Welcome to Part II of Musing #6: Beauty (or How Barbra Streisand Ruined My Youth).
I know. The first installment was volatile, and it made you uncomfortable. Fear not. That half was about those who have taken me down. This half is (ultimately) about those who have uplifted me.
So, where were we?
Ah, yes. We were at: Babs did nothing for “ugly” actors.
Have you ever heard of the Streisand effect? I hadn’t until earlier this week, whilst in the throes of composing this tortuous essay. Quoting the almighty Wikipedia: “The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.”
Hilarious. How exactly what I’m doing here is THAT?!?
Here’s sharing an essay that makes me want to throw dishes at windows: “The Pride of Being the Only One in Hollywood Without a Nose Job: Barbra Streisand” by Franca Sozzani.
And here’s the thing about Babs being the “only one” to let it be: She broke zero ground for the rest of us. It’s NOT a feminist thing. It’s a BABS thing. She did NOT pave the way for open-minded casting. She paved the way for Barbra Streisand comparisons.
Admittedly, that’s not her fault.
It IS, however, her fault that she has long-claimed the reason for no surgery is protection of her VOICE.
Quoting a sharp commentator on the essay in question (who writes at the handle of charleyvldm9): “She could’nt [sic] interfere with her nose, because it would affect her voice. Just like Michael Jackson.”
Yup! Babs has been preaching singing nose BULLSHIT for DECADES.
She touched ME with that nonsense, and it kept me from asking for help. FOR YEARS.
Franca Sozzani’s disgusting, politically-correct essay makes my pain out to be superficial. My pain is NOT superficial. I can’t change the terrible business of show single-handedly by NOT fixing my nose. (Is not Babs living proof?!?) So why should I endure my deepest pain for my entire life on behalf of fellow chicks (who largely give me shit about my not-weight-problem)?
Because some bitch who doesn’t run in my race thinks it’s fabulous?!?
Pardon me, but FUCK FRANCA (and Pirandello).
Uma Thurman‘s nose? Are you kidding me (in the UTTER NON-ISSUE department)?!?
“Tell me about Glenn already!” says you.
In Musing #2, I invoked Mr. Murray Mintz (the great teacher who had an enormous impact on my life). I wrote, in that post, about how I am a New Yorker today because he advised me (correctly) that NYU/NYC was where I was born to belong.
That’s not even “close” to the best advice he ever gave me.
As I mentioned in that same Musing #2, I only applied to one college: NYU (Early Decision). One evening – whilst awaiting my college verdict, following an arduous rehearsal senior year of high school – Mr. Mintz found me crying. He asked what was wrong. I explained that I was freaking about NYU.
Stacy: I don’t know why I’m doing this to myself. I’m not pretty enough to be an actor.
Had Mr. Mintz responded with some bullshit about how I was beautiful, I probably would have given up on my dream at that very moment.
But he didn’t spew any bullshit. (Bless the man.) Instead, he responded thus:
Mintz: It’s an asset. Glenn Close isn’t pretty either. But she can play anything. A plain girl can be made to look glamorous, but a pretty girl can’t be plain.
He was, obviously, not taking prosthetics into account. (Because he was talking about the pure craft of acting.) That doesn’t mean his point didn’t land.
Plain (admittedly, with prosthetics) Glenn:
“So, what changed when you were 20?” you ask.
Well, technically, I was still 19. The blessed change came a month before my birthday. Regardless, the story is best told with another excerpt from my long-buried one-woman show, FROM THE NECK DOWN:
One night in the summer of 1999, whilst home from college and stirring Pasta Roni, I was in a predictably foul mood. And Dad arbitrarily chose that moment to nag me about being a movie star; specifically, about how I wasn’t one.
Stacy: Dad, I will NEVER be a…
(She rolls her eyes.)
Stacy: …movie star.
(She bursts into tears.)
Stacy: Because I can’t be photographed from ANY ANGLE!
(She becomes Dad, looking slightly dumbfounded and genuinely concerned.)
Dad: You’re beautiful!
Stacy: Uch, Dad. I’m ugly as SIN! Look at my face, and don’t pretend you’ve never noticed!
Dad: Noticed what?
Stacy: YOU KNOW WHAT!!!
(A flabbergasted pause as Dad.)
Dad: Your nose?
Stacy: Yes, OBVIOUSLY, my nose! Uch, I HATE that WORD!!!
(Another flabbergasted pause as Dad.)
Dad: Well…do you want to fix it?
(A flabbergasted pause as Stacy.)
I was FLOORED.
I had never before shared this psychological torment with my parents (though they certainly knew I was a tortured soul), and I’d never even considered asking about the obvious remedy. I’d always assumed that query would be met with some bullshit about me being beautiful and plastic surgery being unnatural.
I fought my dad for five years just to get my ears pierced! Even if I had been CAPABLE of expressing my pain – and I was, decidedly, NOT – why would I ever think this man would permit me to change my FACE?!?
Much to my shock, Dad – who happens to be a surgeon of the ass – enthusiastically explained that he believes in cosmetic surgery.
Dad: If a fixable feature interferes with your ability to be happy, it should be fixed.
And thus, the decision was made to overhaul the offending proboscis. Immediately. Before I went back to NYU.
To all the holier-than-thou plastic surgery nay-sayers: Unless you care to walk a mile in my nose, you do you. I’ll do me. Thanks.
Now, thrilled though I was about the miraculous gift of this surgery, I was also scared shitless; mostly, of ending up with a ridiculous, pointy, upturned pig snout and barely resembling my former self. Beyond that, Barbra Streisand had me utterly panicked about my singing voice. I frantically implored the surgeon (who assured me Babs was wrong on the voice point):
Stacy: Give me Cher, NOT Jennifer Grey!!!
He swore he wouldn’t touch the tip. He was simply going to straighten the bitch out. To this day, I abhor the Joe Pesci bulb at the end of my nose. I always will. But better the bulb than the egregiously-altered look. I still wanted to be STACY. The primary source of my misery had always been my profile.
So, on August 10th, I had my rhinoplasty. When it came time for the unveiling – after a painkiller-blurred week of sponge-bathing, during which I resembled Boris Karloff as “The Mummy” – I was a puddle of nerves. Yes, I despised my nose. But the status quo was, if nothing else, familiar. Who knew what horror the surgery had wrought? What if I looked even WORSE?
WHAT HAD I DONE?!?
The surgeon put me in an upright examining chair.
(She sits in the chair.)
He removed my bandages and handed me a mirror.
(She reaches under the chair to pick up the mirror and takes a deep breath, mustering the gumption to look. Eventually, she lifts the mirror to reveal her reflection. She smiles and bursts into sudden tears of joy.)
Stacy: Oh my god, thank you! Thank you!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! It’s perfect. And thank you, Mom and Dad, for understanding. This means the world to me.
Dad: You’re welcome, sweetie pie. Now you go be a movie star, OK?
(She admires her reflection.)
Stacy: I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe this is me.
And there was, as promised, no change in my singing voice. (Damn you, Babs!)
But, here’s another thing: The evil agents described in the first half of this piece say what they say about my face POST-NOSE JOB.
THAT’S how awful the business of show really is.
That’s why you get out of this business if it’s not fundamentally in your DNA, despite your rational mind.
This business is in my DNA, despite my (at times) rational mind. And, rational or otherwise, my surgery gave me the confidence to fight for my dream. I’m in it for the long haul, come what may. Should I die with you never having heard of me, I’ll die knowing I never gave up on myself.
And that will have been a life well-lived.
Heavy shit, right? Breathe easy. It’s all over now.
I don’t yet know what I’ll be writing about next week, but it most certainly will NOT be beauty. Composing this essay over the last few weeks has been, frankly, excruciating. I’ve officially had my fill of the topic for years to come.
So tune in seven days from now for more stories about paying for one’s life as an artist in this exorbitant city. Gettin’ back to not-nearly-as-painful basics!
Until then, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”
Stacy (Iconoclast Extraordinaire, Who Shall Forever Love Glenn Close)