The body positivity and real beauty movements continue to dominate both headlines and newsfeeds – whether it means a new powerful body image hashtag, initiatives like Dove’s highly successful “Real Beauty” campaign or the fact that certain celebs have committed to boldly go makeup-free.
These are progressive moves, no doubt, and positive when it comes to the future of our daughters, nieces and humanity in general. Not to mention, they are long overdue. The irony, however, is that, at the same time as the body positivity and real beauty movements are happening, our culture is more image-obsessed than ever, thanks to social media, a ‘Kardashian culture’ and the notion that “30 is the new 20.”
If 30 is the new 20 (and 40 is the new 30) – complete with the prolonging of babies and the white picket fence – we all want to at least look the part, right? So, more than ever, many women (and men) construct versions of themselves a la how they’d like people to perceive them. Photo editing tools allow us to do everything from plump up our lips to erase cellulite.
But it goes beyond the filters and editing tools. More than ever, people are turning to injectables as the secret to looking years younger.
Once 30 hits and the inevitable lines started to surface, the big question remains: to Botox or not to Botox. Many women I know resisted it until they got to the point that their sagging eyelids, crows feet or laugh lines were the only thing they noticed when they looked in the mirror (and, in our culture of keeping up appearances, this isn’t a good feeling).
“No matter how good she looks, every woman has something that gives away her age,” says Dr. Zel Krajden M.D, a Toronto cosmetic plastic surgeon who spends part of his time at Yorkville’s A-list favourite Spa Medica. His clinics see clients as young as their mid to late twenties. The request from most is the same – they want to look as natural as possible (the plastic look is so out).
“The biggest misconception when it comes to Botox is that people look fake, frozen or ‘done,’” says Krajden. “But the goal is to produce natural results that have you looking softer, smoother and more rested, but not different.” He says that plastic surgery gets a particularly bad reputation because decades ago it was done on an “extreme, harsh and rigid way.” Times have changed, says Krajden. “Now, the result is a younger-looking you.”
Of course, the fear is that seemingly harmless Botox injections are the precursor to a quick addiction to limitless filters, injections and plastic surgery. “When it comes to Botox, there is no evidence to suggest this is the case,” says Krajden. “While it’s not surprising that a lot of the injectable patients are also previous surgery patients, it’s rarely the other way around.” Many women stick with injectables as their only anti-aging secrets for decades, says Krajden.
Personally, many women I know who have opted for what one friend affectionately refers to as “the ‘tox” will tell you it’s one of the best things they’ve done when it comes to their levels of self-esteem. In fact, I am going to even say it’s empowered them.
“Getting a tweak here and there is definitely something I’m not against at all. I say if it makes you feel good then do it. If something can make you look younger and feel better about yourself, why not?,” says Vanessa, 31, a hair stylist from Montreal. “Aside from just fixing wrinkles, Botox has many other positive side effects like helping with migraines, back pain, depression and heart trouble.”
The thing is, society likes to shit on Botox-opting women, frowning on Botox as “superficial” and instead advocating to “age gracefully.” There’s a reason why many women want to keep Botox their little secret – they don’t want to be shamed for it. “I think the whole Botox craze is insane,” said Justine, 33. “Aside from the whole expressionless face factor, I can think of a million other ways to spend the $1500-a-year Botox budget.”
But, of course, like anything else, a woman has the right to control what happens to her body – Botox is no exception. Whereas a little Botox takes five painless minutes to administer, people resort to way more invasive measures to achieve certain appearances, say the pro-Botox set.
“Getting a bikini wax hurts about ten million times more, is undoubtedly more invasive and most of the time is something that you’re doing for somebody else,” says Emma, 34, from Toronto. “Even getting your eyebrows threaded hurts more than the Botox injections. How is getting Botox really any different in principle than dying our hair or having laser hair removal?”
When we live in a highly filtered society of fake lashes, fake hair, fake eye colour and fake boobs, a little natural-looking Botox seems pretty harmless to many.
Though Krajden says clients are about 75 per cent female, there have been a growing number of men opting for Botox. He also sees an increase in both young women and older women (as in, well into their 70s); “It’s no longer reserved for women in their 30s,” says Krajden.
As for the early 20s set of clients, Krajden says that there is nothing wrong with it, as long as done in small amounts for preventative purposes and with a reputable, licensed practitioner.
“This is your face – don’t settle for the most affordable or convenient option or you could end up looking completely frozen, asymmetric,” says Krajden.