So a funny thing happened last night…and I don’t mean ‘ha ha’ funny.
A woman on Instagram – a stranger – accidentally sent a message, about me but intended for her friend, to me directly instead.
This woman (let’s call her Rebecca) was commenting on my appearance. Rebecca felt passionate about the fact that, in her eyes, I have had ‘way too much cheek filler’ and she had ‘felt that way about my face’ for a long time.
After reading it I responded “This message was meant to be for your friend, not me, wasn’t it?”
And then I sat and thought about how the situation made me feel. Because, oddly, it made me a feel a few different ways all at the same time.
First up, I felt the need to defend the fact that I have never had cheek fillers. Not because I’m anti ‘having work done’ – I’ve spoken openly about what I do to my face on more than one occasion and the doctor who does it for me has posted about it, too.
For the record, I’ve been getting Botox for close to a decade in varying periods of frequency.
Many have heard the now humorous but at the time disastrous experience I had with a new form of lip filler at age 21 that had to be surgically removed and has left me with a lopsided top lip forever.
I also enjoy a procedure under my eyes called Beauty Boost which is Hyaluronic acid injected with a series of tiny needles, a bit like Dermastap, that stimulates hydration and plumps my deep insomnia-induced dark circles.
Swipe across to see my forever lopsided top lip.
But back to the cheeks. The reason I haven’t had cheek filler is because all you need to do is take a look at a photo of me from my early 20s to understand that volume in that area has never been lacking.
I had a very chubby face right up until my late 20s, so much so I could give Bert Newton a run for his money. It wasn’t until my early and into my mid 30s that I had any sort of angles to my face at all. If I had had cheek filler – or if I ever do get it in the future – I’ll say so.
My second thought was that this isn't really about cheek filler. It's about a culture we've created whereby we mentally separate the 'thing' from the 'person' and so when we criticise people's looks we feel like it's sort of okay.
Because we're saying the 'work' they've had done is bad, and the work has no feelings. But in reality we are judging a person and deeming them unsatisfactory for the way they look. We are criticising who that person is.
We're living in a funny age of feminism because some feminist circles will tell you that getting filler or botox - or even having veneers or hair extensions - means you're conforming to an oppressive ideal of what women are supposed to aim to look like.
Whereas feminism, to me, is letting all women go about their lives putting whatever they like in their face because it's their face and their money and their happiness.
My third feeling about the whole situation came shortly after I messaged Rebecca. Because she replied.
Rebecca sent a long and genuine apology explaining that when she'd realised what she had done earlier in the day she tried unfollowing and blocking me in the hope that it'd make the message disappear before I'd seen it.
When that didn't work, instead of Rebecca just ghosting (which would have been the much easier thing to do) she owned it, unblocking me so she could say sorry.
"I've felt horrible all day thinking I've upset you. Who am I to make judgement on someone else? I can't apologise enough. As a woman I know how what other people say can stay in your head and make you feel horrible, and I am ashamed...please don't take any notice of me saying a gossipy bitchy thing like that. I really am ashamed I've made a comment on something I know nothing about."
And THAT, ladies, is how you totally own a mistake. Rebecca showed up and faced the situation with courage and grace. It takes guts to deal with something uncomfortable when the other option - in this case ignoring/deleting/blocking - is far easier and has zero consequences.
Women are odd, aren't they? Collectively aiming for the same thing while simultaneously indulging in behaviour that divides us.
But in this case I thank Rebecca. For having the guts to take it like a woman. And for reminding me I'm well overdue for my next round of Botox.