Kirstie Clements: The pursuit of beauty can come at a steep cost

An Instagram post from one of the most super supermodels of all time, Linda Evangelista, broke the internet on Thursday when she revealed that she had been left “brutally disfigured” by a cosmetic fat freezing procedure called CoolSculpting.

As a result, she said, she had become a recluse, suffering from a cycle of “deep depression, profound sadness and the lowest depths of self-loathing”.

Fifty-six-year-old Evangelista has launched a lawsuit against the parent company Zeltiq, claiming that she has been left (according to media reports) “unrecognisable” even after two unsuccessful corrective surgeries, which she says explains why she does not have a thriving career now, compared to some of her peers.

The model who once famously joked that she didn’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day now struggles with leaving the house at all because of a botched cosmetic treatment.

It’s a sad and cautionary tale, from an industry that idolises perfection.

Her comment section was flooded with sympathy, with colleagues, fans and strangers telling her she is brave, she is beautiful, she has always been beautiful inside and out, but was that what she always heard as she got older?

How does one of the world’s most iconic beauties handle ageing in an industry that is always onto the next shiny young thing?

For decades, Evangelista was feted for being genetically blessed, it was how she made her living, she was a goddess in the modelling world. She also got older at a time when invasive cosmetic procedures are as commonplace as spray tans, even on very young people.

Some of the current reigning supermodels were completely transformed by significant and multiple cosmetic surgeries before their careers even took off. Highly obvious cosmetic procedures are commonplace, they are literally in fashion. When everybody is doing it, it’s very hard to resist.

Designer Marc Jacobs is proudly showing off his new, and very excellent facelift on social media, and enthusiastically promoting his plastic surgeon.

There is no shame in cosmetic transformation, not in Hollywood, not in the Shire. We have the technology. We all pretend it’s no big deal, having injectables and fillers and fat transfers and eyelifts.

Nothing the tabloids like better than adding a caption that says “She seems to be ageing backwards!” next to an actress who has clearly had significant work done.

We expect, nay, demand perfection and we applaud it. But if you choose to sign up for a cosmetic procedure and it goes wrong, it must feel very lonely. This was something you willingly signed up for, how could you now expect sympathy?

Eighty-one-year-old Kim Novak was bullied mercilessly by the press when she appeared at the Oscars with very extensive and obvious plastic surgery because, sure, while we expect a bit of work, no, apparently she’d gone too far.

It is not an easy path to walk, to be blessed with great beauty and then continue to meet society’s expectations of how you should be ageing. Linda is and was a supermodel, but she’s only human, and a brave one at that.

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