May 28th, 2011
At 61, I think the issue that drives beauty is the spirit or life force within – letting that escape to express the inner person we are is the answer – that makes beauty and passion and life. When I see these women with the “frozen” features all that goes through my mind is how vain they are, how foolish they are for believing that wearing a mask will make you look younger and better – it doesn’t – it makes women look stupid and vapid. I lose my interest in listening to them or watching them because I think they are very foolish. I would love to have my face and body skin go back to the way it was in my 30’s and 40’s – is there some way for scientists to make products that address the loss of collagen in older skin to bring back its freshness and glow? So we can look like who we are – not like the frozen zombies we see on TV and in the movies? I would bet there could be good money in that – I know there could be good money in that –
Funny how this is a tougher subject to broach than almost any other. We find ourselves recalibrating the intimacy of friendships. While once we may have been close enough to share personal tales of broken hearts or fears of going broke, we are unable to visit the issue of the broken self-image.
And that’s what this must be about. We gaze in the mirror, and we loathe the evidence of aging. It is, surely, a change. It is even frightening. Mortality heaves into view. So does unemployment — for women. There seems to be a double standard about aging and leadership.
Feminists worry why women still make only 77 cents to every dollar a man makes, not whether women are going broke on Botox.
This is about the birth of yet another “ism” among boomers: ageism. We’ve crossed a line; we are angry that we’re growing old. We’re angry at people who remind us what aging looks like. We are colluding in an elaborate social compact to convince ourselves that we don’t have to go there. And no one wants to say that the Emperor and Empress look better with naked faces.
The woman who did more to set in gear the feminine rhythms of the fashion industry did not live to see how far appearances could be manipulated: beyond her wildest dreams. But she would have been dismayed by the messy reality.
We’ve reached a stage where cosmetic surgery is so readily available that in certain circles it is expected of women and men to avail themselves of these age-deniers. (You cannot call them youth-enhancers when you are no longer young.) If you choose not to partake of the benefits of needle and knife, you are judged to be making a statement. You are taking a position against the current standards of beauty.
One evening, I catch a segment on television about nuclear disarmament. A celebrity spokesperson makes a case for the laying down of arms, and part of my brain clicks into gear: she’s smart and passionate. But another part of me is distracted, because the visuals don’t match the message. Her forehead isn’t wrinkling with concern; her cheeks aren’t crinkling with smiles; her eyes aren’t narrowing in suspicion at trick questions. In fact, no matter what she says, her face is frozen in place. It is grotesquely fascinating — and undermining.
By DOMINIQUE BROWNING
Published: May 26, 2011
Botox: A shot at happiness
From Friday’s Globe and Mail
Botox injections could give you more than a Nicole Kidman-smooth forehead. They might actually make you happier. In a new study about the psychological effects of the muscle-paralyzing drug, researchers have found that patients who freeze their frown lines seem to enjoy a boost in mood.
Michael Lewis, an experimental psychologist at Cardiff University in Wales, teamed up with a chain of British cosmetic surgery clinics to follow 25 women who had undergone various facial procedures. Twelve patients had had Botox injected into their glabellar frown lines, or the furrows between the eyebrows, and 13 patients had received other treatments. Patients filled out questionnaires including the Irritability-Depression-Anxiety Scale, a psychological test.
The Botox group scored significantly lower on measures of anxiety and depression. And merely looking younger or refreshed didn’t explain the difference; both groups were about equally happy with their new appearances.
Dr. Lewis suspects a phenomenon linking facial expression and emotions, called “facial feedback,” is at work. The idea that the act of frowning itself can make a person unhappier – and that smiling can trigger happiness – was first suggested by Charles Darwin, and there is a growing body of evidence that it may be true.
But Dr. Lewis says Botox’s possible psychological consequences aren’t necessarily all positive. His future research will look at the downside of clipped facial emotions. “For instance, imagine a teacher who wants to communicate anger to her class,” he says.
No word on whether he’s concerned about the Nicole Kidmans of the world being unable to use their faces to act.