With people out of work, the economy in a slump, and competition for jobs at a premium, is staying visibly younger the solution to surviving in the contemporary job market? This is one of many explanations offered for the American obsession with staying young, presented in the documentary Make Me Young: Youth Knows No Pain.
Filmmaker Mitch McCabe follows several story threads in her film. As the director and producer, McCabe embarks on a two-year cross-country examination of the anti-aging industry—a $60 billion per year market. It isn’t all LA and New York centric. One of the main characters profiled is 53 year-old Sherry Mecom, a Dallas resident. She connected with McCabe by responding to a Craigslist ad asking, “Want to talk to a documentary about your thoughts on aging?” We see Mecom in her initial interview, lamenting that she is no longer “getting the catcalls” as she walks down the street. McCabe follows Mecom as she gets Restylane, a breast job, and a tummy tuck—for $35,000 “cash up front.” She relates, “I feel like I’ve been born again. I have a new life.”
McCabe’s father was a plastic surgeon. We see home movies of her and her brother playing monkey-in-the-middle with a silicon breast implant. At 10 years old, she accompanied her father on his rounds at Michigan’s largest hospital, where he served as the Chief of Plastic Surgery. She is the keeper of his extensive photographic repository of “before and after” shots of patients. Although he was killed in a 1998 automobile crash, the presence of Dr. McCabe is pervasive throughout the narrative. He is an example of a plastic surgeon that his daughter sees as “making people happy.” She believes that he had seen his fill of death while serving in Vietnam for a year as a trauma doctor and orthopedic surgeon and references his efforts with correcting children’s cleft palates, mastectomy reconstruction, and post-accident correction—as much as his rejuvenation work.