More Than Human? Mitch McCabe

By BRIENNE WALSH  09/24/2010 01:30 PM

The most compelling subject in Youth Knows No Pain (2009), a documentary about the American anti-aging industry, is Mitch McCabe, the filmmaker and narrator. The daughter of a plastic surgeon, McCabe uses her lifelong issues with aging and mortality as a jumping off point from which to explore our nation’s fraught relationship with plastic surgery, anti-aging creams, and beauty treatments. “I’m a great target for the American anti-aging industry,” McCabe narrates at the beginning of the film. “Single, no children, with maybe a little bit of fear of my ticking biological clock.” By turning the lens inward, to a place that is uncannily familiar to many women, the film is less of a preachy exposé of plastic surgery and celebrity culture, and more of a tender, albeit suspicious exploration of the American search for the Fountain of Youth.

I spoke to McCabe right before she embarked on a trip to Greece and Turkey to celebrate the DVD release of the documentary, which premiered as part of the HBO documentary film series in 2009. I was eager to speak to the woman who had admitted on film that, despite her $30,000-a-year temp salary and $68,000 in debt, she still spent $200 every six weeks on getting her gray hairs covered, a habit that she wouldn’t give up, even if it meant losing her healthcare.

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