More Than Skin Deep | Viva!

More Than Skin Deep

Most of us would go a long way to avoid the surgeon’s knife. Cindy Jackson, on the other hand, has had a love affair with the scalpel. But Roz D’Ombraine Hewitt discovers that beauty is…

More Than Skin Deep

Cindy Jackson is famous for looking fabulous – but it’s at a cost. She has literally spent a fortune on cosmetic surgery to transform herself into a living, breathing Barbie doll. “To look as fresh and natural as possible” is the way Cindy puts it. “The last thing I wanted was to do was look plastic.” We meet on what feels like the hottest day of the year and she steers me towards the shade of a canopied table outdoors. “I might melt,” she smiles.

Cindy Jackson’s determination to fix her large nose, prominent chin, baggy eyes as well as her fat knees, small boobs and a less than perfect complexion (her words, not mine), proved to be an expensive process of trial and error.

As we sip our drinks in the shade, she explains the difference between plastic and cosmetic surgery. Plastic surgery is reconstructive, for burnt or damaged faces, while cosmetic surgery is about improving what you’ve got. If anyone’s qualified to comment on the latter it’s Cindy. She’s even written a book about it – Cindy Jackson’s Image and Cosmetic Surgery Secrets, which has become a best seller.

It tells how to choose the right cosmetic surgeon but also includes horrific tales of other people’s disasters under the surgeon’s knife. Her own breast augmentation wasn’t exactly a triumph and she had to have the rock-hard implants removed. She has become something of an authority on scalpel beauty and tells the world about it on her website ( Being regularly cut up has produced a thriving business, a place on the celebrity list and a great opportunity to push her passionate concern for animal rights.

In her book, she talks proudly of those who have contributed to the fight for animals, lists all the UK and US companies that test on animals as well as those that don’t and boosts organisations which actively campaign to end the cruelty of animal testing, including SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty).

Cindy, a fervent anti-vivisectionist, is furious that the Government stepped in to save Huntingdon Life Sciences from near certain bankruptcy.

“With wards closing and hospitals struggling to cope, why use our money to bail out a company that tortures animals. It’s despicable. I feel like not paying my taxes. Despite all the animals who have died in cancer research, there hasn’t been a single cure.

There is computer modelling and human volunteers and if they used human tissue samples and consolidated the information they have, they might get a clearer picture of cancer and how to cure it. But most of Huntingdon’s work isn’t medical research anyway, it’s ‘testing’ new chemicals and products – as if we aren’t already overloaded with them. It’s not about cures but selling more drugs and cosmetics.”

With views like these, it’s not surprising that Cindy is a vegetarian and has been since her early teens. Her voice is quiet, but there’s no doubting her frustration that animals are still being used to test drugs and her despair at the Labour Party’s failure to honour its pre-election pledges on animal rights.

“They have let everyone down. They promised to review vivisection and to bring in a Bill to ban hunting. They’ve failed on all counts.” But she’s no less angry at the Government’s continuing support for factory farming:

“BSE and the foot and mouth crisis have illustrated how factory farming desperately needs to be reviewed. People don’t need to eat meat – in fact if everyone became vegetarian there would be enough food to feed the world. “I can understand that if you’re from generations of farmers, animal suffering isn’t something you’re likely to think about. But humans need to evolve, change their ways and move on.”

Cindy Jackson speaks with transparent passion but also with an insider’s authority. Born on an Ohio farm in 1955, she witnessed first-hand how her father regarded animals, dealing with them all as pests:

“I can remember seeing animals killed in front of me in our yard. My father was so keen to rid the woods of all its creatures that if it moved he shot it. His logic was that rabbits, woodchucks and racoons eat your crops so you kill them. As a child, I couldn’t understand it – I felt so powerless. I guess part of my motivation to stop animal cruelty stems from those experiences.”

She admits to feelings of frustration at not being able to do more to end the widespread cruelty that surrounds us:

“If I could have one wish it would be for the cruelty to stop. The sad truth is that people have the power to make this happen. If they didn’t buy cruel products, manufacturers wouldn’t produce them so it is consumers who carry the real responsibility.”

So sensitive to the pain of one group of creatures, it might seem strange that Cindy Jackson has willingly subjected herself to acute pain on so many occasions. She shrugs as though there was no alternative:

Cindy – before and after cosmetic surgery  

“Perhaps if I hadn’t grown up with such a beautiful older sister and been treated cruelly because of the way I looked, I would never have contemplated cosmetic surgery,” she says. “But who knows?” Perhaps if her father hadn’t left a large amount of money, again she might not have gone under the knife and might now look all of her forty-five years.

Cindy came to London at the age of 21 to further her art studies and work as a photographer. In the interim she has tried just about every hair, make-up and cosmetic surgery technique under the sun. For someone obsessed with appearances on a personal level, she seems to have a much deeper and more philosophical approach to what constitutes beauty in others. “Cruelty is ugly to me. I promote beauty but it’s far more than simply how someone looks. Beauty is more than skin deep. A vivisectionist may look beautiful but has an ugly spirit.”

Cindy now seems to be headed away from the superficial and towards the spiritual, having recently developed an interest in spiritual healing, which is now fitted around updating her website and writing her autobiography.

“People might think what I do is superficial but at least I’m working and a good chunk of what I earn from book sales and the like, will go to the animals. That’s what matters to me.” Argue with that if you can!

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