. Moderation is critical to success today, a stark contrast to theage of overload that took off when Botox first promised wrinkle-free ambitions in theNineties and early 2000s, and injectable fillers such as Restylane, Juvederm, Sculptra,Radiesse and Artefill further inflamed the intemperate mood. “Anything can be done toexcess,” says plastic surgeon Norman Leaf. “It is all a matter of balance and taste, and thatis hard to acquire and learn.”

In particular, filler was responsible for absurdly swollen faces and bodies. Plasticsurgeon Sherrell Aston says too much caused lower eyelids that sometimes appeared grayand lumpy, ropy nasal labial folds and chipmunk cheeks. “The pendulum is starting toswing,” he says. “We are seeing more and more people who are coming in now who havetried the filler route and realize that they have spent the cost of two facelifts, and manytimes they look worse or certainly no better than they did before the first filler.”

In fact, a good old-fashioned facelift is now preferred. New techniques are beingused to prevent the tightly pulled, windswept look of yore. Plastic surgeon Daniel Ronelperforms what he calls a modern facelift, in which he pulls the skin straight up rather thanat a diagonal. “It is a more natural look because it puts things where they were before, andthe healing is easier because that’s where the skin came from,” he says, adding, “It avoidsthe ugly incision behind the ear that the traditional facelift surgery has.”


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