By Judy Kurtz
Hollywood stars do it, as well as countless Americans trying to improve their appearance — but when it comes to plastic surgery, it appears there’s still shame in lawmakers’ game.
The blogosphere was abuzz earlier this month when Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) appeared to take a dig at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) looks during an exchange with radio host Larry O’Connor.
When O’Connor asked, “So basically, [Speaker] John Boehner [R-Ohio] became Nancy Pelosi without the charm?” Gohmert replied, “For the last two years. Well, let’s give him credit. There’s no facelift with John Boehner. He is who he is.”
Dr. Ayman Hakki, a plastic surgeon and founder of Luxxery Cosmetic Surgery in Washington, says there’s a definite stigma in the nation’s capital about getting nipped and tucked: “I think old D.C. has been like old WASP America. [It] has been very reluctant to embrace even the most minor changes that would be done that would benefit everybody because of a mindset that you can see even in [lawmakers’] clothes, and that is the mindset of secretly wanting to look better, but maintaining a certain pride in looking old and unkempt.”
He adds, “I don’t think it’s in anybody’s benefit to look weathered, but I think there’s a certain ethos that embraces aging gracefully and dressing down.”
Although he admits he has worked his magic on politicians, citing patient privacy, Hakki won’t say whether he’s had any current member of Congress go under the knife. But the nationally recognized surgeon estimates that while very few congressmen have had work done, about half of the female lawmakers have had some kind of cosmetic touchup.
“I have no doubt that the most common procedure amongst members of Congress and the people at large is Botox,” says Hakki.
Dr. Mark Richards, a renowned facelift surgeon at Ageless Impressions Plastic Surgery Institute in Bethesda, Md., grew up in Washington and says cosmetic work being seen as taboo is starting to fade.
“It certainly isn’t like L.A., where if you don’t get plastic surgery you’re the outcast. And if you do get plastic surgery, you go to the parties and brag about it,” says Richards. But, he adds, “In D.C., it’s become accepted.”
Given their countless public appearances, Richards says, the pressure for politicians to look good can be intense. “I think that anybody that’s in the public spotlight, whether they’re news anchors or politicians, always getting photographed, they get very self-conscious when they start looking less than energetic and youthful and pertinent.”
Richards, who says on his website that he performed the facelift revision surgery on former White House employee Linda Tripp (of Monica Lewinsky scandal-era fame), won’t reveal who in Congress might have come to him for help. He tells ITK with a big laugh, “I’ve seen lots of people. Lots of people.”