02/07/2002 AT 12:15 PM EST
Faced with a month off between jobs, TV newswoman Greta Van Susteren, whose new look is the subject of PEOPLE's latest cover story, was lounging in her three-bedroom stone house in Washington, D.C. Suddenly she looked up from her Sunday paper and asked John Coale, her husband of 14 years, "Do you think I should get rid of these bags under my eyes?" Coale, an attorney, was startled. "We had never talked about it," he told the magazine. "Greta always looks like she's 25 to me." But three days later the pair visited a D.C. surgeon to explore the ins and out of blepharoplasty, commonly known as an eye-lift. "You have to realize this was not a huge decision," Van Susteren tells PEOPLE, "not like choosing a law school." Rather, with the start of her new job a month away (as host of Fox News Channel's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren"), she decided, she says, to do something just for her: "I just did it on a whim. It's the first time since I was 17 that I had a month off and no responsibilities." She was also facing her 30th high school reunion in Wisconsin this summer. "I looked at myself and thought, 'God, how did I get to be 47?' "