habitual expressions

I’m not pointing the finger at anyone who has cosmetic surgery, but I did hear one reason why maybe it’s not such a great idea. It came from George Orwell, who once remarked, “After the age of forty, a man is responsible for his face.”

In other words, if you’re young, whether you’re good-looking or not is just the luck of the draw.

But as you get older, your face begins to show the world what sort of person you are because whatever your habitual expressions are—kind, cheerful, mournful, embittered—they start etching themselves on to your face. So then, your face starts telling people what sort of a human you are.

Allowing this to happen may be what people mean by the phrase “growing old gracefully.”

So if you’re beautiful as you get older, it’s not a free gift. It’s because your face shows qualities that are timeless and that we all admire: strength, kindness, dedication, wisdom, enthusiasm and humor, intelligence, compassion. Now those faces are achievements.

“Part Three: Beauty.” Hosted by John Cleese. The Human Face. BBC. 21 Mar. 2001.


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