Recession gives plastic surgeons furrowed brows

One day, as I was flipping through some old pictures of LBJ, I noticed that his wife, Lady Bird, had a discolored front tooth. Rather than be disgusted or repulsed, I was actually kind of impressed. Growing up in a time when image often (always?) trumps depth, it is hard for me to imagine a woman as prominent as Mrs. Johnson refusing to get her tooth capped.

Looking back at pictures from my grandparents' day, I see a similar phenomenon: the images are filled with men and women who are blotchy, overweight, have crooked teeth, or otherwise fail to live up to the beauty ideal of my generation. Part of the reason for this, of course, is the fact that styles have changed; similarly, the beauty industry is constantly developing new technologies for pampering and self-glorification. A few years ago, the idea of injecting a biotoxin into one's skin would have seemed outlandishly repulsive, yet Botox is now a multi-million dollar business.

On the other hand, earlier generations often didn't have the disposable income necessary to support today's massive beauty industry. Expensive plastic surgery was reserved for wealthy people and the victims of disfiguring accidents. For anybody else, it would have been an outrageous extravagance.