beauty

"I was only 26 years old when a doctor tried to make me have Botox."

I was well into my twenties when I paid my first visit to a professional skin clinic.

All my life I’d wanted to hack a few of the beauty spots off my face and body. While I was there I also planned to do something about the acne scarring I’d been left with after years of teen acne.

It was all going well. The spots were removed and healing nicely, the acne scarring was fading, and I was up to what would be my last appointment when a well-dressed consultant suggested I have Botox.

“But I’m only 26,” I said to her, grabbing the nearest mirror to locate the wrinkes she’s obviously seen on my young, newly clear face.

“You don’t have wrinkles yet, Jo, and if you start getting Botox now you never will. It’s preventative.”

And I fell for it, hook, line and sinker, and if I had any money left after the expensive procedures I’d already paid for, I would have done it there and then.

Thank goodness I had no money left because it seems the whole “preventitive Botox” thing is a bit of a farce, with researcher Dana Berkowitz saying Botox providers seem to be increasingly targeting younger women.

 Dana Berkowitz tells Mia Freedman everything you need to know about Botox on No Filter

Dana Berkowitz is a researcher and Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Louisina State University.

She studies gender, bodies and embodiment and feminist theories, among many other fields, and has written the book Botox Nation: Changing the Face of America which is the first in-depth social investigation into Botox as a cultural phenomenon.

Berkowitz wanted to use Botox as a lens through which to view how norms about body, gender and ageing are constructed and reproduced “on cultural and individual levels” and will tens of millions of women now regular Botox users around the world, it’s effects on us personally, professionally and socially are far-reaching and more embedded than we first realise.

Particularly now that Botox is being marketed to younger and younger women, even those in their early twenties.

“I saw this again in the pictures of magazines and I saw this – when I spoke to Botox providers – because I heard things like, in the magazines, Botox is a pre-emptive strike, you wanna think of your face as a house, you wanna speckle the walls before the roof just caves in…clean up your room before it gets dirty, and I can’t remember the exact words but something along the lines of you wanna go to the doctor before you go to the cardiologist,” Berkowitz told Mia Freedman on No Filter.

Mia said she thinks she knows more women in the twenties and thirties getting Botox than those in their forties, with women in their forties more torn about it and younger women more matter-of-fact about it, due in part to the fact it is preventative.

Can Botox really be preventative or is that just the line we are being fed so Botox providers can increase their profits?

“It’s complicated,” Berkowitz said. “It’s preventative if you keep getting it every four to six months or three to six months for the rest of your life and so it’s preventative in the sense that you won’t be able to make that expression and you won’t get those “elevens” [two lines between your eyes] but once you stop – it’s not like it prevents ageing, nothing can prevent ageing, we’re all gonna age, and we’re all gonna wrinkle.”

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Patsy from Ab-Fab attempting DIY Botox. Image: BBC

"It won't paralyse our entire face, it can't do that because we need to talk, we need to blink our eyes, and so you end up recruiting from different facial muscles and so you will inevitably get wrinkles elsewhere. You'll also lose volume in your face."

That must mean that if you do make the decision to begin preventative Botox at a young age you are merely swapping one set of wrinkles for another.

And despite what Botox providers want you to believe, it can't reverse or prevent ageing, plus there's the gateway factor. I was worried Botox would be my gateway drug, that once I started altering my appearance with something that requried a needle I'd be more open to other procedures such as lip fillers, tattoo eyeliner or even a new chin.

You can be a feminist and get Botox, of course you can.

Who of us doesn't colour our hair or apply makeup. It's okay to care about your appearance. But I'd agree with Berkowitz when she said Botox isn't empowering, there's nothing empowering about it.

To go to the expense and effort of getting something as intrusive as Botox is a completely different sphere of what can be classed as general upkeep or even grooming.

That is until they invent DIY Botox you can store in your fridge and inject whenever it is needed.

A bit like those home teeth whitening kids that we use and misuse.

Listen to the full episode of Dana Berkowitz on No Filter.

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