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Is Anybody Out There Not Having Botox?

Is there anybody out there not having Botox?

I was an early adopter of the old ‘injecting toxins into my one precious face’. Almost ten years ago, aged 33, having read an article about the preventative benefits of Botox, I did some research, then made my very first appointment.

I was petrified. Even more so when I saw the ‘salon’ was above a fast food shop and looked and smelled like it would do a fine line in fried chicken but less so in aesthetic beauty.

I was greeted by a lovely male receptionist (who looked like his face wouldn’t move during a hurricane) who gave me a health questionnaire and a pretty terrifying disclaimer on the possible side effects. I always remember reading that 1 in 100 people will develop a severe headache, and for 1 in 1000 people; that headache will never go away. Like… not ever. I mean that was totally going to be me.

The door to the clinic swung open and the man with the frozen face appeared suddenly beside me. “Dana will see you now”, he said, as if bestowing on me something holy.

Dana sat at at her pristine white desk in the pristine white room wearing a pristine white tunic. She encouraged me to sit down and relax. Some chance of that…

She complimented me on my beautiful baby (yes, I had my baby with me which somehow felt shameful) but I noticed that although her words were warm, her face had not followed suit. Like her receptionist, Dana’s face was frozen. Her full lips tight around her sparkling white veneers.

Oh God, I thought… I don’t want to look like her. I mean, surely Dana had started exactly the same way as I was doing now? Just wanting a few drops in to alleviate the frowny, knackered look common to new mothers and hard workers.

What if I got addicted? And within a year I was full of fillers looking like one of those celebrities who got mock-pitied in Heat Magazine because they looked like they’d been inflated from the inside out?

I was very, very close to grabbing the handles of the pram and running for my life, without even stopping to grab any fried chicken on the way out. But it turned out Dana was actually warm and kind, despite her face not getting the memo. She explained the process in detail. How it would work on the day, how it would look the next day and the next week. She used magic words like subtle and natural and discreet and before I knew what was happening I was lying down on the bed and bracing for impact (saying a silent prayer I wouldn’t be the 1 in 1000).

Now I could terrify any of you who haven’t had botox (reveal yourselves!) by describing how I looked like a boil-riddled cyclops for an hour after the treament and admitting that yes, I did get a slight headache; likely brought on by sheer fear.

But the truth is that that nerve-wracking first appointment was the start of my long and ongoing love affair with botox. Just as with fancying Howard Donald from Take That back in the day, I have watched friend after friend go from “I would never!” to… “Oh actually I probably would…”

I have watched them drop their shock and scepticism to eventually fall in love with that little twice yearly needling, just as sure as night follows day, they’ve all had to admit that yes actually, it is Howard, not Mark that they fancy.

Ten years on, I’ve ditched the lovely Dana for the even lovelier Dionne. She is equally warm and kind and interested, but the difference is I can read all of these emotions on her face. It moves! She needs no hard sell of her products, she’s a walking advert for her ‘tweakments’. Although of course you still see people who have overdone the fillers and injectables, but if you go to someone good, with a great reputation, these treatments can be so subtle can we even tell anymore who’s had what?

Well actually; yes. You only have to look at a film from the 90’s and you will see that 40 year old actresses, beautiful as they are, look 40. Not 20. Similarly I notice now when I see 20 year old actresses, their faces move more than the women playing their mothers. They have slight frown lines and expression lines which give their face character. But without a doubt, those lines will be erased completely by the time they turn 40. Are we all eventually going to completely lose the memory of what a middle-aged person once looked like?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for an end to Botox. Heaven forbid! I’m just wondering how we got so far from what 40 used to look like. And it’s not just women either. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the amount of money men spend on Botox has risen 400% since 2000. So if women are feeling the pressure to look eternally youthful, they’re not the only ones at least. For me it’s actually not even about looking young. It’s about looking rested and less bedraggled by life! Full-time work and full-time single parenting takes it’s toll on the old skin. Put simply, botox makes me look like I’ve had more sleep and less stress.

So are there any completely natural middle-aged women left? Well; for my part, out of my close friends, I have only three who have so far resisted. They’ve resisted out of principle, out of not wanting to take on the costs of treatment… and also now I think about it; I reckon they’ve resisted because they’ve got a quiet self-confidence that actually they look alright without it. And they do! The fact of the matter is we all would wouldn’t we? If we all called an amnesty together it would kind of even out the playing field and we’d all look a little bit older and a little bit softer, together. Who’s in?*

*Not me.


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