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Meg Ryan and Kelly McGillis at 50; a cautionary tale

Look at these before and after photographs of Meg Ryan

and Kelly McGillis.

If you’re like me, you think Kelly looks better than Meg. The phrase “aging gracefully” comes to mind.

There are ways of being fifty (or in Meg’s case, almost-but-not-quite 50.) There’s the do-anything-you-can-to-look-younger way, starring a lot of plastic surgery, hair dye, frantic gym time, and multiple dermatological interventions: Botox to erase lines, collagen to plump lips, and Restylane to fill in hollows.

Frankly, this seems like an awful lot of work, with inevitably diminishing returns. Because you’re working so hard to stave off old age … and yet, you just keep continuing to get–and look–older.

Then there’s my approach, which is a lot more laissez-faire. Yes, I dye my hair. I’m pretty rigorous about taking care of my skin. Sure, I think about getting veneers for my teeth and Botox shots for my lines, but I settle for using an occasional whitening strip, and not scowling quite as much.

It’s not that I’m cheap. Or lazy. (Although I’ll admit to being both.) It’s that I refuse to spend all my time and energy trying to reach a goal that will always be out of my reach. Life’s too short for that kind of nonsense.

On top of that, I’m chicken. I’m scared of doctors, and frankly? I’m even more scared of ending up looking like some kind of freak.

That’s the difference between us and Hollywood stars. They start intervening with nature earlier and do it more and oftener than we do. Britney Spears hasn’t seen her actual hair color since she was 17, and at 28, she has been using Botox for years.

I figure I’ve got the rest of my life to become totally high maintenance. In the mean time, Kelly McGillis, who dresses well, wears makeup, but refuses to dye her gray hair, is my role model. How about you?