Mona Lisa looks pretty damn good for a 500-year-old.
Art historians estimate that Leonardo da Vinci completed the Mona Lisa in either 1516 or 1517, and it has had a permanent home in the Louvre for over two centuries (taking mini-vacations during wars), where it has become arguably the most famous painting in the world. Despite how well-known it is, however, not much is known about it.
The woman in the portrait is supposedly Lisa del Giocondo (also known as Lisa Gherardini, her maiden name), whose wealthy silk-merchant husband is believed to have commissioned the painting for their new McMansion. If you're anything like me, you spent most of your childhood believing Mona was Mona Lisa's first name (I blame Who's The Boss), when, in fact, it was a version of the Italian word Monna, which was used back in the day as sort of a "Madame" or "Lady" designation.
The mystery surrounding the Mona Lisa isn't just in the unconfirmed details; it's in the famous smile, written about and referenced for centuries. People have contemplated why Mona Lisa is smiling, why she's not smiling bigger, and if that smile is what made her a historical beauty icon; very dead French writer Théophile Gautier called her a "sphinx of beauty who smiles so mysteriously," which was also my nickname in high school.
But let's be honest, folks. Even though we've been taught (or at least given the impression) that Mona Lisa is one of the most celebrated beauties since the Virgin Mary — in fact, many have said that Mona Lisa resembles Renaissance portraits of Mary, who embodied the female physical ideal of that era — when we look at her through our 2016 eyes, we don't see a total babe by contemporary standards.
Good ol' Lisa might have been considered a hottie in the 1500s, but if you saw her walking down the street today, you would likely interpret her looks as average at best. As much as we've been conditioned to believe she is one of portraiture's great stunners, we've been even more conditioned, even with our individual personal tastes, to instinctively recognize the 21st-century version of conventional attractiveness — and she doesn't exactly possess it in spades.
This polarity got me thinking: if Mona Lisa somehow found herself in 2016, her pockets (let's pretend whatever the hell she's wearing in the portrait has pockets) filled with her supposed oodles of family money, and decided she wanted to surgically upgrade/update her beauty (no judgments here!), what would cosmetic surgeons recommend?
I reached out to five board-certified plastic surgeons and asked them, "If Mona Lisa walked into your office as a patient and asked you what she should 'get done,' what procedures would you recommend?"
Here's what they told me.
Dr. Stephen T. Greenberg, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon in Long Island
"I would suggest to her a chin augmentation, lip injections and a lower eyelid injection to get rid of her sunken eyes."
Dr. Jennifer Levine, Board-Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon in New York City
"She could use ultherapy to tighten the lower face and jawline and also reposition her eyebrow. Since 80% of women have cellulite and a fuller figure was in vogue during the Renaissance, she certainly could benefit from Cellfina. Even though her face is symmetric and well-proportioned, her nose elongates her face and overshadows her mouth, so she would benefit from a finesse rhinoplasty. The appeal of Mona Lisa is her effortless and natural beauty that has withstood centuries; very minimal enhancement of her cheeks with Radiesse will lift and reposition her face and give her a more youthful quality.
"Even though the Mona Lisa’s lips are small by today’s standards, I do not believe in disrupting her most famous feature, which is her smile."
Dr. Norman Rowe, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon in New York City
"I would advise her to get Botox, because even a classic beauty needs to maintain. Botox not only treats wrinkles you may currently have, but it also prevents them."
Dr. Sam Rizk, Double Board-Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon in New York City
"On first glance, Mona Lisa has an interesting and youthful face, with good skin quality and volume in her cheeks and lips. She does have a large forehead with a high hairline, low brow position, and deeply set eyes that give her a mysterious quality. She has a short chin with a small amount of submental fat, and a reasonably straight yet long nasal bridge with a well-defined tip.
"If Mona Lisa came to me, I would first ask her what she wanted to change and why. I do not think she is a candidate for cosmetic surgery due to her age and facial structure. If she was complaining about her lower face and neck, I might suggest a very small chin implant with some liposuction to sharpen her jawline definition. If she was feeling that her brows were drooping, I might suggest some Botox injections to gently lift her brow position. I actually like her nose and would not want to change it, as I think it suits her facial structure."
Dr. Nicholas Sieveking, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon in Nashville
"I would recommend brow lifting, fat grafting to the lower eyelids, and filler or fat transfer to the lips. Before the surgery, however, I would recommend extensive food sensitivity testing and comprehensive metabolic panels. She's overweight and could probably stand to lose about 30 or 40 pounds before surgery. After that, we'd probably have to add a mastopexy to correct and modify the size, contour, and elevation of the breasts to add lift."
Considering almost 14 million people underwent procedures like Botox and laser skin resurfacing in 2014, and nearly two million got cosmetic surgeries like breast augmentations and facelifts, it's entirely possible — if not probable — that a woman of Lisa del Giocondo's wealth would visit a plastic surgeon's office for a treatment or two if she were alive today.
But I, for one, don't think Mona Lisa is overweight; I just think her outfit is flouncy.