I first noticed them when I was 45. I was getting ready to snap a picture of a cake I’d baked for my husband’s birthday when I realized the camera was set on “selfie.” I expected to see my awesome chocolate strawberry masterpiece but instead I saw my reflection… and it was jolting.
The woman staring back at me had the beginning of jowls and faint crow’s feet around her eyes. Some people call those "laugh lines," but I don’t see anything funny about them. What captured my attention on this day were the two deep vertical grooves between my eyes. It looked like someone had taken a Sharpie and written the number 11 on my forehead.
“When did those show up?” I wondered. The jowls, the crow’s feet, the slight sagging of my face were all things I’d noticed before. I knew time was marching on. It seemed like time was marching all over my face and as much as I didn’t like that, I never had any illusions that I was going to look the same in my 40s and 50s as I had in my 20s. I mean… of course I wasn’t.
But these “elevens” were something else.
I forgot about the cake and went to a real mirror and inspected myself more closely. These deep lines seemed to have materialized overnight. And by deep I mean deep enough for a blackhead to hang out in, as I discovered upon a more thorough examination.
So I not only have to deal with pimples and wrinkles at the same time, I have to put up with pimples in the wrinkles? Is there even a name for that? WTF, universe?
I decided right then and there that I would get Botox injections.
Botox had been around for years by then and its use seemed pretty commonplace. For those who don’t know, Botox is a drug made from a toxin. I won’t make this a science lesson, but in a nutshell, it’s injected into the skin and blocks signals from the nerve to the muscle and causes wrinkles to relax.
I’m kind of a weenie about pain and I always swore to myself that I’d never let vanity take over to the point where I’d endure something that hurt in the name of looking good. My beauty routine -- if you want to call it that -- had always been pretty simple, and I thought the old saying “beauty is pain” was stupid.
The appearance of those elevens changed things for me.
I’m not sure why they bothered me so much. I’d accepted other signs that my body was aging without too much complaint: gray hair, gray chin hair, constipation, peeing when I laughed too hard. Maybe it was the angle of my camera that caught me so off guard. Maybe it was that damn blackhead nestled inside a facial line… I mean, come on. Maybe I’d watched just one too many commercials for pharmaceuticals and I knew that I could make those grooves between my eyes vanish for a price.
I’ve been getting Botox injections in my forehead twice a year for over four years. It certainly isn’t free and although my inbox tells me there are some sweet deals to be had on Groupon, facial injections aren’t exactly something I’d want to scrimp on anyway. I am not rich and I don’t have money to throw around, but I budget for my Botox because it’s important to me. It’s something I do for me.
Women spend money on makeup, tooth bleaching, hair extensions and all kinds of stuff because it makes them feel good to look good. Botox is no different. It makes me feel better to not have to see those deep lines between my eyes every time I look in a mirror.
I don’t suffer from any delusion that I’m cheating time. Contrary to whatever stereotypes are out there, I’m not trying to look like a Barbie doll and my face doesn’t look like it’s made of plastic.
And, it’s Botox, not heroin. I don’t have to use larger and larger quantities to “get my fix” and achieve the same result -- in fact, just the opposite. I use the same amount of Botox as I did four years ago when I started, but with less recurrence. Regular use can have a positive effect like that.
Using Botox in my forties doesn’t mean I’ll automatically want to get my eyes done in my 50s or a face lift in my 60s. I’m happy with my current routine.
Regular Botox doesn’t mean that I don’t accept myself or that I’m superficial or shallow. I make no distinction between what I’m doing, and splurging for a really nice bag. It’s something I do for myself. It makes me happy.
Yes, I know getting a needle jabbed in my face carries more risk than getting highlights, but I accept that risk and mitigate it. I’m not getting injected with a dirty needle in a back alley somewhere. I go to a reputable dermatologist. I’m secure with my choices.
I have no plans to stop getting the injections. They’re part of my beauty routine and although I am under no illusions that I’m stopping time or making myself younger, I am making myself happier.
I know that what’s on the inside is more important than the window dressing but looking good on the outside makes me feel good on the inside -- and that’s important to me.
Those “elevens” made me sad when I look in the mirror. I’ve decided I don’t want to look at them and thanks to modern medicine I can opt out of certain lines and wrinkles. And, why not?
Someone once asked me why I don’t just save my money and give in to aging gracefully. I say it’s my money and there’s nothing graceful about aging. I am aging gratefully… living my life in a way that makes me happy and appreciating every day I have to live it.