beauty

"I'm 32, and I feel grateful for faces like Carey Mulligan's."

I noticed them on The Oscars red carpet, and I haven't stopped thinking about them since. 

Carey Mulligan and Amanda Seyfried, both nominated for Best Actress Oscars, both looking - well beautiful, obviously. Resplendent in their gowns and hair and makeup. But also, less taut, in that way we're used to seeing on red carpets. Both smiling, gracefully, the finest of lines on their foreheads.

Oh! Said internal me. This is what the face of a woman in her thirties looks like.

This is what my fine lines and little eye wrinkles look like. And aren't they ok? Aren't they absolutely, completely fine?

Carey Mulligan and Amanda Seyfried at the 2021 Oscars. Images: Getty. 

I know what you're going to say. 

Please, their fine lines are imperceptible.

To which I'd say yes, that's true. And we need to talk about why this still feels significant.

Both of these women are 35 and mothers of young children. Both work for a living and occasionally front up to glamorous red carpets.

I'm not saying I underestimate what "work" they might have had done, being Hollywood actresses. They have world-class makeup artists, skin therapists and cosmeticians at their disposal. They might be having regular resurfacing peels and laser treatments and derma-planing and who knows what else, what they do to their faces is their business. 

But it disturbed me, in that moment, how I found their minuscule forehead creases so refreshing.

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The moment was all the more significant because it happened on the very morning I was texting a girlfriend about where she had her injectables done. She is 30, and recently revealed over dinner that she'd taken the plunge and gotten Botox a few weeks back. She looked great - refreshed, well-slept, glowing. I felt rotten that night; the opposite of glowing (dimming?). I eagerly drunk in her account of the entire experience, as well as a very good pinot grigio, aware of the effects the booze was ravaging on my thirty-something skin.

The text was a follow-up. I'd had time to think about it, and on that morning The Oscars aired, I was ready to book a consultation. Maybe. Probably. Almost certainly.

But then I saw them. The tiny fine lines on the beautiful women. And a week on, I'm yet to schedule an appointment.

My colleague Jessie Stephens recently shared that she can't stop staring at people's foreheads. In a conversation about that, she put into words the relief I was feeling: "We're searching for visible fine lines so we have permission to wear our own."

Something to offset what we're seeing on Instagram; all that bouncy skin and barely a crease in sight. Filters or filler? Does it matter anymore?

I recently watched an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians where Kourtney and Kim were having a heated argument, but they were holding their faces very straight, and as I watched I nodded knowingly and thought, that's so they don't get frown lines.

And then I thought, when did this interrogation of other people's faces start? Why do I give an iota of a shit? I used to not. 

I used to feel like I had a choice.

If this feels relatable to you, well, of course it does.

Nowadays celebrities are always talking about it. The presence of it, the absence of it. Jennifer Lopez stringently denies ever going under the needle, but for Gwyneth Paltrow, lifting the taboo and talking candidly about the time she had a frozen forehead is terribly on-brand.

Listen: Kylie Skin. JLO Beauty. Goop. Are celebrity skincare lines worth it, or are they gaslighting us? Post continues below.

Long before skinfluencers, before influencers, before Kardashians, and when Gwyneth's wellness empire was just a glimmer in her eye, injectables were shrouded in secrecy: a private matter between you and your (not overtly marketed or signposted) cosmetic clinic.

I used to work in fashion magazines, and when editors had foreheads as tight as beach balls, it wasn't discussed. It just was. They darted off to 'appointments' at lunchtime and that was that. Now, we openly chat about our treatments between friends and family members, colleagues and Instagram acquaintances. We swap tips, share horror stories, weigh in on the options, talk about it all. And it's great. I'm so pleased the stigma is gone, because people can and should be able to opt in to any cosmetic treatment they please.

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But with that widespread acceptance comes a normalising. Comes Gwyneth actively endorsing anti-wrinkle injections for her frown lines.

And sometimes when a thing becomes so commonplace, to not have it becomes abnormal. Or at least it can feel that way.

Which is where, I think, my forehead FOMO came from. 

I'm 32. When I look in the mirror, I no longer see my early twenties baby skin. I see skin that sat in the sun for too long (yes, I know) and deep eye wrinkles from a face that's prone to smiling. My frown lines don't run as deep, but I know they're waiting in the wings.

This morning, I slapped on SPF50+ and two different serums and thought, I'll give it another year. I'll try to stop the damage now.

But it's an internal discussion that, at this point, feels like a given.

To Botox, or not to Botox?

In the meantime, I'll just try to keep a straight face.

For more from Tamara, follow her on Instagram.

Feature image: Getty/Mamamia.