herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

If this is the naked truth, we are a charmless and totally superficial bunch

At the risk of being insufferably pretentious, I'm starting this week's column with a quote from Leonard Cohen, who described how "there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in".

One can be fairly sure that Cohen did not have Irish reality star Layla Flaherty in mind when composing this, but the revelation that the very broken-ness of things is what makes them real is an important one.

On another day, the news that former Celebrity Salon star Layla is a fan of Botox would not have caused too big a stir - not even with her admission that she started jabbing it into her face at the tender age of 25.

bizarre

Sure, Layla has offered up one of the more bizarre defences for cosmetic treatments, claiming "I'm a firm believer in prevention being better than cure", which ignores, of course, the fact that wrinkles are not cancer.

The reason why Layla's revelation is noteworthy, however, is that it is far from isolated, coming hot on the heels of Angela Scanlon's RTE show The Naked Truth, which last week focused on the attitude of young women towards cosmetic procedures.

The show featured a veritable conveyor belt of charmless social media addicts, happily talking up how they don't see anything wrong with cosmetic procedures while all the time suggesting that other, dark forces are to blame.

When asked about labiaplasty, everyone blamed it on the porn industry.

When asked about body image and the constant desire to be thinner, most blamed society, glossy magazines and Instagram. Actually, you name it - everyone but themselves.

Perhaps most disturbing was the contribution of model Rachel Wallace, who got Botox and her lips plumped at the age of 22, followed by a boob job at 23.

The reasons for the former, according to Rachel, is that "literally every girl" she knew was opting to plump up their pout, so she thought, why not?

Which suggests that Rachel should spend a bit less time looking at herself in the mirror, and a bit more looking at the company she keeps.

Commenting on the reaction to her appearance on the show, Rachel said: "I got lots of mails and tweets from people saying I came across well, so I was delighted. It was a massive relief that I didn't say anything to embarrass myself!"

Botox at 22, a boob job at 23 . . . nope, nothing to be embarrassed about there.

witless

Breezily talking about how altering their bodies has given people "confidence", while lobbing in the occasional, token warning about the dangers of becoming obsessed with altering your body, The Naked Truth was a depressing reflection of Irish twenty-somethings and their superficial lives.

Defending cosmetic procedures at a young age, one particularly witless contributor said: "If it makes someone else feel better, more confident, I don't know what the issue is. We only live so long, like, so why not live it to the best?"

Somehow, I think Cohen's poetic insights into life will last a bit longer.

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