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The beauty of Botox When does 'self-care' become narcissism?

Does cosmetic surgery make you angry? Credit: Getty

Does cosmetic surgery make you angry? Credit: Getty


January 26, 2023   5 mins

One of my closest friends is allergic to Botox, which was exactly as terrible a discovery as you might expect. It started while she was still at the doctor’s office, with a burning sensation at the injection site. (“That’s just your imagination,” the dermatologist said.) That sensation promptly turned into a bizarre, patchy rash. (The dermatologist: “I’ve never seen that before.”) Eventually, it gave way to spasms, which though infrequent were intense enough that her husband and kids could see them as they happened, her facial muscles jumping and writhing under her skin like something out of a horror film.

This experience was alarming, but fortunately short-lived. Botox, which smooths wrinkles on the skin by paralysing the muscles underneath it, is cleared from the body within three to six months — at which point the injectee, or the ones not allergic to Botox at least, return for another round. Indeed, it’s a built-in expectation of the whole Botox industry that women (who were the recipients of 95% of the 4 million Botox treatments performed in 2020) keep coming back for more; some proprietors have even begun to offer discounts or bundles for returning customers, not unlike those Subway sandwich punch cards that give you one free tuna melt for every ten you eat. There’s an entire dissertation to be written about the normalisation of non-surgical plastic surgeries, the endless drone-like march of women into clinics for their biannual dose of injectables, but the cultural conversation about these procedures often ignores the fundamental reality that Botox is popular — despite the cost, despite the risks, despite the horror stories of half-frozen faces and drooping eyelids — because it really, really works.

“I’m so angry,” my friend texted me, the week her face finally stopped twitching. “Because I really really liked the way it fixed my elevens.” And yet, there’s something enviable about my friend’s position — not the nightmarish months of uncontrollable twitching, but the paradoxical freedom she now enjoys of not having a choice. Imagine the serenity: never having to decide whether or not to do Botox, or, having done it, when or whether to stop.

That women will confront this decision is something of a foregone conclusion, as illustrated by the endless bombardment of Botox-related media stories, advertisements, personal essays, and gossip magazine features in which plastic surgeons debate which celebrities have what done to their faces. The reasons to get it done are simultaneously myriad and yet, at base, all the same. We want to look rejuvenated, which is to say, younger. Or to look less tired, or less angry — which is to say, again, younger. Botox erases the effects not just of time but the human experience: disappointment, grief, rage, joy, any emotional disturbance that causes expression that in turn puts lines on your face. If you inject a paralytic toxin early enough, often enough, maybe you can look like a person who hasn’t lived at all.

Indeed, the rise of injectables has changed the nature of the game from restoration to preservation. Gone are the days of waiting until things are dire enough to merit going under the knife, waking up bruised and battered but with the promise of looking 10 years younger after the bandages come off. Now, the thing is to simply never allow the effects of age to take hold at all. My own dermatologist assured me that the best time to get Botox was before you actually look like you need it. “If you can’t make that face, you won’t get these wrinkles,” she said, which gave me the disturbing sense that by getting Botox I would be not so much protecting my skin as changing my destiny. They say that smiling can be an instant mood-booster, because the movement tricks your brain into thinking you’re happy even when you’re not; what happens to the brain of a person who’s been physically unable to scowl for years? Is it as smooth as her forehead? Smoother?

It is tempting to put this new standard of beauty, one maintained at the tip of a needle, in the context of broader questions about feminism and empowerment. Objectively, certainly, it is better to be beautiful: attractive people are paid better, promoted more, received more warmly by society. But what of the patriarchal system that defines beauty to begin with? Is the woman who improves her appearance with injectables — or, rather more to the point with Botox, preserves whatever beauty and hence privilege she already possesses past its usual sell-by date — guilty of sustaining a paradigm that leaves women in general worse off? On the one hand, in some ways, maybe; on the other, surely this is a ridiculous burden to lay upon any one woman’s brow, no matter how unwrinkled.

And then, too, there are the women who never opt into that paradigm in the first place. Another friend, the novelist Leigh Stein, recently tweeted her relief at never having felt compelled to nip, tuck, or inject herself. “The benefit of never having been beautiful is that I don’t feel the pressure to maintain my face,” she told me. I will note here that various commenters disagreed vehemently with Stein’s assessment of her looks, but again, her peace of mind seems enviable. I have never been the kind of beautiful that stops traffic or entices modelling offers, but I am nevertheless aware of my face as an asset, one which has been periodically valuable to me but is now sliding inexorably toward the floor.

For this reason, I have had Botox: four times in all, starting at age 35, when I began receiving injections once a year, except for the one time when it was more like 18 months. The haphazardness of my commitment is not due to any great moral ambivalence about plastic surgery; I’m just lazy. And because I took the advice of the dermatologist who urged Botox as a wrinkle-preventing mechanism, the injections don’t actually make any measurable impact on my appearance. I look the same; what’s different is that I feel — bizarrely —like I’ve accomplished something.

Maybe I have. All cosmetic interventions — the Botox and the serums and the lip-plumping injections, the waxing and lasers and liposuction — somehow fall under the dubious banner of “self-care” rather than the comparatively unsavoury one of “egregious vanity”. Yet despite being dressed up as something almost altruistic, an act of caring for yourself the same way you’d care for an elderly parent or a potted plant, self-care often seems more a question of caring about how your self is perceived. (It is perhaps no coincidence that the pandemic saw a surge in patients seeking Botox injections, having been tormented for months by the sight of their own haggard faces while attending meetings on Zoom.) How much does it matter to you, to keep up the appearance of not being past your prime? How much are you willing to invest — in time, in money, in subjecting your face to routine maintenance, like a car?

The thing about Botox, of course, is that it’s a gateway drug. If you do it once, you’ll probably do it again — but you’ll probably do other things too, eventually, until you end up with a face that is perhaps more youthful than the one nature would’ve given you, but also no longer entirely yours. I see these women from time to time, the ones who decided long ago on the latter option, their cheeks so eerily smooth and plump that they seem like they’re peering out from behind a mask. There’s something fascinatingly remote about them, and not just in their apparent lack of concern for the way others view them, with voyeuristic judgment and ridicule. They no longer look anything like their younger selves. They don’t look like the mother or aunt or grandmother they might have grown to resemble. They don’t look entirely human, really. But they do look like each other, a strange sisterhood of choice.

I don’t intend to join them, but I wonder if anyone ever does.


Kat Rosenfield is an UnHerd columnist and co-host of the Feminine Chaos podcast. Her latest novel is You Must Remember This.

katrosenfield

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Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

“But what of the patriarchal system that defines beauty to begin with.”

Try this experiment. Ask every man you meet and speak to for up to ten minutes to close his eyes. Then ask him to describe what you’re wearing, to describe your hairstyle, in extreme cases even to confirm whether or not you’re wearing glasses.

Do the same with women.

It really isn’t us that do this to you.

Pat Rowles
Pat Rowles
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Couldn’t agree more. Also this.

Imagine the serenity: never having to decide whether or not to do Botox, or, having done it, when or whether to stop.

Imagine having the intelligence and sense of self-worth not to even consider the choice in the first place.

Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
1 year ago
Reply to  Pat Rowles

Please. I wonder if sending you, a complete stranger, a gift card for a treatment would reduce the number of sanctimonious internet commentators by one.

Pat Rowles
Pat Rowles
1 year ago
Reply to  Cho Jinn

It wouldn’t, but please feel free to wonder to your heart’s content. (Oh, and if you can figure out a way to send a complete stranger such a gift card, do please let me know – I’d be just fascinated to hear!)

Pat Rowles
Pat Rowles
1 year ago
Reply to  Cho Jinn

It wouldn’t, but please feel free to wonder to your heart’s content. (Oh, and if you can figure out a way to send a complete stranger such a gift card, do please let me know – I’d be just fascinated to hear!)

Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
1 year ago
Reply to  Pat Rowles

Please. I wonder if sending you, a complete stranger, a gift card for a treatment would reduce the number of sanctimonious internet commentators by one.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Hear hear!

Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Eventually I knew I would get to the part where its blamed on men and the “patriarchal system that defines beauty”. If “patriarchy” is the rule of fathers, I can tell you as a father of two daughters I would never encourage them to engage in this narcissistic self-mutilation. The choices are yours ladies – do it or don’t do it. It’s your choice and its a reflection of your values. There’s no conspiracy of patriarchal rulers out there making you do it.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

The look adopted by young girls today of huge lips and ET eyes is not remotely attractive to men. Mostly men seem to wince

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago

Years ago the goal was to look as natural as possible, so nobody would know you had some work done, now the trend seems to be an unnatural plastic look, so everyone knows you’ve had some work done. For foolish Women, Botox/plastic surgery are now Veblen goods

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago

Years ago the goal was to look as natural as possible, so nobody would know you had some work done, now the trend seems to be an unnatural plastic look, so everyone knows you’ve had some work done. For foolish Women, Botox/plastic surgery are now Veblen goods

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

The look adopted by young girls today of huge lips and ET eyes is not remotely attractive to men. Mostly men seem to wince

Robert Eagle
Robert Eagle
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

If it really is “the patriarchal system that defines beauty to begin with”, then it’s the gynarchy that patrols, polices and enforces it.

Philip Tisdall
Philip Tisdall
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Eagle

Well done with “gynarchy”. You must have wrestled with the better symmetry of “matriarchy”. I have the same problem with a symmetrical word for “misogynist”.

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Tisdall

 a symmetrical word for “misogynist”.

Feminist

Jim W 0
Jim W 0
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Tisdall

my misunderstanding

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim W 0
Robert Eagle
Robert Eagle
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Tisdall

“Misandrist” isn’t too bad, is it? Though when spoken out loud it does lack the harsh gutterality of misogynist.

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Tisdall

 a symmetrical word for “misogynist”.

Feminist

Jim W 0
Jim W 0
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Tisdall

my misunderstanding

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim W 0
Robert Eagle
Robert Eagle
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Tisdall

“Misandrist” isn’t too bad, is it? Though when spoken out loud it does lack the harsh gutterality of misogynist.

Philip Tisdall
Philip Tisdall
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Eagle

Well done with “gynarchy”. You must have wrestled with the better symmetry of “matriarchy”. I have the same problem with a symmetrical word for “misogynist”.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Psychological tests have been done on the way men and women perceive appearance. The outcome was that women see details and therefore fine tune them; they also scrutinize the details of others especially other women, their competition. Where as, men take in the overall image or appearance of a person to form an impression of that person and can’t often relate the details or tell you why they have formed the image they perceive. Men don’t see the details, they see ‘the package’. It’s biology not nefarious intent.

Last edited 1 year ago by Cathy Carron
Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

I can’t help but think of the Leonard Cohen poem that went “I did not know / until you walked away / You had the perfect a**. Forgive me / for not falling in love with your face / or your conversation”

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

I believe women dress for other women. They ‘get work done’ for other women, for all the reasons you cite. We understand that we do it for men and to be noticed by men but it is much more about competition with other women for the ‘man’. What ever the fine detail is that we observe, we never scrutinise anyone quite as much as we scrutinise ourselves. No?

Jane H
Jane H
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Men don’t see the details??? You’re ‘avving a larf!!!

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane H

Men miss or ignore a lot of things Women see, eg the average man has no idea what kind of shoes Mia Malkova was wearing when she walked past him

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane H

Men miss or ignore a lot of things Women see, eg the average man has no idea what kind of shoes Mia Malkova was wearing when she walked past him

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

I’m very happy that at my age of 67, my younger husband, not perceiving the details, likes what he sees when my clothes are off.

Last edited 1 year ago by Betsy Arehart
Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

I can’t help but think of the Leonard Cohen poem that went “I did not know / until you walked away / You had the perfect a**. Forgive me / for not falling in love with your face / or your conversation”

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

I believe women dress for other women. They ‘get work done’ for other women, for all the reasons you cite. We understand that we do it for men and to be noticed by men but it is much more about competition with other women for the ‘man’. What ever the fine detail is that we observe, we never scrutinise anyone quite as much as we scrutinise ourselves. No?

Jane H
Jane H
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Men don’t see the details??? You’re ‘avving a larf!!!

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

I’m very happy that at my age of 67, my younger husband, not perceiving the details, likes what he sees when my clothes are off.

Last edited 1 year ago by Betsy Arehart
Pat Rowles
Pat Rowles
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Couldn’t agree more. Also this.

Imagine the serenity: never having to decide whether or not to do Botox, or, having done it, when or whether to stop.

Imagine having the intelligence and sense of self-worth not to even consider the choice in the first place.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Hear hear!

Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Eventually I knew I would get to the part where its blamed on men and the “patriarchal system that defines beauty”. If “patriarchy” is the rule of fathers, I can tell you as a father of two daughters I would never encourage them to engage in this narcissistic self-mutilation. The choices are yours ladies – do it or don’t do it. It’s your choice and its a reflection of your values. There’s no conspiracy of patriarchal rulers out there making you do it.

Robert Eagle
Robert Eagle
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

If it really is “the patriarchal system that defines beauty to begin with”, then it’s the gynarchy that patrols, polices and enforces it.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Psychological tests have been done on the way men and women perceive appearance. The outcome was that women see details and therefore fine tune them; they also scrutinize the details of others especially other women, their competition. Where as, men take in the overall image or appearance of a person to form an impression of that person and can’t often relate the details or tell you why they have formed the image they perceive. Men don’t see the details, they see ‘the package’. It’s biology not nefarious intent.

Last edited 1 year ago by Cathy Carron
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

“But what of the patriarchal system that defines beauty to begin with.”

Try this experiment. Ask every man you meet and speak to for up to ten minutes to close his eyes. Then ask him to describe what you’re wearing, to describe your hairstyle, in extreme cases even to confirm whether or not you’re wearing glasses.

Do the same with women.

It really isn’t us that do this to you.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
1 year ago

Be careful or you’ll end up looking like a mummified teenager. There is nothing sadder than a woman in her 40’s trying to look as good as she did in her twenties. Accept the fact that hotness ends. And it’s okay.

Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
1 year ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

“Be careful or you’ll end up looking like a mummified teenager.”
Or a lizard alien. Or the Duchess of Alba.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

I totally disagree: quite a few women in their 40s and 50s now are more attractive than any girls I knew when I was in my twenties and thirties

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Yup.

Chiara De Cabarrus
Chiara De Cabarrus
1 year ago

I was told that middle age was the revenge of the plain over the pretty. Aged 18 , the more angular, awkward looking girls are less popular than their blonde , pouty , oval faced peers. Faced forward 20 years, the latter have dissolved into sort of formless blobs, while the plain janes are smashing it with their chiselled elegance and their superior wits honed by decades of actually having to make an effort. Who wants to be a trophy ? Its the trophies that get left on the shelf …

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Yup.

Chiara De Cabarrus
Chiara De Cabarrus
1 year ago

I was told that middle age was the revenge of the plain over the pretty. Aged 18 , the more angular, awkward looking girls are less popular than their blonde , pouty , oval faced peers. Faced forward 20 years, the latter have dissolved into sort of formless blobs, while the plain janes are smashing it with their chiselled elegance and their superior wits honed by decades of actually having to make an effort. Who wants to be a trophy ? Its the trophies that get left on the shelf …

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

I think Madonna is one of the most pertinent examples of this. She was always a pretty woman, and she could have aged beautifully, instead, she is a cringe inducing woman in her 60s who looks more and more like an alien each year, desperately seeking attention on the internet by trying to pretend she’s still some kind of sex symbol.

Last edited 1 year ago by AL Crowe
Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
1 year ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

“Be careful or you’ll end up looking like a mummified teenager.”
Or a lizard alien. Or the Duchess of Alba.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

I totally disagree: quite a few women in their 40s and 50s now are more attractive than any girls I knew when I was in my twenties and thirties

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

I think Madonna is one of the most pertinent examples of this. She was always a pretty woman, and she could have aged beautifully, instead, she is a cringe inducing woman in her 60s who looks more and more like an alien each year, desperately seeking attention on the internet by trying to pretend she’s still some kind of sex symbol.

Last edited 1 year ago by AL Crowe
Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
1 year ago

Be careful or you’ll end up looking like a mummified teenager. There is nothing sadder than a woman in her 40’s trying to look as good as she did in her twenties. Accept the fact that hotness ends. And it’s okay.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
1 year ago

I have never known a man worth knowing who adjusts his belief in how attractive a woman is on the basis of how well she is micro-managing aging.
If your skin is radiant your hair is lustrous and you are full of the joy of life and you do not use your appearance as a kind of architectural achievement to be impressed by everyone, people love being around you. I also find treating people with dignity and respect and witnessing what people do for you makes you memorable and attractive. Intelligence is also in there, having something meaningful to say is attractive.
.Without wishing to sound like everyone’s Yoga instructor people relate to your inner fire and self-belief.
The most interesting thing about being a woman is learning how to play the game. Knowing how to present on an 80-kilometer hike in the mountains and in a 3-star Michelin restaurant in Paris and all points in between and knowing all you do is because YOU want to and dress appropriately.
Both men and women who have a natural athleticism forged in the heat of activity are in my book attractive.
Being genuinely happy with yourself as you grow old is more important than all these tactical maneuvers and don’t those blank foreheads and lips look bl**dy stupid?

Last edited 1 year ago by Michelle Johnston
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

A woman after my own (man’s) heart.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

A woman after my own (man’s) heart.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
1 year ago

I have never known a man worth knowing who adjusts his belief in how attractive a woman is on the basis of how well she is micro-managing aging.
If your skin is radiant your hair is lustrous and you are full of the joy of life and you do not use your appearance as a kind of architectural achievement to be impressed by everyone, people love being around you. I also find treating people with dignity and respect and witnessing what people do for you makes you memorable and attractive. Intelligence is also in there, having something meaningful to say is attractive.
.Without wishing to sound like everyone’s Yoga instructor people relate to your inner fire and self-belief.
The most interesting thing about being a woman is learning how to play the game. Knowing how to present on an 80-kilometer hike in the mountains and in a 3-star Michelin restaurant in Paris and all points in between and knowing all you do is because YOU want to and dress appropriately.
Both men and women who have a natural athleticism forged in the heat of activity are in my book attractive.
Being genuinely happy with yourself as you grow old is more important than all these tactical maneuvers and don’t those blank foreheads and lips look bl**dy stupid?

Last edited 1 year ago by Michelle Johnston
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

I wouldn’t submit to Botox or cosmetic surgery no matter how many women are doing it – for other women. Patriarchal system, my saggy @ss.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

I wouldn’t submit to Botox or cosmetic surgery no matter how many women are doing it – for other women. Patriarchal system, my saggy @ss.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
1 year ago

It doesn’t appeal to me at all, not sure if it’s because my self esteem isn’t low enough or has never been high enough to be affected by such compulsion.
However, I work with a lady who “gets work done” and the last time she spent weeks looking like a DV victim just to spend a few months looking emotionless. I really struggle to see the payoff.

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

I think it is that emotionless semi-frozen look that I find deeply unattractive about botox. Those who have had a little too much look positively frightening when they try to smile or laugh, there’s no reaction in their eyes, their brows, their noses, just an excess of teeth.

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

I think it is that emotionless semi-frozen look that I find deeply unattractive about botox. Those who have had a little too much look positively frightening when they try to smile or laugh, there’s no reaction in their eyes, their brows, their noses, just an excess of teeth.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
1 year ago

It doesn’t appeal to me at all, not sure if it’s because my self esteem isn’t low enough or has never been high enough to be affected by such compulsion.
However, I work with a lady who “gets work done” and the last time she spent weeks looking like a DV victim just to spend a few months looking emotionless. I really struggle to see the payoff.

aaron david
aaron david
1 year ago

Due to nerve damage, I have toes that I have little too no control of. And due to that same nerve damage, I, at times, have a burning need to move those toes (RLS). This is quite painful, and the idea that someone would purposely do this to their face is so ugly to me as to be shocking.
It has nothing to do with any “patriarchy”, as we have no control with what women do in the looks department. And this is visible by the idiocy of women’s shoes (we just want pumps or sneakers), makeup (we hate cake-face) and other bits of women’s au courant fashion (what the heck is up with ponchos?). And, yes, we do like women to look their age, as we also look our age (that “invisible” stage that women hate? Same thing happens to men.) Those lines add character to our and yours faces, which is every bit as wonderful as the flower of youth.
Oh, and your friend, Leah? She looks a lot like my wife, whom I find wonderfully beautiful.

aaron david
aaron david
1 year ago

Due to nerve damage, I have toes that I have little too no control of. And due to that same nerve damage, I, at times, have a burning need to move those toes (RLS). This is quite painful, and the idea that someone would purposely do this to their face is so ugly to me as to be shocking.
It has nothing to do with any “patriarchy”, as we have no control with what women do in the looks department. And this is visible by the idiocy of women’s shoes (we just want pumps or sneakers), makeup (we hate cake-face) and other bits of women’s au courant fashion (what the heck is up with ponchos?). And, yes, we do like women to look their age, as we also look our age (that “invisible” stage that women hate? Same thing happens to men.) Those lines add character to our and yours faces, which is every bit as wonderful as the flower of youth.
Oh, and your friend, Leah? She looks a lot like my wife, whom I find wonderfully beautiful.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

I view all the cosmetic enhancements in pretty much the same way as i view cosmetics in general – women with a face plastered in make-up that looks like it’s never been fully cleansed since they were in their teens is to my eye a ghastly look. Gentle application of minimal make-up i can fully understand, and can induce some confidence in the wearer, but that’s the key – confidence. An overly made-up appearance just reeks (often literally!) of lack of self-confidence, and that’s just about the least sexiest look imaginable (unless, i guess, you get off on ‘vulnerability’).
None of us can help the face we’ve been given. But… i’m well into my sixties, lived well but stay fit and crucially have used nothing on my face except water all my life. It remains relatively unlined. Is there a lesson there? Maybe i’m just lucky, or maybe i made my own. Sorry ladies!

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Because of their thicker skin, men don’t get “old looking” as fast as women do. Amount of sun exposure figures in highly as well.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Because of their thicker skin, men don’t get “old looking” as fast as women do. Amount of sun exposure figures in highly as well.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

I view all the cosmetic enhancements in pretty much the same way as i view cosmetics in general – women with a face plastered in make-up that looks like it’s never been fully cleansed since they were in their teens is to my eye a ghastly look. Gentle application of minimal make-up i can fully understand, and can induce some confidence in the wearer, but that’s the key – confidence. An overly made-up appearance just reeks (often literally!) of lack of self-confidence, and that’s just about the least sexiest look imaginable (unless, i guess, you get off on ‘vulnerability’).
None of us can help the face we’ve been given. But… i’m well into my sixties, lived well but stay fit and crucially have used nothing on my face except water all my life. It remains relatively unlined. Is there a lesson there? Maybe i’m just lucky, or maybe i made my own. Sorry ladies!

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
1 year ago

I really dislike this trope that women pursue plastic surgery/botox/etc because of “the patriarchy”. In my experience, women judge other women MUCH more harshly based on their looks and their manner of dress than do men. For instance, back in the days of Twiggy and the “Snorting cocaine and trying to absorb calories through the air” modelling days, I literally know of zero men who found Twiggy “hot”. Yet girls in my class (I was in middle school then) gushed about her, and wanted to look like her. Guys actually preferred someone who ate food and had curves.
I ran into an old friend (a nurse) who I hadn’t seen in 10 years. She is mid-to-late-50’s and besides being a wee bit plump was always pleasant looking. I nearly hit the floor when I saw her. She looks like a clown now. Lips oddly large, eye-makeup permanently tattooed on (and overdone), eyebrows freaky, and face frozen and expressionless. I’m quite sure no man ever asked her to look like that.
We need far fewer botox clinics, and far more psychotherapists who can help us accept that we age, wrinkle, slow down, and eventually die. That is the tragedy of the human condition. Botox has changed aging from tragedy to absurdity.

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Milburn

Studies show time and time again, that the anorexic bean pole look isn’t used by the fashion industry because men like it, it’s because it’s the look that gets more women to buy their clothes. It isn’t partiarchy, and the very term makes me roll my eyes at this point, because it’s invariably chucked about by affluent women over the pettiest of complaints, it is women who police these standards and determine them.
Most heterosexual men notice little about women’s appearance, and couldn’t give a monkeys whether a woman has crow’s feet, a few forehead wrinkles, cellulite, or a bit of a belly.

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Milburn

Studies show time and time again, that the anorexic bean pole look isn’t used by the fashion industry because men like it, it’s because it’s the look that gets more women to buy their clothes. It isn’t partiarchy, and the very term makes me roll my eyes at this point, because it’s invariably chucked about by affluent women over the pettiest of complaints, it is women who police these standards and determine them.
Most heterosexual men notice little about women’s appearance, and couldn’t give a monkeys whether a woman has crow’s feet, a few forehead wrinkles, cellulite, or a bit of a belly.

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
1 year ago

I really dislike this trope that women pursue plastic surgery/botox/etc because of “the patriarchy”. In my experience, women judge other women MUCH more harshly based on their looks and their manner of dress than do men. For instance, back in the days of Twiggy and the “Snorting cocaine and trying to absorb calories through the air” modelling days, I literally know of zero men who found Twiggy “hot”. Yet girls in my class (I was in middle school then) gushed about her, and wanted to look like her. Guys actually preferred someone who ate food and had curves.
I ran into an old friend (a nurse) who I hadn’t seen in 10 years. She is mid-to-late-50’s and besides being a wee bit plump was always pleasant looking. I nearly hit the floor when I saw her. She looks like a clown now. Lips oddly large, eye-makeup permanently tattooed on (and overdone), eyebrows freaky, and face frozen and expressionless. I’m quite sure no man ever asked her to look like that.
We need far fewer botox clinics, and far more psychotherapists who can help us accept that we age, wrinkle, slow down, and eventually die. That is the tragedy of the human condition. Botox has changed aging from tragedy to absurdity.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

The idea that all women have to confront this decision is ludicrous, it never occurs to all the women that I know (I realise that this is anecdotal, but I know women from many walks of life and I would have expected one to at least to consider it if this were true). I can understand if your livelihood depends on your looks, and it seems to be the case that Hollywood etc still find difficulty in casting women who look older, but why would anyone else waste their money on this? It’s less a decision than the straightforward fact that it doesn’t occur to most women to do it. I suppose in some milieux this may be more the norm, among the latterday “social X-ray” types for example, but it is not yet common in the main-stream.

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago

It seems to be gen zs and younger millennials who are especially concerned with such things, even though none of them are really old enough to have experienced anything in terms of ageing, but they seem determined to prevent it and rather frightened of ageing overall.
They’ve all grown up in a world where smart phones and having pictures of themselves all over the internet is normal though, which has intensified the tendency to micro-manage their appearance.

Last edited 1 year ago by AL Crowe
AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago

It seems to be gen zs and younger millennials who are especially concerned with such things, even though none of them are really old enough to have experienced anything in terms of ageing, but they seem determined to prevent it and rather frightened of ageing overall.
They’ve all grown up in a world where smart phones and having pictures of themselves all over the internet is normal though, which has intensified the tendency to micro-manage their appearance.

Last edited 1 year ago by AL Crowe
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

The idea that all women have to confront this decision is ludicrous, it never occurs to all the women that I know (I realise that this is anecdotal, but I know women from many walks of life and I would have expected one to at least to consider it if this were true). I can understand if your livelihood depends on your looks, and it seems to be the case that Hollywood etc still find difficulty in casting women who look older, but why would anyone else waste their money on this? It’s less a decision than the straightforward fact that it doesn’t occur to most women to do it. I suppose in some milieux this may be more the norm, among the latterday “social X-ray” types for example, but it is not yet common in the main-stream.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

Why not stay out of the sun and stand on your head once a day?

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

Why not stay out of the sun and stand on your head once a day?

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago

The ones who look like that are doing the wrong things. Most women have something done.if you see a 60 year old with no jowls or turkey neck it’s a pretty good bet they’ve had a lift. Not everyone wants to look young some just want to look as good as they can for their age. Too many injections give you puffy face but a fat transfer can last a very long time and look natural because
it is. And it’s not the patriarchy doing anything it’s the jarring effect of walking past a mirror and wondering who that unattractive elderly lady is. Ruth Gordon and Helen Hayes were cute well into their dotage but most of us aren’t that lucky.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago

The ones who look like that are doing the wrong things. Most women have something done.if you see a 60 year old with no jowls or turkey neck it’s a pretty good bet they’ve had a lift. Not everyone wants to look young some just want to look as good as they can for their age. Too many injections give you puffy face but a fat transfer can last a very long time and look natural because
it is. And it’s not the patriarchy doing anything it’s the jarring effect of walking past a mirror and wondering who that unattractive elderly lady is. Ruth Gordon and Helen Hayes were cute well into their dotage but most of us aren’t that lucky.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
1 year ago

I will never understand this sort of thing. My late wife never wore makeup except for a little mascara when we went out. Not pretty, in the accepted sense, but for me the most beautiful woman in the world. I really hate the fashionable plumping of lips that make one look like a prolapsed ars*hole. Beauty really does come from within.
Look at all women and men as if you are blind, see what really matters.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
1 year ago

I will never understand this sort of thing. My late wife never wore makeup except for a little mascara when we went out. Not pretty, in the accepted sense, but for me the most beautiful woman in the world. I really hate the fashionable plumping of lips that make one look like a prolapsed ars*hole. Beauty really does come from within.
Look at all women and men as if you are blind, see what really matters.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mark Phillips
Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
1 year ago

Women aren’t the only ones using Botox. I and many men I know also use it. It makes me look friendlier and less fierce. My wife likes me better looking that way.

MĂŽnica
MĂŽnica
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

As the author states, women are 95% of the total.

MĂŽnica
MĂŽnica
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

As the author states, women are 95% of the total.

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
1 year ago

Women aren’t the only ones using Botox. I and many men I know also use it. It makes me look friendlier and less fierce. My wife likes me better looking that way.

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
1 year ago

Very interesting article & I was wondering if this can be compared ( in a small way) to the covid vaccines. The intoxicated promise of “keeping everyone safe”, the disturbing reprimand of not taking them ( not being able to travel or shop etc) & now the dawning of the truth that they were just unnecessary, harmful to many, and to be used with extreme caution, perhaps for the vulnerable only.
Botoxing for 30 yr olds!!!!?? It’s crazy. I would understand if it was for 60 plus ie close to my age and to be used very sparingly. I can feel my age in my face, hair and bones. I am glad for there is a story in them & that I was young once, I am glad I am not anymore. Isnt it more important to find the Botox for the soul?

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago

As I understand it, they market it even to women in their late 20s as a preventative, to stop the facial movements before wrinkles start to form. As I near 40, I already have a nice set of forehead wrinkles developing because of my expressive eyebrows, but even though they annoy me when I look in the mirror, I’d rather keep the uniqueness of my face. I know many around my age who’ve long succumbed to not just botox, but to fillers as well, and will no doubt end up with the swollen alien face look by the time they are in their 60s.

David Jennings
David Jennings
1 year ago

Isn’t that the bigger concern–that this act of vanity really is for deeper reasons: a “Botox for the Soul” as you state? Isn’t the Modern Person doing too much already to ignore, avoid, and deaden the challenges of maturity and of spiritual deepening (the “Elevens” of the soul)? We want to remain spiritual adolescents because the demands of spiritual adulthood are too daunting. We distract ourselves with the modern outputs of technology to avoid confronting the need to let our soul experience time and growth (wrinkles). I am reminded of the song Renaissance Art by the Canadian singer songwriter Valdy:
The Frost King has come and with a flick of his thumb turned the windows to Renaissance art;
As we sit round the fire with no need to enquire about the ways of the soul and the heart
Years passed us by like a soft whispered sigh not noticing youth as it flew
It’s easy to tell that you wear your age well not trying to prove you’re still you

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago

As I understand it, they market it even to women in their late 20s as a preventative, to stop the facial movements before wrinkles start to form. As I near 40, I already have a nice set of forehead wrinkles developing because of my expressive eyebrows, but even though they annoy me when I look in the mirror, I’d rather keep the uniqueness of my face. I know many around my age who’ve long succumbed to not just botox, but to fillers as well, and will no doubt end up with the swollen alien face look by the time they are in their 60s.

David Jennings
David Jennings
1 year ago

Isn’t that the bigger concern–that this act of vanity really is for deeper reasons: a “Botox for the Soul” as you state? Isn’t the Modern Person doing too much already to ignore, avoid, and deaden the challenges of maturity and of spiritual deepening (the “Elevens” of the soul)? We want to remain spiritual adolescents because the demands of spiritual adulthood are too daunting. We distract ourselves with the modern outputs of technology to avoid confronting the need to let our soul experience time and growth (wrinkles). I am reminded of the song Renaissance Art by the Canadian singer songwriter Valdy:
The Frost King has come and with a flick of his thumb turned the windows to Renaissance art;
As we sit round the fire with no need to enquire about the ways of the soul and the heart
Years passed us by like a soft whispered sigh not noticing youth as it flew
It’s easy to tell that you wear your age well not trying to prove you’re still you

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
1 year ago

Very interesting article & I was wondering if this can be compared ( in a small way) to the covid vaccines. The intoxicated promise of “keeping everyone safe”, the disturbing reprimand of not taking them ( not being able to travel or shop etc) & now the dawning of the truth that they were just unnecessary, harmful to many, and to be used with extreme caution, perhaps for the vulnerable only.
Botoxing for 30 yr olds!!!!?? It’s crazy. I would understand if it was for 60 plus ie close to my age and to be used very sparingly. I can feel my age in my face, hair and bones. I am glad for there is a story in them & that I was young once, I am glad I am not anymore. Isnt it more important to find the Botox for the soul?

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
1 year ago

Is the author blaming ‘the patriarchy’ for her Botox injections. Surely, if she genuinely believes the patriarchy are responsible then she should rebel, fight against the patriarchy, and not have Botox injections.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
1 year ago

Is the author blaming ‘the patriarchy’ for her Botox injections. Surely, if she genuinely believes the patriarchy are responsible then she should rebel, fight against the patriarchy, and not have Botox injections.

June Davis
June Davis
1 year ago

Unless you are making a lot of money I would recommend saving those $s in some retirement account instead of spending them on this nonsense. Your older self will thank your younger self.

June Davis
June Davis
1 year ago

Unless you are making a lot of money I would recommend saving those $s in some retirement account instead of spending them on this nonsense. Your older self will thank your younger self.

Lang Cleg
Lang Cleg
1 year ago

Uncanny valley? No thank you.

Lang Cleg
Lang Cleg
1 year ago

Uncanny valley? No thank you.

Laney R Sexton
Laney R Sexton
1 year ago

I have noticed that a lot of men tend to conflate Botox with fillers ( lip and cheek injections, usually a hyaluronic acid not botulin). While Botox injudiciously used can ‘freeze’ the face, most people wouldn’t notice at all of a loved one got a little between her brows.

That being said, it gave me a wretched headache for months when I used it. Now that it’s worn off I feel better, and yet… I’m longing to return to it.

Laney R Sexton
Laney R Sexton
1 year ago

I have noticed that a lot of men tend to conflate Botox with fillers ( lip and cheek injections, usually a hyaluronic acid not botulin). While Botox injudiciously used can ‘freeze’ the face, most people wouldn’t notice at all of a loved one got a little between her brows.

That being said, it gave me a wretched headache for months when I used it. Now that it’s worn off I feel better, and yet… I’m longing to return to it.