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Actress, Loretta Young

This week I caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages. Our oddball conversation ran the gamut from museums in London to jockstraps for the chin and the increase in gallbladder removals. It was an unusual conversation, to be sure, and no… Alcohol was not involved.

I’m guessing you want me to start with jockstraps for the chin? 

My friend is in “the beauty business” which led us to talk about aging. Both of us are old enough to remember actress, Loretta Young. In the 1940’s, Ms. Young was one of Hollywood’s most beautiful actresses, a woman with genuine grace and class. Loretta Young co-starred in over 100 films with leading men like Cary Grant, William Holden and Clark Gable—the secret father of her daughter—and Loretta won an Academy Award for her performance in The Farmer’s Daughter. From 1953 to 1961, she was one of the few well-known female stars on television where she hosted, and sometimes acted in, The Loretta Young Show which earned her three Emmy awards.

The show’s trademark was her dramatic, sweeping entrance through a glamorous set of doors, and she was always dressed in a gorgeous gown. 

When I think of all the women I’ve known or seen photographs of, Loretta Young is the queen of aging well. She remained beautiful well into her 80’s, without any signs of a nip or tuck; so beautiful, in fact, it made you wonder if she had a painting of herself in a closet somewhere, growing old and decrepit while she stayed young and flawless. Even though some of her contemporaries had facelifts, plastic surgery wasn’t commonplace for her generation. However countless times, growing up, I read in the “movie star magazines” (so it must be true) that Loretta Young designed, and had made, an anti-gravity mask that held her entire face in place. Allegedly, when she wasn’t in public, she would place her chin in the bottom of the mask, bring the sides up tightly on either side of her face and tie the ends on top of her head. Supposedly Loretta wore it day and night to prevent her face from sagging and developing jowls and turkey neck. While the idea has merit—like wearing retainers on your teeth—I’ve searched online and have found no evidence of such a mask. 

My friend and I decided this is something the Kardashians could market. They could call it “Silence of the Jowls.”

From the ageless Loretta Young my friend changed the subject to gallbladders. Because of a persistent pain in her abdomen my friend’s doctor told her she needed her gallbladder removed although tests showed no evidence of gallstones. In November she went ahead and had the surgery, but it’s created even more problems. Some days she can’t hold any food down, and now she’s painfully thin. Her job brings her in contact with lots of women, and a high percentage of them have similar post surgical gallbladder stories.

One client told her that “gallbladder removal is the new hysterectomy.” 

Another one of her clients said everyone in her husband’s office has had gallbladder surgery. When I checked online I saw a reference to “a big bump in the number of gallbladder removal operations in the United States.” Could it be that because laparoscopic procedures have lessened recovery time, this is the new surgery du jour? Or could they be a result of the high-fat American diet, which contributes to our bile becoming over-saturated, causing gallstones to form? BTW… My friend has always had the best diet of anyone I know. Anyone!

She then mentioned she no longer has all of her half moons, the little white arches at the base of the cuticles and that it’s a sign we may have poor circulation and/or a dozen other maladies. With so many women wearing polish and acrylic nails, I bet it’s been a blue moon since most of us have even thought about our little half moons.

I should have “silenced my jowls” earlier, because now I’ve run out of time to tell you about the museums in London… and don’t even ask what got me started on Loretta Young!

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30 thoughts on “SILENCE OF THE JOWLS”

  1. This is so great. I would wear a jowl retainer in a minute. I work from home. Why not. Ever since I was pregnant, which now dates back quite a long time, I have favored sleeping on my left side. Now I can see the effects–gravity has pulled one side of my face more than the other, and the left side has deeper wrinkles. I read somewhere long ago that fancy plastic surgeons train themselves to sleep on their backs, to avoid creases. I considered making one of those contraptions you use for babies to keep them from rolling onto their stomachs–a long cushion along each side, attached by a blanket that you lay the baby on and that holds the cushions in place.
    Kitty Carlisle is another one who was well-preserved. She credited Nivea cream, which I promptly adopted. But it made my skin break out, which kind of ruins any progress on the wrinkle front.
    Re gallbladder surgery, if you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. If you have laparoscopic surgical tools, you will find ways to use them. That said, people are eating way too much fat–most gallstones are cholesterol. And your friend didn’t even have gallstones! Makes you wonder why they insisted on operating.

    • TOF, Brilliant response… “If you have a hammer everything looks like a nail.” So true except many of us don’t recognize that, or we don’t do our homework and as a result, we get nailed. Of all the people to have gallbladder surgery… My friend was the last person you’d expect, plus she reads and researches everything before proceeding so this came as a surprise even to her. I’ve also heard about sleeping on your back but a girlfriend cured me of that. We’d gone to San Miguel, and it was the first time since high school we’ve shared a bed. The next thing I know she’s next to me, on her knees, beating me with a pillow and saying, “Shut up! You’re as bad as Terry!” It seems as though I snore when I sleep on my back… like a chainsaw. While I thought it was amusing, now when we travel together, she makes sure we have separate rooms! xoxox, Brenda

  2. I had forg9tten ab9ut Loretta Young. I used to watch her show years ago. I had never heard the story of her face mask very interesting. I have noticed over time my jowls look like my grandmothers.

    • Victoria, If only I was starting to look like my grandmother. She stayed in great shape, but no. I see my mother when I look in the mirror. I love your cute cat eye mask in your avatar. We just need one that also holds up the bottom part of our face! xoxox, Brenda

  3. I used to sweep into a room like Loretta Young and then make the connection and no one in the room knew who I was talking about. I would love to know what to do about jowls outside of surgery, because in the last year the area under my chin lost all its firmness and it just fell! I am hoping losing weight will help some, but I now look like my mom…sigh. PS so fabulous getting to talk to you…you are fabulous!

    • Donna, I love that you did that! You have some drama and humor there. I’m sorry they missed it and didn’t appreciate it. Losing weight makes our jowls worse. My grandmother always said when a woman reached a certain age she could have her face or her fanny, but she couldn’t have both. Unfortunately she was right! I’m glad I got to talk with you as well! Thank you! xoxo, Brenda

  4. You are adorable and make us all wish we were sitting there with you and your friend! My jowls are looking like my mother and grandmothers’. Even so, I have great genes and am thankful! Wish I had en anti-gravity mask! And I had my gallbladder out unexpectedly one Christmas Eve. Just glad I didn’t recognize the gallbladder attack for what it was when we were in Kazakhstan!

    • Beckye, You’re sweet! Thank you! You had your gallbladder out? Hallelujah you didn’t know what it was when you were so far from home where I imagine hospital facilities aren’t up to our standards. That would have been frightening for sure! God was watching over you. It’s really not too late to wear an anti-gravity mask if we had one. Think about it… You know things are going to continue to… slide:) xoxox, Brenda

  5. I remember watching the movie Mommie Dearest about 30 years ago, the child abuse story of the children adopted by Joan Crawford, and in that, it was portrayed that Joan Crawford slept with a chin holder, so the idea was not new to me. But I doubt it would really help? Sleeping on the back definitely does help, but try doing that and not snoring which results in a bad night’s sleep for more than one’s self. Also, ever noticed how we are all older more on one side? Reckon that’s your driving side? I do. 50+ sunscreen is my new go-to ageing defence whether I’m walking the dog or running shopping errands. I do live in Australia, so we are known for savage UV. Thanks for the heads up on the gall bladder trend. It is the same with arthroscopy on the cartilage of the knees – researchers now say to avoid knee surgery unless you really need it. I tore my medial meniscus last year in a skiing fall, and was told I needed surgery. It took at least 9 weeks of physio, and adherence to doing the exercises at home, but I have made a full recovery with no surgery. This will be tested in about 10 days time when I (gently) hit the slopes of Niseko again! Best to all , love the articles, love the comments! Xxxxxx

    • TJ, I read your awesome comment earlier in the day and then ran out to forage for food. On the way, I thought about what you said… That we’re probably older on the driving side of our face. I imagine that’s true. It would be interesting to have a dermatologist hold one of their blue lights up to our face and check that. Then again, maybe we don’t want to know. Holding off on surgery applies to a lot of things. My late husband was an attorney who’d handled lots of malpractice suits against doctors who’d made their patients worse by performing back surgery. Several times I’ve thought I would wind up with back surgery, but I keep stretching, doing yoga, getting deep tissue massages and sometimes physical therapy and everything goes back to normal. I have a friend who turns to surgery for the least little thing with no fear or thought that she shouldn’t. I’m not sure whether she’s brave or hasn’t thought of what could go wrong. Good luck to you in Niseko! Where is that? Stay safe! xoxox, Brenda

  6. I work for a surgeon who does laparoscopic cholecystectomies (gall bladder removals) all the time. Prime candidates are the Four “F”s – female, fat, fair and forty – and there are a lot of large women who end up having it done. Maybe there’s more of them these days because there are more fat women? It’s a big op but the ones who have it done are usually in a lot of pain and quite ill – the op really helps them, but there’s always exceptions to the rule I guess (and I wouldn’t be rushing into having one!) Now as for a jockey strap for the jowls – maybe I could get on board with that idea!

    • Leanne, There’s even a name for the prime gallbladder surgical candidates? Interesting! People who are overweight are setting themselves up for so many health problems. So many nurses are overweight. I sometimes wonder how doctors can tell us to practice good eating habits when their own nurses are obese? Although refusing to hire someone because of their weight would be violating a number of employment discrimination laws. Jock straps for the jowls! I think we’re all on board with that one! Thanks so much for “weighing in” with this fascinating comment. xoxox, Brenda

  7. I have a painting from Young’s estate sale which is kind of cool. As far as jowl issue, I think sleeping on your back helps retain a bit of extra firmness. You sure don’t want to give gravity a boost by keeping your face down and help loosen the muscles. Seventy has proved more challenging the rhe skin department all over. The arm skin, leg skin, seems to be the latest harbor for all things crepe. Any year, even thisnis better than alternative.

    • Hi Taylor, This year I hit the seven-zero mark. Until last weekend I thought my legs were in great shape. I was even thinking about taking a photo of me in a bathing suit until I stood under an obnoxious bright light and got a different view of my legs. Yee-gads! I have creepy old lady thighs! Until that rude awakening I thought it was only the inner sides of my upper arms that were subject to that horrible blight. I was shocked… depressed! How could I have been so wrong? Perhaps I should just stay in my bathroom… The mirrors there are my friends! So interesting you have a painting owned by Loretta Young. What does it look like? Thanks so much for reading and leaving me a comment! I appreciate you! Brenda

  8. I have often thought that using something to hold up my face would help. Something to lift from behind my ears! Sleeping on my side does not help. Does anything other than surgery work? The Plasma Pen is the latest big thing here and I know someone who has had a thread lift which looks great! I am too scared! Think it is your face or figure but fanny makes sense too.

  9. Hi Hilda, Gravity is one of the strongest forces in the universe so our poor face doesn’t stand a chance against it on its own. I don’t know of anything other than a facelift that works, and that’s a risky thing… What if it doesn’t turn out right, and you have no choice but to live with the results? From my supermodel friends and those who are the top experts in the beauty biz in NYC, I’ve heard negative things about Thread Lifts. I googled the term and see it was a popular alternative to a facelift in 2011, but now very few board certified plastic surgeons recommend it to their patients. Check back with your friend in a couple of years and see if she’s still happy. If you’re interested, here’s a link. xoxox, Brenda

  10. What didn’t I learn from this post and your commenters? I remembered Loretta Young, I couldn’t find anything on the jowl mask online, either (you made me look!), I found out about her love child with Clark Gable (who knew? I didn’t), and I got to thinking about the women I knew who had gall bladder surgery. Thread lifts. Aging on the driving side of your face. Wowza. I have nothing to add except that I avoided back surgery because of a physician’s assistant who told me these surgeries don’t usually work, and recommended deep tissue massage. And my massage therapist is really big on stretching (or yoga, if one prefers). I don’t do it enough, though, and boy do I pay the price.

    • Alana, LOL! We have covered a lot of ground here, haven’t we? STRETCHING…. !!!! This may be one of the keys to health and long life! I used to stretch every day, multiple times a day, but since I moved back to the city three years ago, I don’t do it as much and my back and knees are paying the price. I do get regular deep tissue massages which bust up all those knots where our muscles and nerves are bundled together and cause us such pain. If people would just stretch and get deep tissue massage, I think the percentage of back surgeries–so many are unsuccessful and make matters worse–would drop-off drastically. xoxox, Brenda

  11. Oh Brenda, what a delicious post! I confess… I have been secretly (not secretly) searching for a lower gravity planet for my sorrowfully southward sagging bodacious boobs. However, in lieu of my still-undiscovered low-grav celestial body, I purchase uber-expensive impeccably engineered (for hydraulic lift?) French or Belgian bras — thank you, Intimacy — and disconsolate of late regarding the exuberance with which my jowls and neck seem determined to follow the lead of all assorted dragging personal parts, perhaps tbe French or Belgians are already marketing their version of the “Young” Jowel-Jaw-Jock Strap?

    As for the gorgeous and talented Ms. Young herself, I have long been a fan.

    By the way, my own gallbladder went bye-bye shortly after the birth of my second son. Pregnancy gave me gallstones (the attacks were awful, and nothing could be done until after I gave birth). That was 24 yeats ago. No ill effects. Lucky on that score, perhaps?

    Delightful chatting. But I must run… Need to rummage around for a scarf or bandage to wrap my face in a famciful (forceful) upwards sweep in hommage to lovely Loretta. (Hope springs eternal?) As for the the bountiful breasts falling toward Florida? A lost cause at this point, lest I locate my persnickety planet that has thus far eluded me.

    • Ms Wolf, A scarf under our chin, tied on top of our head is what they used to do for toothaches way-y-y-y back in the day! Too bad there’s nothing fashionable or attractive about it. And hydraulic lift bras… Have you ever heard of the “cantilevered” underwire bra Howard Hughes built for bodacious actress Jane Russell in the early 1940’s? He was an engineer and he had curved steel rods sewn under each cup and then attached them to the shoulder straps. The breasts could be pulled upward… What a contraption! No thank you! xoxo, Brenda

  12. Dooooo forgive the previous typos please. Tap-tap-tapping on a teeny-tiny screen. (My lovely laptop is a tad heavy. Haven’t attempted to unearth it (yet) today.) Might Loretta have a nifty quick fix for one and a half frozen shoulders? (Sigh) Ah… aging. It’s an intersting adventure…

  13. Brenda…I watched a TV show recently regarding the lengths women go to in South Korea to keep their skin/facial muscles in shape…at one salon they used elastic bands just like an elastic exercise band to give one woman’s face ‘a workout’ – there was a lot of focus on the jowls. That particular client went on to say that said she pops into the salon three nights a week after work and once on the weekend for said treatment! Apparently women there also tape up their faces the same way you and I might get taped up by our physiotherapist if we have a muscle injury. Having seen a lot of South Korean in Singapore recently, I can say that their skin is rather incredible – but for the cost/effort – so it should be! Essie xx

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