Looking good when you’re gone

Copyright Annette Marie Hyder


New fashion trend

“The greatest vanity!” the congregator has said, “the greatest vanity! Everything is vanity!”–Ecclesiastes 1:2

Botox used to be exclusively for the rich and famous. Now, it’s as common as hair color touch-ups and spa wraps. A special visit to a waiting-list-only doctor’s office is not required. You can get Botox at your local spa. And now, you can get it at your funeral home too. Yes, Botox is making inroads into your afterlife.

MSNBC reports:

The recent boom in cosmetic procedures has
raised the bar for many of us when it comes to appearance. And, it
turns out, the dead are no exception.

As
the population has become increasingly sophisticated about procedures
to enhance their appearance, so have their requests, morticians say,
for smoothing lines, plumping lips and even boosting sagging parts for
that last big special occasion — their funeral.

“People
used to say, just throw me in a pine box and bury me in the back yard,”
says Mark Duffey, president and CEO of Everest Funeral, a national
funeral planning and concierge service. “But that’s all changing. Now
people want to be remembered. A funeral is their last major event and
they want to look good for it. I’ve even had people say, ‘I want you to
get rid of my wrinkles and make me look younger’.”

Read the whole article and find out: why breast implants must be removed before cremation, the way that many  movie stars don’t want anyone to
see them dead because they can’t control their appearance, and how, as our appearance-conscious culture becomes more attuned to looking
good — even to the grave — advanced mortician skills may become as highly sought
after as those of a Park Avenue plastic surgeon.

Plastic surgeons of the dead

More from MSNBC:

Morticians have always performed a bit of cosmetic magic when it comes
to recapturing the lifelike appearance of a person who’s passed on.
What’s happening now, however, is some people are making advance
arrangements for these final touches and in ways they never used to
even think about.

Dr. Anthony Youn, a Michigan-based plastic surgeon who’s practiced in Beverly Hills, Calif., and appeared on the television show “Dr. 90210.”

“Society is unfortunately getting more and more vain as time goes on,” says Youn. “Fifty years ago, no one would have thought about how good they’re going to look when they die, but now that’s probably something the ‘Real Housewives of Orange County’ talk about. If they die, they want to look good in their casket. It’ll be one last time to show off their new outfit and their plumped lips.”

I don’t agree with Dr. Youn. Fifty years ago people didn’t consider procedures not yet invented, true. But they wanted to be buried in their best clothes. They wanted to look as good as they could. Who is to say they wouldn’t have wanted a little post-vivacity plumping and pampering if it had been available? People have always thought about how they’re going to look when they die.

I think about the elaborate procedures the Egyptians performed in mummifying
their dead and their beautiful funerary art; about the way the death mask was placed
over the mummy head to provide an idealized image of the deceased as a
resurrected being.

Masks of gold are known from pre-Greek Mycenae as early as the 2nd
millennium BC. They were molded in gold leaf on the dead person’s face.
Gold masks were also placed on the faces of the dead kings of Cambodia
and Siam; the mummies of Inca royalty wore golden masks. These golden
masks are thought to have been used to preserve the appearance of the dead and also to preserve the person by magic ritual. The masks enhanced and glamorized the way the person would be remembered.

Getting the princess treatment

So really, all this beautification of the person of the dead is not
new–the fashion in which it is being done is new and so is its availability. You
don’t have to be a princess, anymore, to look good when you’re gone.


Photo courtesy About.com

Burial Mask (Liao Dynasty, 1018 A.D. or earlier). From the tomb of the
Princess Chen and Xiao Shaoju at Qinglongshan Town in Naiman Banner.
Gold. L. 20.5 cm, W. 17.2 cm, Th. 0.05 cm.

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