Appearing on The Howard Stern Show last week, Sarah Jessica Parker spoke very honestly about ageing in Hollywood—from facelift regrets to the sexist double standards that, as we all know, are pervasive and entrenched in our society.
After she shared a story about landing leading roles early in her career, Stern questioned how Parker viewed herself. "I mean, I'm presentable," she replied. "I don't really like looking at myself... I think I'm fine." Stern then asked whether she ever considers interventions like "a facelift, Botox, and all this other shit," to which Parker responded: "I think about all of it. I ask people all the time, 'Is it too late?'. Now people would be like, 'Well you don't only look rested, you look like an entirely different human being!'."
Elaborating, the Sex And The City and And Just Like That… star admitted, "I honestly think I missed out on the facelift. Like an old-fashioned good one, that you have when you're like 44."
Why? She notes that "there is so much emphasis put on, especially women—and primarily women—about looks". Something which must feel grossly magnified in Hollywood. "Even last year when we first went on the air with the new season (of And Just Like That…), there were so many endless articles about 'ageing' and 'ageing gracefully', and you know, 'Sarah Jessica's hair is grey'—and I was like, first of all it's not, but who cares? I'm sitting next to Andy Cohen whose head is covered in grey hair and you've not mentioned that at all."
Indeed, it's a topic that was tackled in the sixth episode of the first season of And Just Like That..., directed by her co-star Cynthia Nixon, in which Parker's character Carrie is seduced by the prospect of surgically turning back time, and discusses the pros, cons, and pressures of tweakments with Miranda and Charlotte in a way which very much reflects the realities of ageing as a woman today.
Dr Ashwin Soni, a GMC-registered plastic and reconstructive surgeon and founder of The Soni Clinic tells Bazaar: "I think the expectation that we set on women from a beauty perspective is not fair, and unfortunately it is not the same for men." He notes that "not only do women have to endure hormonal changes significantly and have to go through the menopause (consequently losing 30 per cent of their collagen within the first five years), but also the standards are entirely different".
As someone whose job "is to give patients the improved self-esteem and confidence that they deserve", he echoes Parker's further comments that "people should do whatever makes them feel better walking out the door"—be that involving cosmetic procedures or not (a compassionate take on it mirrored by sentiments in And Just Like That...).
As for the 58-year-old's comments on feeling that she "missed out" on having a facelift, Dr Soni notes that "the best age bracket to get a facelift would be between 40 and 60," though there are various factors involved—including the patient's facial laxity, overall health status, aesthetic goals and priorities. And, yes, "it becomes more obvious that a patient has one the older that they get, so beyond late 50s-to-60s, it may be apparent". His overall feeling? "The least invasive (anti-ageing approach) is always better, and that is coming from a plastic surgeon!"
Parker, who explained that she enjoys regular visits to the dermatologist with treatments like peels to refresh her skin, is also honest about this. "There are a lot of non-surgical methods that you can do now to improve the quality of skin, and to replace volume," explains Dr Soni. "To improve the quality of skin, and to boost collagen and elastin, the most effective treatments are polynucleotides (my chosen brand is Ameela) and skin boosters (I work with Teoxane Redensity I). There are also devices to help with the remodelling of the skin such as fractional microneedling, ultrasound devices, and electromagnetic devices to name a few." In terms of more advanced injectables, he also works with dermal filler to replace lost volume and soften smile lines. "These treatments can all delay the need for surgery, just given the high patient satisfaction."
While anyone's skincare journey is, and always should be, highly personal, the idea that beauty is synonymous with youth is something that could do with being collectively addressed. The only 'right' and 'wrong' around women and their ageing choices is the misogyny and ageism that underpins it.
This piece originally appeared in Harper's Bazaar UK