09/06/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The "New" Plastic Surgery: In Which Fat Becomes The New Black

All Americans are rich. Even the poorest among us live high on the hog compared to many other countries and 90% of human history. But some of us are certainly richer than others and if you are megatastically wealthy and powerful, how do you showcase it? If you are a man, you buy a beautiful woman. If you are a woman, well, beauty is power.

Previously, women used possessions like luxury cars, clothing and the ubiquitous "it bag" to show that not only could they sport expensively maintained manicures because of a life short on manual labor and long on spare time, but that they had loads of money to spend on seasonally expendable items. But this was not a perfect solution. You have to leave the car parked somewhere and even the cleverest vanity plate can't fix that. Despite tattooing brand logos and names over every conceivable surface, clothing is easily imitated and quickly discarded. Even the gorgeous Birkin bag making the rounds this season gets set on the floor in restrooms.

So what is the solution? Plastic surgery, naturally. Your face, darlings, is your calling card but even the most Sophia Loren among us can't escape aging. New York Magazine's cover story, "The New New Face" by Johnathan van Meter, is all about maintaining your best status symbol. The word on the street now is not "tight" a la Joan Rivers, but "plumped" like a... baby. Because babies are powerful.

As "The New New Face" explains, the face lift has transformed over the past decade. It used to be about pulling and tightening but now is all about - are you ready for this? - fat. In describing the adolescent ideal pursued by today's plastic surgery client, the mag says, "As thin as [teen's] bodies are, they still haven't entirely shed the baby fat in their faces. This, it seems, is what women in their forties and fifties are now after: baby fat." Babies certainly do look young! And they have oodles of fat.

Does this new love of fat seem counterintuitive? When Van Meter interviews Pat Wexler, the "Wizard of Injectables, Queen of Volume, Mother of the New New Face," he points out, "... that making the face bigger or "fatter" seems counterintuitive." To which she answers, "I know, that's why no one was doing it twenty years ago."

"How did you figure it out?" Van Meter asks.

"Because I was doing lipo and I don't like to throw anything away."

Waste not, want not! How very American!

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