NOTE: I’m using an abbreviated last name, not because I am embarrassed by Botox, but because I’m an exec who’d prefer that this piece not be my first Google search result. Woolfers who know me know that I’m the first to “own up” to Botox, and to recommend my genius doc. Also, photo.
It cracks me up when women say directly to me, “I can’t stand Botox, can you?” or, when discussing another woman’s appearance, whisper, “I bet she’s had Botox; I can always tell.” Because obviously they can’t: I have benefited from Botox injections for 8 years or so, and people are always surprised to learn it. They’re also *always* surprised to learn my age. That combo gives me confidence that Botox delivers the results I’m after.
My decision to try Botox the first time occurred under less-than-ideal circumstances: Forty years old and extremely stressed pending a potentially devastating medical diagnosis for my mother, I scheduled a consult with a friend’s trusted plastic surgeon as a distraction. Another “friend” (now frenemy) whispering, “You look so young … except when you smile and your crows feet make you look 60,” prompted the consult. At the appointment, I agreed to give it a try on the spot, don’t remember the procedure at all, and the results were a bit more aggressive than what I go for today.
Happily, after that initial encounter, I joined the advisory board of Charlotte’s Book, a resource for all things medically aesthetic, and was introduced to the magically talented Dr. Doris Day (a Woolfer!), a dermatologist based in New York City. I see Dr. Day every 4-6 months for Botox in my forehead, around my eyes, my jaw, and on my neck. I rely on her fantastic eye, prescriptive approach, and light touch to keep me looking my best.
I am well aware of the criticisms of Botox, and, you know what? I have some answers.
“Women look frozen and artificial.”
Not always (see above). I smile, frown, and rage with the rest of you. Though if it were my choice to fully freeze my expressions, who are you to judge? Why is it any different from unnatural pink hair, lash extensions, or whitened teeth? Please consider the selfies you compliment and what might have gone into those faces.
“Women who get botox are vain and superficial.”
Perhaps. But are we any more so than those of us who obsess over our figures, wear makeup, color our hair, or care about clothes? Besides, there is a real benefit to Botox that goes beyond mere vanity. Studies demonstrate positive correlations between being perceived as attractive and lifetime earnings. Hence, investing in appearance is a rational economic decision. I happen to work in a field that’s more youth-obsessed than others, but research found the same results across a variety of workplaces.
“Caring about your appearance is anti-feminist.”
Disagree. I am a feminist who enjoys feeling attractive. And Botox-shaming doesn’t exactly scream “women supporting women” to me.
“Botox gives an unfair advantage to those with means.”
In a wildly inequitable world, this one just reads whiny to me. When it comes to our appearance, we each work with what we’ve got, genetically or otherwise. Some women are blessed with wonderful height, amazing hair color from birth, and naturally perky breasts. Should we begrudge them those advantages? Then why begrudge me my hard earned disposable income?
I don’t judge women who don’t opt for Botox. And I don’t judge women who take it further than I do. In the spirit of kindness, let’s each choose our own poisons and save the criticisms for the very real problems 40+ women face every day.
As Diane Von Furstenberg put it, “Aging is out of your control. How you handle it though is in your hands.”