Ageism is one of the industry’s final frontiers, says Christie Brinkley
"So many women start to feel invisible, and no one should feel invisible."
Christie Brinkley is happy to tell you about her cosmetic work. The 64-year-old model recently became the spokeswoman for Xeomin and Ultherapy, two non-surgical anti-aging treatments created by the pharmaceutical company Merz, which Brinkley says she uses and loves. (For the uninitiated, Xeomin is an injectable botulinum toxin, like Botox, while Ultherapy is a non-invasive ultrasound technology used to tighten skin by stimulating the production of elastin and collagen.)
“We need to change the terminology so women don’t feel like they need to sneak in the back door [of a doctor’s office] and get a ‘beauty secret,’ but instead are just be able to share with their friends that they tried something and they liked it,” she says. “It’s not a secret, it’s a tell!”
At a panel at the Avra Madison restaurant near Manhattan’s Central Park, Brinkley and her co-panelists, cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Pat Wexler and lawyer Debbie White, spoke about the importance of feeling your best at any age and de-stigmatizing the cosmetic procedures that many women choose to undergo. As Brinkley told me afterwards, “ageism is one of the final frontiers” in the fashion and beauty worlds.
Below, Brinkley discusses her decision to become a spokeswoman for Xeomin and Ultherapy, her philosophy of aging, and why it’s important for her industry to embrace older women.
On why it’s important for women to speak openly about treatments they have received:
I feel like the modern woman should know what’s available to her so she can feel her very best at any given time. When my mom was a young woman they had to sneak around to get their hair coloured. It was like…does she or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure! That was the ad! You were supposed to go get your hair colored and then pretend it was nothing.
When fillers and neurotoxins came on the scene, the doctors offices were set up to sneak in the back door and sneak out the front door, and everybody was supposed to pretend like nothing was going on. And it’s like: why? It’s your face! You should be able to do what you want with it, including getting withered and old if that’s what you like.
It would be a crying shame for Georgia O’Keefe to have had any kind of toxin in her face because she was magnificently beautiful with those weathered lines. That was her, that suited her beautifully. Some girls, however, may be born with scowl lines so deep that the first thing that comes out of everyone’s mouth is “What’s wrong? Are you okay? You look tired.” And she may feeling, in her own heart, like, “Damn, I wish I didn’t always look like I’m worried.” The moment it starts to bother you, if it bothers you, and there’s something that can be done, I don’t think you should be made to feel ashamed that you want to put your best face forward and to feel like you look as good as you feel.
On why she chooses to get Ultherapy and Xeomin:
When I first did it, I loved it. I thought, “Wow, this is amazing, this is like telling my body to behave younger, to create collagen, to create elastin.” Who doesn’t want that? My whole routine, my skincare, is about creating collagen and elastic, and so is my makeup. That’s what I like for me. So I was like, yeah, I’ll tell other women about this. The beauty of Ultherapy is that you start looking younger and younger for six months following the treatment. It’s going to build more collagen and more elastin over time. By two weeks you’ll start to look a little more rested, by three months you’re going to look really good, and that’s what I found. The first thing that the press did was make it sound like, “Christie’s been caught doing something and now we’re revealing it, her secret is out!” It’s like, no, I’m not revealing, I’m sharing!
Smart✔️Successful✔️Confident✔️Motivated✔️Passionate✔️theses bosses check all the boxes , and I had so much fun sharing the stage with all of you today for the Merz Women’s Empowerment luncheon. Thank you Randy Zuckerberg Debbie White and Dr. Patricia Wexler for making it so interesting, and so much fun! #girlboss #getitdone #girlpower #womensupportingwomen #thesisterhood
On how there’s no one-size fits all approach to beauty:
Somebody was saying to me recently “I love your crow’s feet,” and I said, “Thank you, I call them laugh lines.” It’s a choice. I happen to like my laugh lines so I’ve chosen to keep them. I don’t want it to put pressure on women to feel like we’ve got all this stuff now and they need to look perfect. It’s not about that at all. It’s about being able to look the way you feel. And you could have lots of wrinkles and feel great and look. It has to do with you personally. I think it’s really an exciting time for me, because I’m thrilled that science keeps coming up with little things to tweak it. I feel very fortunate that this is the time that I’m in, because I’m able to maintain a career.
On the advice she gives to her daughters:
I think that there’s been a whole movement about celebrating the individual and taking a lot of that stress to be so-called ‘perfect’ off. I think when you’re younger, there’s a tendency to want to strive to be perfect in some way or to live up to expectations, and that’s one of the things I always say to my girls, is: “You guys, there is no them — these people in your mind, the idea that this group looking over at you, that doesn’t exist. It’s you, and your personal comfort zone. You have to adjust to you. Be you. Don’t let this external pressure mould you.”
On whether she would let her daughters get fillers or plastic surgery:
I mean, my daughters are so beautiful. It’s hard to say. Although Alexa did tweak her nose, and that was something she thought about for years. It was important to her, and she did the tiniest little thing, and it made such a difference in her confidence. I just want every woman to feel their very best. Nobody’s twisting their arm. If by sharing my experience, another woman can look at herself and go out and do what really matters in her life, instead of fretting over something that’s really bothering her, then I think that’s a beautiful thing.
On how she would like to see the fashion industry embrace older women:
I think they should try and take off some of the labels. You know, [magazines] constantly open an article with my age. [Ed note: Guilty.] I understand, because I have been in this business for so many years, and I’m generally speaking to share beauty tips and advice, that it’s relevant. But when I’m doing things like speaking before the United Nations, what does my age have to do with that? It doesn’t, That’s a little personal pet peeve of mine. I do think ageism is one of the final frontiers, you don’t really see much championing [of older women]. They don’t understand so many women start to feel invisible, and no one should feel invisible. I think that the magazines are making more strides, but it usually is sort of the token older person here or there, it’s not the norm. But I think on the whole, our industry really should be applauded. I’m seeing so many changes happening so quickly now. I feel that embracing diversity has been the most exciting change that I’ve seen happening.