In October of last year, Lindsay Lohan unveiled her first, and only, ready-to-wear collection as the artistic adviser of French fashion house Emanuel Ungaro. She had been hired to scatter a bit of youthful insouciance upon a label that, in its Seventies heyday, had taught the ladies of Paris how to wear fuchsia. But after the last set of sparkling, heart-shaped pasties shimmied offstage (their final resting place very likely not the Ungaro archives), Lohan took to the runway and presented what may have been the afternoon's most shocking look: her face.
It's a face that has become all too familiar of late: the lips seemingly flipped up and flattened like soggy hamburger buns; the taut, shiny cheeks that look like they'd been kept at higher pressure than an Icelandic volcano; the monolithic forehead, girded with hair the color of sunlight hitting chrome. Surely Lohan's aim was to preserve the pert, plump architecture of youth, with its even surfaces and apple-y convexities. But the result was just the opposite: Lohan, then 23 and not yet a convict, appeared to have found her way to that effortful, worked-on face that used to be the consolation of women two or three times her age.
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In Hollywood, on the Upper East Side, and in one-dermatologist towns all over America where girls aspire to be contestants on The Bachelor, the precocious use of Botox, fillers, implants, and all manner of nips and tucks is making young women look…old.
"It's a matter of the right procedure on the wrong girl at the wrong time," says New York plastic surgeon Douglas Steinbrech, who has seen the average age in his waiting room fall like a sexagenarian's jowls. "There's this new mentality that if you do not look a little bit fake, then the surgeon hasn't done his job. This used to be a much more prevalent idea on the West Coast, but now you walk up Madison Avenue, and you see these young girls with that cloned, cougarlike face. Either they don't know what they look like, or they want to look like they've had something done."
Photos from the set of George Clooney's new film, The American
In fairness to Lohan and her ilk, that something usually isn't surgery. Botox abuse is the No. 1 culprit: too much, and in too many places. Fillers-Juvéderm, Restylane, Sculptra, Radiesse for that particularly bulbous effect-run a close second: lips, cheeks, eyes, temples, liquid nasal reshaping. For the brave, there are implants: Chin and mandible are just the tip of the silicone iceberg.
"Filler is like heroin to a junkie," says Miller, Steinbrech's partner at Gotham Plastic Surgery. "It's easy and available, and for that second hit, you might find yourself wanting a little more."
When it works, the effect is staggering. Demi Moore, who has publicly acknowledged entrusting some aspects of her upkeep to modern medicine, has looked 36 for the past decade. If she's careful, she'll be 36 for another. For Lohan, on the other hand, the only guessing game is why a woman who has not yet celebrated her 25th birthday should aspire to a face fit for blowing out a dozen more candles.
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Photo credit: WWD/Steve Eichner