Plastic surgery and all other attempts to “reduce signs of aging” are just another phase in a long line of oppressive prescriptions placed on women. This one is just like corsets, hoop skirts, foot binding, burkhas, genital mutilation, high heel shoes, constricting clothing, excessive thinness, dieting, tanning salons, and on and on.
All such customs and fads serve to keep the focus on women’s appearance above all else, reducing their time for more meaningful activities as well as limiting perceptions of women’s worth. The beauty practices are also great at generating economic activity, of course–none of this stuff is cheap and most of it requires continual maintenance and updating. If some cabal got together and planned out this grand conspiracy, it wouldn’t be any better than what we already have without a grand plan: brilliant methods for preserving male power in the personal, political, and economic realms. Ironically (or not), excessive thinness, plastic surgery, and all these other things really don’t improve women’s appearances, and in many cases make them look worse. One’s safety can be impacted as well: the diminished ability of a woman hobbled by high heels to evade an attacker is a form of powerlessness not unrelated to the reduction of women’s power in other areas. But then, we all know the only power a woman needs is the power to attract a man.
Really, the worst part is that most women willingly embrace these “beauty” practices, they spend vast amounts of time and money and psychic energy on being what they’re told to be–even when it’s painful, even when it doesn’t magically get them what they want. And they judge one another based on adherence to current norms–so it was probably a woman shouting about Hillary C’s looks at CPAC, when Paul Begala rightfully proclaimed her a “real woman” for not trying to pretend she has no wrinkles.