When you see the word “runner’s” in front of a body part, it usually means one of two things: You’re injured, or you look hot. But when New Jersey board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Brian S. Glatt says he wants to fix your ‘runner’s face’ he means something else entirely: He says that those of us who run tend to start looking like crypt keepers as we age, thanks to a low body fat percentage and, therefore, a little less fat to plump up our facial tissues and keep us looking young. Cute as his new term may be, he’s not winning any points around here for finding new ways to make athletic women feel ugly.
In a press release today, Dr. Glatt explained the ‘problem’ with athletic women’s faces as they age:
Runner’s Face. And no, I am not referring to the aggressive face an athlete makes prior to crossing that finish line. Runner’s face generally occurs in both men and women ages 40+ who exercise to improve their body, and in doing so end up with a skeletal and bony face. When exercising, an athlete burns off fat beneath the layers of his/her skin. The marked loss of fatty tissue results in a loss of volume which leads to a prominent appearance of the bones, accelerated development of skin laxity and deepening of wrinkles. Though you may look like a 20-year-old from the neck down—your face will easily give away your age.
As if athletic women need yet another reason to feel self-conscious. (See: rumors that weight-lifting will make you too look too buff, and nationally-aired messages that female athletes like Hope Solo should be more feminine.)
The doctor claims he’ll fix our hollow cheeks and wrinkles with a combination of fillers like Botox and Restylane, restoring some youth to our haggard runner’s faces. And honestly, I’m sure plenty of women (athletic or otherwise) are already getting his suggested procedure done; he’s not the first one to point out that staying skinny into older age makes skin sag and wrinkle faster. In fact, his whole press release reminds me of another sabotage on women’s self-confidence made in a chain mail letter passed around comparing British cooking show host and author Nigella Lawson to ‘Karan Diwan.’
The email contained the following photo and text:
Karan Diwan is a 51 year old TV health guru advocating a holistic approach to nutrition and health, promoting exercise, a vegetarian diet of organic fruits and vegetables. She recommends detox diets, colonic irrigation and supplements, also states that yeast is harmful, that the colour of food is nutritionally significant, and the utility of lingual and faecal examination.
Nigella Lawson is a 50 year old TV cook in Great Britain , who eats nothing but meat, butter and desserts.
I rest my case..
The website Chain Mail Bomb points out that the woman in the photo isn’t someone named Karan Diwan (read here for more about who’s really in the photos) but the factual validity of the email is beside the point: To me, the email is just another way to put down women and make our decisions about health, diet and lifestyle even more fraught with concerns over beauty and aging, and Dr. Glatt’s press release is no better.
I don’t think it’s bad for women to care about how they look as they age. I know I do. But as someone who struggles to make healthy choices every day, I also feel that there are way too many people waiting to sabotage my efforts with claims that I’ll somehow make myself less attractive when I do things that are great for my health and self-confidence. Running makes me—and most other people who choose to do it regularly, as I do—feel stronger and happier. And so does eating a diet that doesn’t contain too much butter, dairy or meat. When I feel strong and happy, I also happen to feel a lot more attractive, and I’m not the only one. Studies have shown time and again that women who engage in athletics have higher self-confidence than those who don’t. And same goes for women who exercise or get some kind of physical activity on a regular basis. So slather on some sunscreen, find your favorite anti-aging creams and eat a diet high in anti-oxidants to try and keep yourself looking and feeling great. But don’t stop running or feel like you have to get cosmetic surgery because your healthy habits will somehow make you less pretty. Because I guarantee, there’s someone waiting to tell you that you look fat, old and ugly because you don’t run enough, too.