I feel a deep connection to the model-actress Isabella Rossellini, It was around 1984, at age 17 I was given the diagnosis of scoliosis. I happened to come across an old magazine carrying an interview with Isabella Rosellini becoming the face of Lancôme. In the interview, I read the most inspiring words ‘that she too had suffered from scoliosis’. Those were the pre-internet days where a word ‘scoliosis’ never heard in my uptight Catholic home.
Learning that the beautiful Isabella Rosellini too had this deforming and debilitating affliction filled me with a relief. Knowing that I was not alone. I was no freak like my father said I was. The relief I felt was enormous. Like a weight being released from my heart.
His hateful and vindictive branding of me ‘the hunchback of Notre-Dame’ no longer carried the same sting. I felt liberated. And, strangely, I felt beautiful again. Unlike Isabella, I did not opt for surgery because no one really cared to really help out. Now, reading about the issues that arise due to spinal surgery, I am glad, I did not push for that option.
Over the years I have followed Isabella’s moves via the media. Hoping that she would throw some light on this awful condition. But other than just a cursory reference to scoliosis, her condition usually merited a two-line explanation. Isabella did speak of other things though, She highlighted how ageism rife within the film industry is leaving actresses “stuck in limbo” between the ages of 45 and 60 and often struggling to find work. Seriously, isn’t that what the entertainment world about. The business is about young and attractive, that’s what brings the audience and money.
Further, she has discussed the travails of being a single mother to two children at the time. Ah, the sad condition of a single mom who was one of the highest paid models in her time. She says her sacking left her concerned about how she would support her family financially. Reportedly, her contract with Lancome cosmetics was worth $2 million per year.
However, when she does talk about her condition, it is in reference to surgery, but plastic surgery. How she is frightened of surgery because she has had two surgeries due to scoliosis. Even if plastic surgery isn’t this bad, just the word “operation” fills her with fear.’
Again, she trivialized the enormity of a serious health condition with superficial preening.
If she could have honestly talked about living with a fused spine.
And spoken about having a baby with her condition.
What an inspiration she could have been.
With her kind of fame, Isabella Rosellini could have been an inspiration and shone a light on this painful issue. However, over the years I have realized that celebrity life is about image projection that sells. And being picture perfect is the key, focussing the spotlight on condition that is deforming really does not help the beauty business.
Every one of us wants to be beautiful, but more than pretty we want to be healthy and happy. Unfortunately, that does not come in a bottle. We survivors have to struggle every day to maintain our health and manage our pain. How I wish Lancôme comes out with a magic potion that will say goodbye to a twisted spine. And after using the firming potion our bodies will feel straighter, fitter, stronger and pain-free. And, also younger
I do congratulate Isabella on her good fortune of finding her way back to Lancôme. However, I frankly wouldn’t spend between $30.00 – $225.00 (2275 – 14625 Indian Rupees) when all it will do for me is make me look like a well-maintained grandmother with clearly aging skin. I prefer fresh aloe juice any day, it’s all I can afford. However, I dread the day when this 65-year-old face is unable to sell age-defying products because women realize that no matter what you cannot defy age.