Opinion

Bill Brotherton: Saving face

Marie and Donny Osmond playing the Lynn Auditorium. (Owen O'Rourke)

When Marie Osmond arrived on stage at Lynn Auditorium last month, the audience gasped. “Look at her face!” squealed the woman sitting behind me. “She looks like Caitlyn Jenner” countered her friend.

It was obvious the 57-year-old entertainer had “work” done. Whether it was facelift surgery, collagen injections, a shot of Botox, a bee sting allergy or a combination of all the above, only she knows for sure.

And her brother, Donny, age 59, barely looked a day older than he did during his ’90s heartthrob heyday.

I did not mention any of this in my concert review, which praised the duo and their wholesome family-style show. Several readers, however, took me to task for not writing about Marie’s cosmetic “improvements.” Should a critic include such information in a review or should a critic focus on the performance, voice, and presentation?

A similar situation occurred a few weeks later when Sting performed in Boston. The former Police frontman will be 67 years old on Oct. 2, and he’s in remarkable physical shape.

Again, a few readers chided me for failing to point out that “that oldie-but-goodie Sting is one buff dude.”

Have I been wrong all these years? Should a critic get catty and point out that Stephen Stills has ballooned to the size of the Goodyear blimp or that Nick Cave’s hairline has receded to the back of his neck or that a young pop tart suddenly has more front than the Boston Public Library?

In the past, I consciously decided not to comment on such matters. I’m rethinking that philosophy.

The more important question, I suppose, is what would prompt a beautiful 57-year-old woman like Marie Osmond to butcher her face in such a manner? We all know the answer: Women of a certain age (30, and trending younger by the day) face constant pressures to remain youthful and beautiful and thinner. This is true not only in Hollywood, but in business offices and every house on your street.

Curious thing about men. We can be the most vile, insufferable Quasimodo-smuggling-a-keg-in his-belly loser and still think every woman on Earth finds us irresistible. Not so for women. From girlhood, all feel the pressure to be “perfect.” It starts with out-of-proportion Barbie dolls and graduates to manipulated images of wasp-waisted models and rail-thin/big-busted actresses in magazines and on TV.

It doesn’t help that casting directors have no qualms about pairing older actors with much-younger female lovers. This is nothing new, of course; long before Botox and face fillers arrived to beautify America, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart and Humphrey Bogart all romanced considerably younger women in such classic films as “To Catch a Thief,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Casablanca.”

Sadly, even the most self-confident women I know start imagining “flaws” and questioning their attractiveness, doubting their worthiness, putting themselves down and praying for anything that will make them skinnier. They bow to societal pressures fueled by the multi-billion-dollar barrage of dubious advertisements for anti-aging creams, weight-loss programs and tummy-squeezing undergarments. Inner beauty never enters the picture.

Truth be told, it’s those individual “flaws” that make every woman and man uniquely beautiful. It’s not “miracles” from the cosmetics industry, procedures to get rid of “stubborn” fat, or a shot of Botox.

We’d all be sitting pretty — and a lot happier — if we could all accept our unique “flaws.”

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