THE FACE of fashion in Limerick, Celia Holman Lee, has vowed never to succumb to the intense pressure from some quarters within the Irish celebrity scene to go down the cosmetic surgery route.
The 62-year-old says that as well as feeling pressure from external sources she also feels under pressure from within to get work done but has “dug deep” to find the confidence to stay ‘au naturel’.
“The wrinkles are there. I do have plenty of wrinkles, I have,” Celia admitted this week. “And sometimes I look and go, ‘Oh my God’. But I stick to myself and the only reason I do it is because all these girls look fantastic now but it’s the continuation of these constant fillers and injections, that I feel, long term, couldn’t possibly be good.”
As one of the country’s most recognisable style icons, Celia regularly finds herself in the company of women who have undergone various procedures, and she admits that she does feel under pressure to follow suit. She has been offered Botox freebies and free procedures by a number of cosmetic companies. “It’s like this – I go into company sometimes and I feel they are looking at me going, ‘Girl, go away and get something done for yourself’. And I’m looking at them going ‘Lord Jesus what are ye doing to yeer faces?’ ”
As well as the expense of constantly ‘topping up’ the face with procedures, the other drawback, Celia says, is the artificial look that manifests itself over time.
“When you have it done originally, it works beautifully – there is no doubt about it. But, the face become so puffed and so mask-looking that it just becomes completely unnatural. You really have to be so, so careful. It’s all about the amounts you get, who is injecting it and the way it is regulated. I couldn’t risk myself under those circumstances. It is hugely expensive and then your face craves it. If you don’t do it again, the lines come back.”
Despite her 62 years, the grandmother of three continues to exude a youthful appearance leading many to speculate that she has had some ‘work done’.
Not so, according to the Limerickwoman herself: “You could come out here with 50 lawyers and barristers and I will stand in front of them all with my hand on my heart and say absolutely I’ve had nothing done.”
She puts her lasting good looks down to a combination of clever use of make-up, good lighting and strong bone structure. “I think I am clever with make-up and lighting - good lighting can make you look 20 or 30 years younger, bad lighting can make you look 20 or 30 years older. I am lucky that God has given me lots of good things in life – health being one of them, beautiful grandchildren and good bone structure.”
The model agent, who has enjoyed a long and successful modelling career herself, feels that young girls and indeed women are being bombarded with images of perfection and products promising perfection, the result being that they are going to exhaustive efforts to keep up with the look and trends of the day.
“I don’t blame the young people. I blame the bloody magazines and all these TV shows. We had celebrities in our day but we didn’t have access to them every five minutes with the internet. Now it is all image, image, image.”
Celia’s ‘au naturel’ approach, is mirrored by the models in her agency who are discouraged from cutting up their hair or tweezing their eyebrows.
“Every model in my agency is not allowed cut her hair or layer it. Every model in my agency is not allowed touch her eyebrows. I don’t allow them. Young people plucking the bejaysus out of their eyebrows, cutting their hair to death, colouring it, I am against all that. When you look at a beautiful head of natural, magnificent hair – how can you beat that?”
Although she not a fan of cosmetic surgery, Celia says she is not against it completely.
“I have nothing against women having breast implants because for some women, it is a huge issue for them that they are completely flat-chested. If it is a confidence thing then what is wrong with getting your boobs fixed?”
If there is any tip she can give young girls it is to avoid smoking.
“I’m totally against it, I never smoked and I keep telling them not to be smoking. You have the pulling of the lips and it dries your skin so much.”
For the more mature lady, Celia advises that they follow her ‘less is more’ mantra. “As you get older, definitely less is more because otherwise you end up looking like a transvestite. Keep it soft, keep it fresh. The worst thing you can do is load it on.”
Her determination to steer clear of the Botox needle and cosmetic surgeon’s scalpel has been strengthened by the like-minded approach of style icons such as Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren and international designer Diane von Furstenberg. “There is huge, huge, pressure. Thank God for the Helen Mirrens of this world, and the Diane von Furstenbergs of this world – I have a big crush on her at the moment. She has had nothing, no face-lifts. I have always been a massive fan of Sophia Loren but she has had loads of face-lifts. But besides all that she can never look wrong in my eyes.”
When she was filming Come Dine with Me, there were what Celia describes as “unflattering shots” of her but she accepted it and said “I am what age I am.
“I thought when I was young that I would be so vain and there would be no way I would leave it go but you have got to be able to talk to yourself and be able to dig deep. I am a grandmother and I have had all my achievements.”
As she grows older, a healthy lifestyle, Celia says, is becoming more and more important.
She wears a size 12 – “I don’t like to ‘bate’ myself into my clothes” - and maintains her figure by doing weights and watching what she eats.
“As you get older, the weights are important but I don’t beat myself up. I try to do something every week, but some weeks, business and work and problems take over and I do nothing. I try to watch my diet. I have sweet tooth – I love dark chocolate. I do eat but I do try to watch it. There is no way I could eat everything, no way!”
And she allows herself the odd tipple now and then.
“I am well able to drink my wines, red and white, mainly red these days but I was a great one for the white in my day!”