Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Beauty and the Botox

For the last couple of years, anyone who knows me knows I’ve been debating whether or not to succumb to the oh-so-Orange County trend of getting Botox. After all, I’m 40+. Botox seems like the next step in a natural progression that includes coloring the (gray) hair, buying more expensive anti-wrinkle creams, and making a trip to the gym a thrice (or quadruple) a week event.

So what was my hesitation? After all, most of my friends have had it, and they are gorgeous testaments to the power of cosmecuticals. It wasn’t the money, either—‘cause, let’s face it, I already spend $120 plus on my hair every five weeks to cover my family legacy of prematurely grey hair (I got my first one at 27—now at 41 I’m likely 50% grey, if I allowed myself to let it grow). At $10 a unit of Botox every 3/4 months, surely it was worth the investment to keep myself looking young (or, youngish, at any rate). And it wasn’t “judgment” from friends or family—I am one of those incredibly lucky people who are surrounded by friends who love me even when I make foolish decisions. I knew that even if having Botox made me look like a female version of Lon Chaney, my friends would simply smile, shrug and hand me a glass of wine. And it wasn’t the glowering disapproval of my hubby, who considers all cosmetic surgery—even the inject-able kind—the “height of vanity.” After all, he can SAY that, but I met him AFTER I started hiding my grays and using the expensive face cream. (lucky for me he never reads my'll see why in a few sentences...)

I think it was simply the fact that having Botox would be admitting to myself that aging is an undeniable fact and that I’m a bit afraid of it. Not too many women—or men, for that matter—will admit that aging scares the crispy crap out of them. Most of my friends say—sincerely, I know—that they are looking forward to being the “spunky old lady” who plays poker and goes to Santa Barbara wineries and Indian Gaming Casinos. I, personally, am not looking forward to that…the idea of being a “spunky old lady” fills me with dread. Perhaps that’s because at 41, I still have not accomplished nearly all the things I set out to when I was 20…and now that I’m well into "beginning middle age", I fear I will never accomplish them.

But I am COMPLETELY digressing….anyway, the long and short of it is that I DID it! I finally had the Botox. Yup. The baby-version, anyway.  Two weeks ago. My friends who have been doing it since they were 35 think I’m ridiculous for letting the fact that I succumbed take over such a large part of my mental energy. And perhaps they’re right. But this wasn’t like going to the gym or getting highlights/lowlights in my hair. This, to me, anyway, was a tacit acknowledgement that I’ve officially entered the battle against aging. And I’m going to go down fighting (because I’m fated to go down, why not do it with a little spirit?)

Please don’t think I’m superficial! I’m not, really. Well, a little. But aren’t we all? Otherwise, who would ever go to the gym or wear decent clothes or even bother to put on deodorant in the morning? Or whiten their teeth? Or get a haircut? Or pluck their nose-hairs (men...)?

Again, I’m digressing (again—can we say ADD anyone?). So…baby-version Botox. The “minimum” for my age/skin condition/wrinkles. The aestheticians that “shot me up” was named Nancy and she was just about the nicest woman you could ever hope to meet. She was extremely easy to talk to—no doubt she found my hesitation a little silly (being in Newport Beach and all) but she patiently answered all my questions. Together we decided to do the minimum, and see how I liked it. She warned me not to “expect miracles” with such a low dose, but promised me that I would see improvement. I ended up having 5 units in my forehead, 5 units between my brows, two under each eyebrow, and 8 in each crowsfeet area. And damn!! The ones in my forehead stung like a M-Fer!!!!! I felt like there were bees stinging my face. Who knew the forehead had so many nerves?

I left the aesthetician’s office that day feeling absurdly pleased with myself. I had finally done something. After spending a year hemming and hawing about getting Botox, I finally had made a decision—for good or for ill. And I was fairly bouncing on my feet as I went back to my car. I wondered if people “knew” I’d taken such a step in the fight against the inevitability of age?? And if they knew, would they admire me or look at me in dirision…or simply not give two farts in a windstorm? (have to thank my dad for that particular idiom).

So after the requisite 3 – 7 days, I definitely DID see changes--especially in my upper eyelids. Pre-Botox they had begun to sag a little—not hugely noticeable, but enough that I saw it when putting on my eye-make up. Now easily 5 years were erased from my upper lids. My forehead, too, looks terrific. Not stiff and immobile—she gave me such a small dose, for which I’m eternally thankful. I can still give my kids “the look.” The crow’s feet area is relatively unchanged—in the right light, it looks like there are fewer lines, but it’s hard to tell. I call the crow’s feet a “wash.” And I guess I did expect miracles—I admit to being a bit disappointed that I don’t look 25 again. But I definitely look better rested. I guess that says something, huh?

So when July rolls around and it is time for me to do it again, will I? The short answer is, yes. I will. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about—I look at Botox as maintenance, like dying my hair or my trips to the gym or even my membership in Weight Watchers (at 41 I’m still able to look decent in a bikini, thanks in large part to the “points system” of Weight Watchers.). The long answer is still somewhat fraught with ambivalence. I sometimes wish I didn’t care so much about what I looked like that Botox even came into the equation. I wish, at times, that I really were one of those women who embraced aging as an old (pun intended) and welcome friend. But I’m not. I’m who I am, and amongst my many quirks and qualities is the desire to maintain a pleasant aspect to my appearance. Not for others—but for myself. At least as long as I can.

Your thoughts?? 


  1. My hesitation is due to knowing people who have gotten it done routinely and now have developed terrible headaches as a side affect of the botox treatments. I am not comfortable with injecting a toxin into my body to paralyze my muscles and rid me of mid-age wrinkles/laugh lines. Also the cost is high and the results aren't lasting. You will spend $1200 or more each year at the aesthetician alone keeping up your appearances, according to your blog on what all you recently had done (30 units at $10/ea). That's pretty pricey, especially when you add in the routine hair coloring (not cheap), gym dues and Weight Watchers membership on top of that. Too rich for my blood! I, too, have contemplated jumping on the OC Lifestyle bandwagon, but I have come to the conclusion that I will just have to age gracefully and hope the good Lord continues to bless me with beautiful skin AND the peace of mind that growing old gracefully without "assistance" is actually a very cool thing to do. My family could do better things with $1200 plus a year than for me to spend it slowing down the inevitable aging/wrinkle process. Sorry. I guess it's okay to try it once out of curiousity but reality is that we are supposed to grow old and wrinkle...that's a part of "living". Look at each wrinkle, not as a shameful thing one has to cover up, but as a badge of honor in the journey of life!

  2. HI! Thank you for posting your thoughts. I know what you're saying; I have had many of those same considerations myself--that's why it took me a couple years to decide whether or not to do it. Also why I did the "baby version" of Botox--I don't want to look like a mannequin. My big fear was looking like "Bree" on "Desperate Housewives"--I swear that woman's face is made of plastic!

    For me, getting Botox has made me feel a bit more comfortable in my own skin, the same way that working out makes me feel more confident in my body. There is more to life than how one looks, obviously--appearance is just one aspect of the total person. For me, personally, looking the best I can as long as I can is important--just as my volunteering, mothering, writing, and friendships are important. They're all part of me.

    As for the expense, one of the reasons I work is so that I have little extras. This didn't come out of the family budget--it came from my own discretionary income. I choose to buy my shoes from DSW instead of Nordstrom so that I have a little more money for things like this--or dinners out with friends, or gifts for loved ones, or cards, etc.

    I so appreciate you sharing your thoughts, and I love your approach to life & aging! Thank you!

  3. Hey Kim,
    Funny writing girl! What ever floats your boat, "To thine own self be true" & all those kinds of things. I KNOW our beautiful just the way you are, Botox or not. So your right, your friends do love you no matter what. The important thing is you feel good about yourself & if Botox, hair color, the gym & your diet help you to feel good then that's all that matters. With that being said I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes: Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Cabernet in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming..."WOO HOO! WHAT A RIDE!"
    Love you,
    Theresa Downey

  4. Hi Kim,
    I've enjoyed reading your blogs and thought I'd chime in on this one. Kudos to you for doing what was right for you.

    Another aspect of this issue can be from how others perceive you. I have the habit of "knitting" my eyebrows when I concentrate. I finally became aware that people at work were afraid to approach me because they thought I was angry. The furrow that grew between my eyes had given me the appearance of being cross.

    Several years ago I took a seminar in Botox injections and was "strongly encouraged" to receive treatment in order to know first hand how it felt. I got 2 units between my brows and was amazed at the results. People stopped asking me if I was angry all the time. Aside from that, my headaches went away!

    I think beauty comes from the inside and if you've become unhappy with an aspect of yourself it's likely to be projected in your demeanor. If there's something you can do about it, why not?

    I agree with Theresa, go skidding in sideways and if you happen to leave a good looking corps, more the better.

    By the way, I was thrilled to hear that Botox is only $10 a unit. I think it's time for me to go put on a happy face. :)

    Charlene Gerardi

  5. Very Good information.
    Kim !!! Thank you for sharing .
    and thks for commatators.

  6. Congratulations for taking that step--I'm glad it makes you feel more confident, etc. And you seem to take it "in moderation" which seems responsible. For me, and for people who really know you--it doesn't matter. I see your beauty inside and out. When/if the treatments "wear off" you will still be the same person I know and love.


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