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?