Botox on the brain

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the whole botox, plastic surgery thing. My best friend (who is 27, gorgeous and probably going to kill me for mentioning her age) has decided to get botox next year – and this is not just a passing whim, she really means it! So, I’ve had botox on the brain.

I like to say that ‘people must do as they please’ and ‘who am I to judge.’ But in all honesty, I am not that liberal when it comes to this issue.  It’s lame – there, I said it. I find it difficult to understand why people can’t deal with the fact that they are going to get old. I am by no means saying that thinking about wrinkles, walking sticks and wetting the bed is fabulous but it’s going to happen – no amount of botox is going to fix that.

My dear friend argues that she feels good when she looks good. In other words, looking good makes her happy. I can buy that; I think that most women feel blissful when they look like a million dollars. The obvious question: why not do what it takes to look good if it inspires happiness? It seems like a no-brainer but it’s not all that simple. Doing whatever infringes on a moral standard. To me freezing my face with botox in order to appear more youthful (than I really am) is just so… FAKE. Botox enables a lie.

What is ‘looking good’ anyway? It’s all relative of course – how annoying. ‘Annoying’ because the doctrine of relativity precludes us from moral culpability. It’s easy to blame the media and the youth-driven mindset propagated by glossy mags and the culture of celebrity; all of which society buys into. But ultimately we are responsible for our own choices… our own outcome.

I love Chuck Palahniuck and his acute social commentary. Read this piece of literary awesomeness:

When you get famous, dinner isn’t food anymore; it’s twenty ounces of protein, ten ounces of carbohydrates, salt-free, fat-free, sugar-free fuel. There is a meal every two hours, six times a day. Eating isn’t about eating anymore. It’s about protein assimilation.

It’s about cellular rejuvenation cream. Washing is about exfoliation. What used to be breathing is respiration.

I’d be the first to congratulate anybody if they could do a better job of faking flawless beauty and delivering vague, inspiring messages:

Calm down. Everyone, breathe deep. Life is good. Be just and kind. Be the love.

As if.

– Chuck Palahniuck, Survivor, p138

But Chuck’s point transcends fame.

We live in a world of celebrity mimicry; a world in which people try desperately to be that which they are not – botox is a symptom of deep insecurity. I hate to say “superficiality” because we all subscribe to that noun but botox definitely exposes our penchant for the superficial. And there are many other symptoms, some of which I subscribe to, that expose a shaky sense of self. We are all so damn FAKE.

Not all celebs buy into botox fanaticism. Kate Winslet, who famously complained about the use of airbrushing after taking part in a GQ shoot back in 2003, is taking a stand against Hollywood trends by forming what she calls the ‘British Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League’. The Oscar-winning actress reportedly told the Telegraph that she “will never give in” to cosmetic surgery, and wants to take a stand against the pressures inflicted on actresses to stay young. Kate said of cosmetic surgery, “It goes against my morals, the way that my parents brought me up and what I consider to be natural beauty. I am an actress, I don’t want to freeze the expression of my face.”

Joining the ‘British Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League’ are pals Emma Thompson and Rachael Weisz. Kate’s Sense and Sensibility co-star says, “We’re in this awful youth-driven thing now where everybody needs to look 30 at 60. ‘I’m not fiddling about with myself.” Meanwhile, Rachel Weisz says that she doesn’t even like the result of botox treatments and that “People who look too perfect don’t look sexy or particularly beautiful.”

I guess the conflicting point is; what makes make-up and creams different to botox and surgery. I think that for some people there is no difference. But there is. There is a line, and surgery crosses it. There is nothing wrong with using products to enhance beauty, as a form of expression, but using scalpels and injections to mess with the natural order seems a little too arrogant? ungrateful? conceited? I am not quite sure. It just doesn’t gel with my conscience. I prefer not to look like a Stepford Wife… thanks.

I have a young daughter and I hope to teach her that she is beautiful because she is an amazing little girl who is intelligent, funny, interesting and talented. I am not naïve enough to send her out unprepared and ill-equipped into a world that dictates the superiority of those who comply with an imposed view of physical perfection. I hope to counter the world view by raising my child to be a secure and independent woman who will make thoughtful decisions that are not motivated by an external locus of control (the world) but are motivated by a tenacious set of values and principles that resonate in a strong sense of identity.

I don’t want the world to cajole my daughter into accepting its ethics (or lack thereof). Yet we exist in the world and are largely defined by the society in which we grow… but we do have the ability to exist apart from the collective (in mind) whilst living as one of the collective (in body). Or that’s the ideal to which I, as a woman, strive. Am I too optimistic? Too hopeful? Yes – as a parent I have to be.