Reassurance for Anyone Opting Out of Botox

Trust me, I get it. In a photo of yourself, you notice lines where there used to be smoothness, or deep crevices in place of faint lines. (“When did that happen?!?”) Meanwhile, continually more women are opting to freeze their facial muscles with Botox—and similar procedures—and regarding every crease that appears, society seems to scream, “Erase!” 

Now in my late 30s, I’ve lived in some of the most looks-centric places in the world, worked extensively in fashion and film and struggled with a severe eating disorder I’ve thankfully moved past. I now spend most of my time in the field of women’s empowerment. While my path hasn’t made me immune to “anti-aging” pressure, it has given me some helpful tools and perspective.

There's beauty and depth in aging.

There’s beauty and depth in aging.

First, an important point: I am not out to shun anyone who chooses cosmetic procedures. I promise. Whatever a woman decides to do to her body or appearance is 1000% her decision, and deserving of respect. This post is for women who, like me, have needed reassurance for their decision not to go under the needle. While there are countless examples, headlines, advertisements and articles to advocate for Botox, too few support women’s decision to opt out. If you relate to the latter, read on.

Whether you want to embrace your aging face as-is for social reasons (how sad is it that not getting Botox practically makes one an activist?), to save funds, to avoid unnecessary chemicals or just because, your decision is a worthy one.

The following facts have reassured me on rainy (read aesthetically self-critical) days.

Botox isn’t risk-free.  

While Botox is considered relatively safe short-term, the treatment has only been used for wrinkles since the late 1990s. It’s too soon to know of any long-term complications. That it’s made from a toxin that causes the life-threatening form of food poisoning known as botulism isn’t exactly appealing. Physician Dr. Jennifer Hanes advises folks to take caution when considering Botox, and says it’s possible that the treatment could make you look older over time. By paralyzing the muscles repeatedly, they may atrophy. Only time will tell.

There are more important and enlivening ways to invest your money. 

Botox treatments average around $525 per treatment, according to numerous sources, and regulars have three to four treatments per year—totaling $1575 – $2100 annually. Imagine how many starving children you could feed or animals you could save with that cash. If you were to smartly save or invest those funds, they’d really add up—which is important, considering the gender inequality in retirement funds. Women generally make and save less money, and live longer, than men. You could also invest those funds into building your dream business or pursuing a passion. All of these options seem more valuable to me than minimizing wrinkles.

Expressiveness is beautiful. 

Chances are, you don’t stand in front of the mirror and express yourself. If you’ve considered Botox, you’ve probably paused to stare and analyze, frowning or perma-grinning in seek of “flaws,” but we seldom catch ourselves in the act of expressing—which is often when we’re at our loveliest. Research (and likely all of our experience) shows that we’re attracted to radiant expressions, such as genuine smiles. Genuine is a key word here, because, in some cases, procedures like Botox detract from perceived authenticity. Those lines around our eyes? They show realness. Trustworthiness. Beauty. Life.

You aren’t ugly. Societal messaging is.

Imagine if we lived in a culture that celebrated aging, rather than shunned it. What if women were considered distinguished, the way men often are, for aging? Might we see beauty in the lines “anti-aging” procedures lessen? I sure think so. We can only change societal messaging from the ground up—starting in our own lives. Girls are getting Botox as early as age 13 now, according to ABC News. That is horrifying to me. If they didn’t see it in adults, they wouldn’t even be tempted.

If you decide against Botox, express yourself boldly, letting lines appear where they will, knowing that intentional or not, you’ll likely have a positive impact on others. While you’re at it, invest your time and energy into whatever matters more to you. I can almost guarantee it’ll be worth it.

How do you feel about Botox? If you’ve considered (or tried) it, then opted out, what was your reason? What steps do you take to embrace aging in general?

Leave a comment


  1. I don’t judge others for treatments. Most of my friends have done some kind of injection to their faces, but personally, I don’t care for the look, at all. Smooth, but weird alien-looking faces aren’t more appealing to me than natural aging. I don’t think it’s the answer. Thing is, if a person’s skin is prone to a lot of wrinkles, it will continue to stretch out with every injection. By the time they are in their 70’s, they will be unrecognizable. Did you see a certain woman yesterday after the Broncos win? It seems super mean to call her out, but a good example of what I am talking about.
    I rather go natural and believe me, my skin is far from perfect. Ironically, I’m getting my first facial in 15 years, this week. It took me forever to make an appointment. I got a series of glycolic peels a long time ago and they dramatically changed my skin’s texture.
    I think the trend to micro-focus on appearance and aging is a setback for women. Don’t you?

    • I absolutely agree that micro-focusing on our appearance and aging is a setback – and really sad. It’s gotten worse with the digital age (I read that even neck surgeries have shot up in popularity due to selfies). It’s such a huge money market that it’s unlikely to diminish any time soon. It reminds me of the dieting industry, in that way. While I respect women’s decisions to do as they wish, too, it’s so important that there are women (like you!) who freely embrace their aesthetics as-is. The world so needs such examples. PS Enjoy that facial! Caring for our skin can be an awesome form of self-care. 🙂

    • Great wisdom, Susie, plus, you are beautiful as you are, which I guess is August’s point.

  2. Everyone must do what they must do to be happy. Personally, I choose not to have any procedures at all, now or in the future. In my opinion, I have earned every one of my lines/wrinkles, (not that I have THAT many, yet 😉 ), and am proud for them to show on my face. I have gone one step further than that, too, August, since we last met. As you know, I don’t wear makeup, also through choice, but I have now chosen to forego my hair-dyeing ritual in favour of my “whitening” natural colour. I do still go for a straightening product to eliminate frizz/unruly curl/flyaway wisps, but I now OWN my hair colour the same way as I own my skin and body.
    Just to be clear to everyone else… This is MY choice alone and I don’t judge anyone who can’t or won’t do the same. Each to their own, right? Love ya xox

    • Oh, I love this, Alice. Indeed, everyone has the right to do as they please. There’s no right or wrong. In today’s culture, though, it makes me really happy to see examples of folks embracing themselves as-is and feeling empowered by that. Inspiring. 🙂 Much love back!

      • It actually is empowering. And think of the money and time saved from not buying and applying makeup and hair dye 😉 (I only do the straightener once every few months and it’s CHEAP 😉 )

  3. Reblogged this on Alice White Author and commented:
    August does it again with this superb blog. BRAVO! I agree with everything she has said here.

  4. My (former) dentist tried to convince me to have some Botox treatments while I was unable to talk in the dentist chair! Needless to say, I now have a new dentist.
    As a 50-something woman, my face is different than it was when I was twenty-six. But I don’t mind the changes; I think it’s more interesting now. But, like you, I don’t judge anyone for doing whatever they need to do to feel good about themselves. Whatever it takes. However, if you’re going to talk to me about such procedures Mr. Dentist Dude, then please wait until my mouth isn’t stuffed with dental implements. HAH!

    • Oh, wow. I’ve heard that more and more dentists are offering the services, but pushing them when you can’t speak seems extreme! I love that you’re embracing your aging face as it is.

      • Heh heh…there are mornings (after little sleep) where I stare at my reflection and think, OMG. I LOOK LIKE KEITH RICHARDS! But for the most part, I’m okay with aging (so far). As long as I can work to maintain strength, hike up the mountain where I live, keep my mind open to new ideas, maintain my sense of humour, and give back a little, then so far so good. 🙂

      • I love it, Dusty. Humor and focusing on what matters most helps hugely. I’m a WIP in this regard, too, but every step counts. It also helps to connect with likeminded folks–so thank you!

  5. Not ever considering Botox on my face. Ageing may not be attactive to all, however I earned everyone of these lines and grey hairs. Everyone’s definition of beauty and self acceptance is different. I choose to embrace my ageing.

  6. MPL

     /  January 25, 2016

    Such a great article! Really appreciate the perspective.

  7. I expect to continue advancing into old age with nothing but Neutragena and drugstore anti-wrinkle cream by my side. I’m pretty low maintenance, and the upkeep Botox would require is as unappealing to me as the potential side effects. And I agree, natural expression is the most beautiful. But I’m not on camera in the entertainment industry, so I don’t judge people who choose to have it. The pressure heaped upon them must be enormous, so I can’t fault them for doing what they feel they need to.

    • I relate to all of that, and you’re so right about the pressure in the entertainment business. I know actresses who grapple with feeling the need to appear perpetually young (which, sadly, leads to more job opportunities) and the inability to express themselves fully. I’m so grateful that some openly embrace their aging faces as they are. We need those examples on the big screen.

  8. Thank you for providing some support for those of us who go “au naturale.” I never wear makeup and in my twenties I vowed never to have anything cosmetic done. Of course, now that I’m twice as old, I’ll admit that I sometimes have the “OMG it’s Keith Richards!” response mentioned by DustySpider when I look in the mirror. My solution? I try not to look in the mirror. I don’t feel wrinkly inside!

    It’s very difficult to swim against the tide of prevailing culture, and those of us who choose to do it need all the support we can get. And messages about self-acceptance are especially powerful coming from someone like you who has been through such a transformation.

    • Ah, the good old mirror avoidance technique! 😉 That can really help shift focus to what counts. I wish we could change societal standards; we dislike wrinkles and other signs of aging largely because we’re taught to. (And the world is so much more forgiving and accepting of guys’ aging — appearing “distinguished,” versus “old.”) We can make a difference in our own lives, though, which does extend to others. Wishing you the best, Audrey!

  9. August, I’m reminded of my late stepmother. She had several facelifts over the years. I realize that’s not exactly the same as Botox, but there is a parallel. By the time she was in her sixties, she looked at least eighty. Someone once said, “You can’t fool Mother Nature.”

  10. As much as I want to say: I’ll never do that (Botox)! Here I am, happily coloring my hair every 8-10 weeks, straightening it with every shampoo, and wearing make-up. So, even though I choose not to do what we view as “cosmetic procedures,” I really am having cosmetic procedures done. But, when I go to the beach or pool, I don’t wear make-up, I let my hair dry naturally and I love it. So, I don’t know…I like myself natural and not so natural!

    • Really good point, Amy, though Botox, and similar procedures, seem a lot riskier to me. Like high heels, I think knowing potential risks and exploring why we do certain things is important–making informed, self-nurturing decisions. If it doesn’t hurt and does empower, that’s a groovy thing. 🙂

  11. Reblogged this on Reading, Drinking and Dancing with a Chaser of Snark and commented:
    “You aren’t ugly. Societal messaging is.” X 100,000,000

    Right. On. August. Right on!

    I believe in adults doing any body modifications they want to, as long as they understand the risks/repercussions and does not harm anyone else. Inherent in that, is the right to NOT do anything to themselves, for the same reasons.

    No one has the right, even if they think they “know best,” to shame another human being. I am always astounded when “well-meaning” people make comments on or about others’ appearance.

    To the “well-meander” I say, bless your hearts, in my best Southern G.R.I.T.s tone. In other words, be nice or be quiet.

  12. I think Botox sucks. Big time. For all sorts of reasons – not least of them being that it’s derived ultimately from botulinum toxin – a waste product of the anaerobic respiration of Clostridium botulinum bacteria – which I believe is one of the deadliest substances known aside from plutonium (you need only inhale a few nanograms per kg of body-weight for botulinum-A toxin to kill you). I understand there are some excellent and beneficial medical applications, but after it was approved for cosmetic use in 2002 things were all on. Is there any data on long-term effects of usage? No – no time! Or side effects that might emerge after years? No – well, not yet. As with all this stuff I put a lot down to the way it’s been marketed – down to the intersection between industrial society, the profit motive, and the way marketing has used human self-validation as a very powerful lever to sell a lot of things. I think I can feel a blog post coming up on that conceptual issue – it’s bedevilled the western world for a couple of centuries…

    • I’d love to read that blog post, Matthew! The “no known long-term risks” drives me bananas. It’s so misleading, considering how new Botox is. That and profiting on women’s (and some men’s) insecurities – the very ones the industry triggers and perpetuates – are enough reason for me to steer clear.

  13. angelagoodnight

     /  January 26, 2016

    I don’t think botox can help necks. When I got into my late fifties my neck became scrawny and there is no hiding it. Okay, when you go out you can wear a high-necked dress and I have some pearls which hide almost two inches if I spend time linking them with clips, but when the clothes come off the scrawn is still there. I understand I could have loose skin cut away, but it puts the fear of God into me.

    I’m now 65 and don’t suppose I’ll ever do anything about it. Peter doesn’t mind and that’s probably all which matters in the end analysis.

    Thanks for the article.

    • I bet your neck is lovely, Angela. It’s amazing how we can see beauty in others, while criticizing ourselves, isn’t it? Sounds like you have a great guy in your life – which really helps.

  14. I wouldn’t have botox but if I win the lottery I have several bits I might consider lifting, sucking, and tucking but I have to say I do find it scary how much a few lines can freak out especially younger people who don’t even have them yet, I think it all becomes a question re-addressing how we think about them, those lines at the corner of my mouth well they are a trophy of time spent in happiness and laughter with good friends and I wouldn’t change those for the world :D;

    • I love that — “a trophy of time.” Amen! It really is a matter of perspective. In cultures where aging is embraced, physical signs are, too.

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