Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Bone to Pick With Dr. Oz

Not that I believe everything I see or hear on TV, but Dr. Mehmet Oz comes with some pretty hefty credentials. Aside from being Oprah-approved, he's the vice-chair and professor of surgery at Columbia University. In case we didn't know that, he wears hospital scrubs on his wildly successful nationally-syndicated talk show.

So when Dr. Oz, as opposed to Rachael Ray, recommends anti-aging skin care techniques, I sit up and listen. What is the new wonder vitamin or food that will keep me glowing?

Which is why I have a bone, the ulna let's say, to pick with what happened on his show yesterday. After scaring the crap out of me with digitized images of how a dewy young woman eventually morphs into the Wicked Witch of Middle Age, he called upon a dermatologist (female, in her 50s, so relatable) to run through the top three tips to younger looking skin. The first two were no brainers--sunscreen and moisturizer. The third pissed me off.

The skin doctor, who clearly avails herself of her own services, noted that while plastic surgery isn't for everyone, guess what is? Fillers! These injections of collagen, or whatever, were placed alongside Oil of Olay as a tool every woman should have in her arsenal to "age gracefully."

Um, no. Fillers are a cosmetic, not medical, treatment. While I would argue that women have as much right to them as men have to Viagra (essentially both treatments deal with self esteem, not health, issues), the insurance industry doesn't agree. If you want fillers--which, in my opinion, make most women look like someone took a bicycle pump to their cheeks--you're going to have to shell out thousands of your own dollars to pay for ongoing injections.

I imagine surgeons, along with other rich people, don't view thousands of dollars as a significant expense, which is why Dr. Oz didn't blink when the subject of fillers was raised. He probably knows lots of people (ie, colleagues' wives) who routinely plump their faces. But that kind of money is a big deal to me, pretty much everyone I know, and I'm guessing the vast majority of Dr. Oz's viewers. Which leaves us poor folk (read, the middle class) with two rock-and-a-hard-place choices: 1) go broke trying to turn back the clock or 2) look old. It says much about the times we live in when bankruptcy is preferable to wrinkles.

I'm not holding Dr. Oz accountable for our youth- and celebrity-obsessed culture. For that I blame "Access Hollywood." Here's my problem with Dr. Oz: Much of his show is built around busting myths. The other day, for example, he floored me with the information that the female bladder is no smaller than the male's--contrary to evidence presented in lines at public restrooms--with actual bladders as props to prove his point. But in allowing the dermatologist to talk about fillers, he legitimized their use as a viable component of an everyday skin care regimen, which they're not. That's a huge disservice to viewers, who come to him for their daily dose of common sense.

Here's the vicious cycle he's promoting: Wealthy celebrities--who can afford fillers, surgery and soft-focus lighting--are held up as the beauty standard for all of us women who can't. (To say nothing of their personal chefs, personal trainers and personal hair and make-up artists.) Yes, if you're Demi Moore, 50 certainly is the new 30. If you're Jane Smith, elementary school teacher or administrative assistant, not so much. Yet poor Jane will compare herself to and be compared with Demi and found lacking.

I expect this kind of crap from the women of "The View," who are out and proud when it comes to extolling the virtuies of Botox, never mind that they're all paid seven-figure salaries. I don't expect it from Dr. Oz. If you're going to provide straight talk about bladders, you should do the same about wrinkles. And the truth about wrinkles is that most of us are stuck with them.

I'm furrowing my brow as I type. You know how I combat those crevices? Bangs.


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