i Editor's Letter: Plastic surgery - why?


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A tweet of mine sparked an earnest debate - not in the twittersphere, but at i.

It was a lament for the lost looks of once ethereally beautiful French actress Emmanuelle Béart. Before you accuse me of sexism, this is not the usual "how could she let herself go?"  It's more a question we debate daily trawling photo wires, ogling but discarding celebrity images because we vowed not to be "that sort of paper". The question is: Plastic surgery - why?

Or, in the case of Ms Béart: Why, oh why would a woman who captivated the world in Manon des Sources (1986),who was confirmed in the first rank of beautiful and talented actresses in Un Coeur en Hiver, who broke into Hollywood with Mission: Impossible; why would she feel the need to mess with her looks aged 27? Could she not just read all her own press telling her she was beautiful?

I feel this rises above just celebrity nonsense because, a) it came after all the publicity around International Women's Day, and b) Béart is now to campaign  against surgery. She said, describing her own "botched job": "If a man or woman has something redone it's because he or she can no longer live with that part of their body, it's no longer bearable."

But why is it "no longer bearable"? Forget extremes like Joan Rivers, why do naturally attractive women like Béart, Saffron Burrows, Leslie Ash, Lindsay Lohan and Meg Ryan mess with what nature gave them? When did having thin lips - for example – become so unacceptable? Do we blame  magazine editors and film studios,  or is it all Angelina's fault? Is Béart herself hypocritical for having denied she had work for so long? I am genuinely puzzled. Do you know of anyone at all, famous or not, who looks better AFTER surgery? Is this just a female thing? If you have any answers, either tweet me at twitter.com/stefanohat or email i@independent.co.uk