“No offense ladies—I don’t know how old any of you are—but Jessica Alba looks five years younger than all of you,” she says glancing around the group, pausing on each of our faces just long enough, it seems, to confirm her acerbic assessment.
Jessica Alba looking flawless in Italy this summer
It’s early evening and I’m standing on the back lawn of an art gallery with three other women, all of us in our mid twenties to early thirties and all balancing the fuchsia-colored cocktail du jour between our manicured index finger and thumb.
The speaker was telling the group about her recent honeymoon, a leisurely jaunt through Italy, during which she ran into Jessica Alba on the Amalfi Coast.
“Her skin is just incredible. I noticed it before I even recognized her,” she continues enthusiastically.
I sip my neon pink beverage with renewed fervor and shift my feet to keep my stilettos from sinking into the grass. I know Jessica Alba is a tremendous beauty, but does the 31-year-old mother of two really look five years younger than all of us? I’m no math whiz, but being that I’m several years away from my third decade and proactively working to combat signs of aging, it seems I’ve just been insulted.
I respond the way any rational girl would; jealously.
“So does she wear a ton of makeup or is it the botox and fillers?” I inquire.
Unfortunately, I’m informed, it’s neither. A Spanish guitar begins strumming an exotic melody from inside the gallery and the topic of conversation changes. We walk back into the exhibit hall leaving the youthful Ms. Alba on the Amalfi Coast and my mind stuck contemplating why it is that celebrities are able to keep themselves looking so much younger than the rest of us.
How much of the stars’ beauty are they born with and how much of it is a product of their environment? It boils down to the timeless question of nature verses nurture.
I have a friend who will tell you she’s better looking than most celebrities. If given the advantages of fame and fortune—a personal trainer, private chef, fashion stylist, makeup artist, cosmetic dermatologist, etc.—she could cover magazines and silver screens too.
“Do you remember what Carrie Underwood looked like on American Idol?” she asks me as way of explaining. Point: nurture.
Carrie Underwood pre-fame on American Idol, 2005
To test her theory and see if what separates celebrities from their anonymous counterparts really is environment, I ask a man who has experience working with both A-list models and east coast mortals; my hairstylist who splits his time between top salons in Boston and New York.
He wholeheartedly agrees.
“Oh yes, honey! You can always tell when celebrities are on the rise because they start surrounding themselves with better people. As the team working on them gets better, the celebrity starts looking better and better” he tells me categorically. Chalk another point up to nurture.
I turn this over in my mind. Given my recent experience as a bride, which, for a glorious but fleeting moment in time, allowed me the trappings of celebrity (including the aforementioned hairstylist), I can attest that the quality of a beauty team makes a huge difference. Having tremendously talented professionals tend to my every cosmetic need—from individually applied lashes to multi-toned highlights—transformed me into a glittering, photoshopped version of myself. It made me look like a celebrity.
So, back to anti-aging: does this mean that celebrities’ skin looks so much better than everyone because their dermatologists, estheticians and products are so much better than the average person’s?
There are plenty of beautiful people, like my friend, who don’t work in the entertainment industry, yet those within the industry seem to age a delayed pace while earthly beauties’ looks fade with time. Based on everything I’ve seen and heard, I’ve reached the conclusion that nature gives you the face you were born with, nurture keeps it looking good—and access to a VIP dermatologist, unlimited Crème de la Mer, and bi-weekly placenta facials keep it looking preternaturally young.
It seems Hollywood can transform an everyday beauty into a bombshell and make a 30 year old look like a college student. So, while nature may not have given us the movie star looks of Jessica Alba, with the right kind of Beverly Hills nurture, we have the potential to look as young as her.