Lauren Hutton on plastic surgery: ‘There are people I find hard to look at’

I have only ever known a world in which Lauren Hutton was a supermodel. She got her start in New York in the 60s, secured a Revlon contract in the 70s, became an actress and returned to modeling by the 90s. On paper, Lauren’s description reads: blonde, blue-eyed, long-legged every woman. In reality, she has an iconic look that includes a tooth gap and an intensity in her stare that feels like it’s coming through the page. I’ve never tired of looking at her. So it doesn’t surprise me at all that she’s still modeling at the age of 78. She’s a master of her craft. I was interested to find out that her secret to maintaining the public’s interest was to decide at the age of 40 to not try to look younger. Presumably, that means that Lauren has not had any procedures along the way, which can’t be said for all her peers. Lauren said she finds some overly tweaked faces hard to look at and some she doesn’t even recognize.

On protecting herself early on: in 1973, I read about Catfish Hunter; he was a baseball player who refused to play without a contract. He said he was in a youth-oriented business—and at that time, the modeling world wasn’t any different. I was about to become 30, and I knew I was about to expire, and wanted to protect myself with a contract that would guarantee I kept working for years to come. So I got a contract with Revlon. At the time, it was the biggest one in modeling history.

On aging in front of us: I decided to get into acting, but in my mid-40s I decided to go back into modeling because I was making one bad movie after another. I couldn’t stand watching them. So then I started shooting with Steven Meisel, and I told him, “I’m not going to try and look younger,” and he said, “I love that. That’s why I am working with you.”

On plastic surgery: When it comes to cosmetic procedures, there’s a real thin line you tread. There are people who I find hard to look at today. Their faces don’t look like the people I once knew.

On her bedtime routine: I don’t spend a lot of time on skin care. I’m usually in a rush to get to bed and make love or read. (Right now, I’m reading Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay.) The only beauty ritual I have is washing my face with soap and water. It’s horrifying. Then I’ll put on the StriVectin S.T.A.R. Light Retinol Night Oil. It does really good things for your skin. I also have an aloe plant. I cut the leaves open, and I put it all over my face and décolletage.

[From Harper’s Bazaar]

“I’m usually in a rush to get to bed and make love or read,” Oh gawd, me too, Lauren. Me too. Except maybe not so much to make love or read and more to fall into my pillow from exhaustion or some body part hurts for no known reason – but same-ish. In addition to the night routine she mentioned, Lauren puts castor oil on her fingertips and rubs it all over her scalp. She uses Briogeo. It makes her hair less dry. I’d be surprised if she’s still a natural blonde at 78. If she’s treating her hair and she keeps it from drying out with castor oil, I’m in.

As for the plastic surgery, if the person wearing the face is happy, I guess I remain unbothered by it. I love looking at Lauren’s face and seeing a life lived on it. Same when I look at my mother. But I also see the confidence with which they wear their lines. If they were miserable every time they looked in the mirror, I’d rather see them content than lined. The best advice Lauren gives here is about securing her Revlon contract. She read the writing on the wall and protected herself, which allowed her to dictate her career on her terms, lines and all. And she earns it. She never phones it in for work, she’s still one of the best out there. I had no idea she got the inspiration from Catfish Hunter. I love that tidbit about her.

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18 Responses to “Lauren Hutton on plastic surgery: ‘There are people I find hard to look at’”

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  1. Lou says:

    Target the system that constantly shames and devalues women for aging, not the individuals trying to exist under that oppression.

    • Kitten says:

      Eh. She exists under that oppression as well and has managed not to become a victim of it. I think she’s earned the right to have an opinion about it.

      • Jo says:

        I agree. If anyone can say anything it’s her. She’s made her own decisions and seen what it is from the inside. She’s also from another era, with different patriarchal forms of oppression (no contracts being one of of them).
        And to be a bit cynical, she is also defending her own stance and non-altered looks, which are still her way of making money.
        For celebs in general, especially in the US it is increasingly hard to look say, like Kelly Clarkson. And for models, I believe it may be a real issue, whether to go under the knife or not if artificial becomes the norm. Even Bundchen, who always refused to have a nose job, succumbed to invasive surgery or at least a strong tweak.
        I think Moss is the only one who stuck to the Diet Coke and cigs method.

      • Lou says:

        I’d argue that all are victims of the system. She still is oppressed by the pressure and judgment women face to make a choice: age naturally (the “moral” choice) or give your time, money and energy to fight it (the “vain” choice). I’d also argue she’s enjoyed a lifetime of validation from society in regards to her appearance that gives her confidence to defy societal expectations. Others with less privilege may not feel empowered to make the same choice. Rather than commenting on her friends’ faces (just what they need more of, judgment!) she’d be better off discussing how much vested interest our capitalist society has in profiting off of women feeling bad about themselves and how much value it places on women’s looks.

      • Jo says:

        Hi @Lou you make good points. And a while ago I would have agreed with you. But although you use inverted comas, you still attach different values to natural or artificially enhanced beauty. The point here is that if artificial beauty becomes the norm, it is not only a feminist issue but also a class issue ( an accessibility issue, or, to put it plainly, money and resources) and the limits of agency seen intersectionnally and not only from a patriarchal power against powerless victims. Personally I am a bit tired of being told I have no agency. I do not want to tell that to my daughter and my boys. I want to talk to them about what it takes to develop a personal choice, at times against prevailing systems – yes, it is important to talk about them – (and there are so many of them according to gender, ethnicity, citizen status etc). And to me Hutton seems like, in her own context and with her own limitations – a good experience to listen to. Like many say below, she was not your typical desirable woman, she was deemed too fat, too demanding, too gap-toothed etc. And yet here she is being that good friend who tells you the truth rather than enabling you (which I am sure Aniston did with Cox in private at some point). Sometimes it is good to hear harsh truths. And you are absolutely free to disagree. She was not rude or flippant. It is true that you don’t recognise certain people, I certainly don’t. Captions at times are everything,

  2. North of Boston says:

    She says wise words.

    And sadly, RE the thin line people walk when they decide to try to surgically maintain a youthful look: they are not controlling the outcome. Enough people with plastic surgery look so drastically unlike themselves after surgery and/or so much the same as others post surgery that I wonder if the surgeons are pushing things further, doing more than what was asked because they think they know better, because they can, because their own sense of what a human face looks like has been warped.

    Yes it’s silly really tv, but I’ve seen enough episodes of Botch where patients come in saying “I asked for a little tweak/uplift, but the doctor gave me these giant jugs/ giant lips/ stretched face/balloon butt etc” to think it’s absolutely a thing some doctors do, even ones with a good reputation.

    • Sadie says:

      I do feel like by being exposed to more altered faces, it is shifting our perception of beauty. I am off Instagram and Facebook, and that has really helped me live back in the “real world.” I do see a few Instagram-looking women out and about, and it’s a little shocking to see the amount of makeup and “fakeness” involved.
      I love Lauren; she still looks like herself, and I am trying to age in the same way. 51F and no interventions to face or body. Doing the best I can to stay healthy and attractive naturally. I’m sure many would have told me I should get a nose job and boob job, as one is “too big” and the others “too small.” But all those things make me “me.” And I’m not changing or altering myself for anyone. I find beauty in the imperfect.

  3. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    78?????? No, no way!!! I remember when she first came out. There was all this “if she would just fix that gap in her teeth lose more weight, she’s too fat, she needs to be more blonde, blah blah blah”
    I love that she stood her ground and said “this is me, deal with it” and still to this day holds that line

  4. FHMom says:

    She sounds wise. I never liked her looks until she was over 40 because in my young mind, she wasn’t perfect looking. Now it’s an advantage. My favorite model back then was Lisa Taylor and the Estée Lauder model Karen something who should have been a household name but wasn’t.

    Re: Catfish Hunter. He came to our town library for a personal appearance after he signed with the Yankees. I’m sure his appearance fee was limited by time, but he stayed and signed a photo or paper for every single kid there. I became a huge fan after that.

    • Truthiness says:

      Karen Graham. Georgeous. I’d rather see Lauren Hutton, Paulina, Beverly Johnson or Christy Turlington modeling today instead of the nepotism models. There ought to be a huge market for it.

  5. Merricat says:

    I love her face, her style, her attitude.

  6. AC says:

    She looks great! Madonna is somebody that I no longer recognize! So, I feel her on people you can’t look at anymore.

  7. Luna17 says:

    I’ve always found her such a refreshing beauty. I agree with the surgery. I know I should say people should do whatever makes them happy but seeing women now look like kardashian knock offs breaks my heart. It’s so common now to get the fillers and injections and often it’s takes away all uniqueness from a face and it’s just sad to me. The older I get the more beautiful I find in women who aren’t afraid of wrinkles and gray hairs. Also my SIL works for a huge med spa in Dallas and these places are making unreal amounts of money off women and telling them they are empowering them. It’s all about the money IMO.

  8. Delphine says:

    I met her once on the sidewalk outside my apartment when I lived in NYC in 2001. I was majorly starstruck. I love her so much.

  9. TeamMeg says:

    @Hecate, you always post such interesting pieces for “les femmes d’un certain age.” Thank you! I remember staring at Lauren Hutton photos back in the 70’s, too. One iconic black and white image—in an open button-down shirt, probably Meisel—seared into memory.

    I love that Lauren (like Paulina) made the choice to age naturally. I’m with her. And I disagree that in today’s culture, only the ultra beautiful have the privilege to forego cosmetic procedures. Bone structure notwithstanding, BEAUTY IS ON THE INSIDE—it really is. Inner beauty shines forth from even the most gnarled and wrinkled visage, provided it is present. What is inner beauty? Kindness. Generosity. Humility. The beautiful character traits we read about in Victorian novels and fairy tales.

    Aging happens. No shame in a lined face, just as there is no shame in going under the knife, if lifts and fillers are one’s choice. But we really do have the power to make a different choice. Women are far more than victims of an oppressive system. No one need take the Madonna or Nicole Kidman route, regardless of profession. It is a choice, not an obligation

    If we want to change the system, the place to start is with ourselves. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” is more than a cliché. It’s how transformation begins.

  10. Eggbert says:

    It is hard to look at faces that have been overworked and don’t move especially if it’s an actor/actress. It becomes so distracting for me I can’t enjoy the movie/TV show. Sorry Courtney Cox.

    • Lila says:

      It’s so true! It’s eerie looking. I loved So You Think You Can Dance, but it was so distracting watching Mary Murphy screaming and the entire top half of her face not moving at all.

  11. Emma says:

    Edna St. Vincent Millay! Great book recommendation.

    “Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare”