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?? 

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