I had been wearing the same pants for three days trekking through the humid heat in Sri Lanka. Finally, I had Wi-Fi and texted my best friend from home. I was lying under a fan trying to soothe my sunburnt body. “I got Botox today!” she exclaimed.
We’ve always been very different, and I can’t say I was necessarily surprised, but we’re only 22, I wanted to respond. “You’re a beaut. With or without the tox,” I replied. I supported her by saying she didn’t need it, but if it makes her feel good about herself I’m happy for her.
So many thoughts began running through my mind. Is everyone getting Botox and I’m the only one who doesn’t know? Where did she get the idea to consider Botox at such a young age? Was it society? Family? Friends? Me? Did I have an impact on making her feel less?
I thought of a million reasons why it was wrong. And they all were unsettling. Then I went back to review our messages. My initial response may not have been my first reaction, but it put me to ease. If she has higher self-confidence after a Botox treatment, then what should hold her back? Should she be shamed by society enough to get this treatment and then shamed by society again for getting the treatment?
The media. That’s always the answer, right? It’s an easy thing to blame— distant enough to not take personally, yet still a major role in our daily lives. People feel as if they cannot show their story, show the skin that has seen the sun, has seen the world, and has seen their growth. So, they take action. But it is not socially acceptable to speak about it, it must stay unspoken, or it will be looked down upon.
Women often are shamed into changing, but after making the change rarely does it solve the problem because there is no problem to solve. Anything you aren’t is everything they want. Balancing the media’s influence and other people’s opinions with genuinely feeling content about our physical appearance can seem near impossible.
The stigma attached to elective cosmetic procedures is belittling. For the use of publishing photographs, there is Photoshop, but to have a resembling effect in the flesh, must one undertake more drastic measures, even if non-invasive.
There is a high degree of pressure to meet society’s expectations, yet one is condemned for it. It’s an endless cycle, a vicious trap that limits one’s ability to have pride in themselves.
A few days later I turned on the light in the bathroom and got as close to the mirror as possible. Is that a wrinkle?