Vicki Woods: Are you seeing the right plastic surgeon? You can't just boast about any old nose-job or lip-plumping, you know


I read a lot of female-friendly printed matter (the shiny sheets every Tuesday and the Daily Mail, which annoyingly comes out every damn day). I feel it's my duty to keep up with the current wisdom about What Every Woman Needs to Know, but can be rather depressing reading, especially in the Mail (which is more female-fearful than -friendly). Over my lifetime, they must have given me around 15 million bossy tips already, all beginning with Don't: a) get fat, b) get cancer, c) let the romance die and d) selfishly work for a living while leaving my feral children to the feckless care of childminders. Their latest advice is for me to make a "valid investment in self-confidence" by commissioning one or more of the tip-top, must-have, sought-after cosmetic surgeons to shave, file and pad out my body parts. Not only would this make me "more beautiful, more persuasive and better able to lead an active, satisfying life," it would mean I could show off about how savvy I was to have secured a star surgeon.

Cosmetic surgery is nothing new, of course. It's been as easily purchasable as handbags or bedlinen for yonks now. What's new is the status quotient. Tara Palmer-Tomkinson's badly deteriorated septum was repaired and her new nose sculpted by Martin Kelly, "the king of rhinoplasty". Displaying your new Martin Kelly nose-job indicates that you are a person of wealth and taste, just as much as displaying your Frette sheets or your python Stam bag. What's also new – or newish – is the cheerleading aspect to status-surgery, whipped up by all those telly programmes and competitions in men's mags where the top prize is not (as it might be) something red and shiny with nippy acceleration, but a pair of big bazooms for the woman in your life.

Martin Kelly himself declares that nipping and tucking is now "a celebratory experience" rather than one shrouded in the guilt of vanity and self-indulgence, as formerly. Indeed, he says, friends and family often come along to lend support on the initial consultation. "Husbands accompany wives, and fathers as well as mothers now come with their daughters." (Fathers? Isn't that slightly wacky? I'm not sure Daddy is best placed to judge which of his daughter's bits need augmentation.)

As a glance at my headshot will prove, (don't linger, folks, nothing to see, move along), I am well behind the curve on status-surgery. No Botox or lip-plumping (by Dr Michael Prager, "the king of injectibles"). No eye-lifts (from Naresh Joshi) or thread-lift (from Dr Lucy Glancey). No nothing, from any of these masters of their trade. The camera never lies (not for me, unlike for Kelly Osborne). If you feel that the displayed face is somewhat mumsy, I can only plead that I was standing next to my daughter when the picture was taken. You'll notice that the (unplumped) mouth is tightly closed, even while smiling, and you may rightly assume that that's because I haven't had any BriteSmile work done, nor any little porcelain caps fitted on to the fangs to make them shapelier. (Why not? Oh God, I don't know. Who has the time?) Maybe I oughtta, though.

Last time I was in LA, I was having a manicure at Jessica's nail salon on Sunset and kept being distracted by the woman next to me. She had something in her mouth, flashing, like a – what? A miniature torch? A diamond tongue-stud? I couldn't tell and tried not to peer. Only as she was leaving, did I see that it was her teeth, big, bold and bright blue-white, the kind of white that men's shirts turn under disco lighting. She crossed the salon to come back to me: "I saw you looking at my teeth." "No, no", I said, pink with embarrassment. She must have been 60, and though the preservation was pretty expert, a 60 year-old with shimmery blue-white teeth looks crazily odd. She said: "I'm going to do you a real favour. I discovered THE best guy in the whole of California and he's right on the doorstep in Bel Air. You're British, right?" Hiding the obviously British teeth behind my LA-manicured hand, I whispered "Yes, um, er". "Here's his cellphone number. I don't give it out to too many people because I like to keep him for myself. He is ex-PEN-sive, OK? But you're worth it." That was five years ago. I lost the number, or I might have been grinning sassily down at you right now. Shoulda, coulda, woulda, huh?

My daughter's Facebook picture has her pulling a face to a friend's camera. She's well under the age for niptucking, and looks like my mother (a raving beauty), not like me, lucky her. So why the "funny" picture? She said: "You don't want to look as if you're putting out a 'good' picture of you on Facebook." There's a bit of a culture about having a goofy picture. You don't want to look like you're trawling for a date. Like there's a bit of a culture about the amount of friends you put in. I got a message from a guy who had 335 friends and asked me to be one, but I thought, No, I don't want to be 336th friend, thank you. I logged on to Facebook and typed in a dozen friends but none of their names were on the damn thing.

Before logging off, I idly typed in my son's name and lo – there he was. I barely recognised him. Since he's based in the Middle East, I see him only three or four times a year and always with varying amounts of facial hair. It depends on whether his most recent assignment was to a more liberal Islamic country (longer hair, clean-shaven) or a more conservative one (cropped head, raggy beard and moustache). His Facebook picture displayed a brooding, very clean-shaven and Western-looking bloke, full-length in a tight black vest and low-slung combats. Blimey. Very decadent. Not something you'd want the Minister for the Suppression of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue to see on your arrival at Riyadh. When did he get that pop-starry picture taken? I asked my daughter. She fell about laughing. "That's not him!" she said. "He's used Enrique Iglesias for his picture. Like an avatar. You're supposed to know that. All your Facebook friends would know that."

Oh, right. Now I'm dithering between headshots of Amy Winehouse, Andrea Dworkin and Anna Wintour for my Facebook ID. (And that's just the As.) And maybe Anna is a bad idea, actually. I was in New York when she had her first surgery done, and a mutual friend was praising the "great work on that face" over dinner. He put his fork down, stared at me and said: " Honey, you know what? You should use her guy."

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This law firm is seeking a happy, helpful and ...

The Jenrick Group: Production Supervisor

£26000 - £29000 per annum + Holidays & Pension: The Jenrick Group: Production ...

The Jenrick Group: Project Engineer

£33000 - £35000 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Project E...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Technician

£35200 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Engine...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Letter from the Political Editor: Mr. Cameron is beginning to earn small victories in Europe

Andrew Grice
Pakistani volunteers carry a student injured in the shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen, at a local hospital in Peshawar  

The Only Way is Ethics: The paper’s readers and users of our website want different things

Will Gore
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'