My mother dropped a bombshell on me at a brunch in 2001. “I’m thinking of getting a refresher,” she said while lightly pulling her cheeks back with her forefingers. I was aghast. My mom, now 72, is an age-defying beauty who has always looked 10 to 15 years younger than her age.
“Mom!” I yelled incredulously in the dining room of the Century Club in New York City. “What happened to ‘Black don’t crack’?” Looking me dead in the eye while resting her chin on the top of her hand, she said, “Black don’t crack, but it sags!” With that hilarious line, my opposition to her impending plastic surgery was nipped in the bud.
“Black don’t crack” is a favorite African American aphorism to explain why, generally speaking, blacks can look younger than they are. During my years at the New York Daily News, my editorial board colleague Karen Hunter and I would counsel others on the board to “add 10” whenever talking about the age of an African American in the news or with whom we’d just met if the person’s age was not known.
That first lady Michelle Obama turns 50 on Friday is widely known. That she, too, is an age-defying beauty is plainly apparent. That she won’t rule out Botox, fillers or a “refresher” in the future has my head cocked in a “say what now?!” pose. According to The Post’s Helena Andrews of the Reliable Source, Obama tells People magazine, “Right now, I don’t imagine that I would go that route. But I’ve learned to never say never.”
I asked my mother, whom I affectionately call “Miss Lady,” what advice she would give the first lady. She didn’t mince words.
Let me tell you something. . . . There are a very few blacks that don’t crack. Maybe not as soon as our white sisters, but we do crack. We keep our cars tuned up and running well, so why not our bodies[?] If someone gets a dent in their car, how long do you think they would drive around with that dent? So we should treat the lines and sagging on our bodies like the dents in [our] cars. . . . “Have them removed” and don’t apologize.
When I first saw my mom after her “refresher,” I thought she got robbed. An already young-looking woman looked the same. Not so, a couple of weeks later. Upon getting in the back seat of a car on the way to a dinner, I tapped the shoulder of my mother who was in the front passenger seat.
Chin resting on hand (again), she turned and drawled, “Hello!”
“Dayum! You look great!” I exclaimed. “Why thank you,” she said giggling. My hunch is if that Michelle does go this route, we’ll all have a similar reaction.
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