• Thu, Jul 28 2011

She Said/She Said: The Botox Debate

Statistics show that youth, weight and height are factors in how much people are paid – especially for women. Those who are tall, thin and younger tend to get jobs more easily, and even make more than those who have the same set of skills and education.

As members of a society that places such an importance on looks, would you change your appearance – perhaps, tweak it a bit, if it meant getting ahead professionally?

Even those who don’t work in the movie and modeling industry have given mild plastic surgery, specifically Botox, a whirl. When Hillary Clinton ran for president such emphasis was put on whether she had or had not received injections, that it became clear, yet again, that the political playing field still wasn’t even for men and women. No one was questioning or even suggesting if John McCain had gotten some work done (although clearly he has not). Some even thought that if Clinton had removed a few of those wrinkles, it would have helped – or at the very least, she’d look less old and wrinkly during all those debates.

Freelance writer and The Grindstone contributor, Amanda Green is adamantly against Botox. Amanda Chatel, the associate editor of The Grindstone, is just waiting for the day that her piggy bank is full enough to start her injections. The two women have extremely different opinions on the matter. To be honest, had there been a chair in the room, one might have been thrown.

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Chatel: We live in a society where looks are everything. Studies show that tall, thin people, on average, make more than short, fat people. There’s also the issue of youth. Some women feel that by getting Botox, it will help their careers.

While I would never tell someone else they should get Botox – beside my mom, of course – I think if I thought it would help my career, I’d go for it. Would you?

Green: I’m all for aging gracefully, and I’ve got the $80 eye cream to prove it. But Botox scares me. Yes, it’s common. Yes, lots of people get it done. It’s still injecting poison into your face. Poison. In your face.

Those vanished lines are a side effect of facial paralysis. In any other context, we’d probably avoid such a fate. (There’s no other example of paralysis being construed as hot or so youthful-looking.
Paralyzed people don’t choose their loss of feeling. We feel bad for them. We try to rehabilitate them.)

Ageism sucks, and I don’t need to tell you it affects women more than men. Women buy into it all the time. And past the age of 12, no woman wants to look older than she is. This is a legitimate reason for
working out, wearing eye cream, eating well, and staying out of the sun. But no one should put poisonous needles in her face to “stay hot” or “be taken seriously.”

Chatel: I completely disagree.

We put so many poisons in to our bodies… what’s one more? And at least Botox is only skin-deep, it’s not as though we’re ingesting this version of botulism. Why the hell should anyone have to grow old gracefully if science can prevent it? Granted, I’m not suggesting I’d make my face look like Joan Rivers‘ – I mean, she’s way too pretty for words and I have enough stalkers as it is – but a few injections here. and a nip there would do worlds of wonder.

Even though I’m not an actress and my career isn’t based on my looks, I love youth. I won’t let it go without a fight… so yeah, hand over the Botox, I’ll definitely sign up for it.

Also, Amanda, creams do not work. I don’t care how much you paid for it. I have a $120 French moisturizer in my medicine cabinet. Do I look 15? Hell no. Do I want to look 15? Hell yes.

You might as well throw out your $80 eye cream and quit kidding yourself.

Green: First off, I have to defend my eye cream. It contains retinol, so it’s actually proven to work.

I’m not going to pretend that life isn’t carcinogenic. I’m not a crunchy tree-hugger myself. I use real deodorant. I don’t know if my shampoo was tested on animals, or how many chemicals it has in it. And organic tampons skeeve me out.

But I do know that Botox isn’t as safe as everyone originally thought. One study in 2008 found that botulism affects nerve cells and may indeed migrate to the brain. More recent studies discuss how the inability to form normal facial expressions decreases empathy.

And who wants to work with someone who can’t communicate empathy because her face is frozen?

I’ve been doing a little research of my own — I’ve got a PhD in The Real Housewives of Orange County — and holy shit! It’s a slippery slope. A lot of these minor nips and tucks and injections end up needing more maintenance. Botox, after all, paralyzes and then weakens muscles. You’ll look droopy once it wears off.

And for the record, you do look young for your age. Be Sophia Loren, not Kathy Griffin.

Chatel: Well I know for a fact that my shampoo was not tested on animals. I use baking soda and vinegar to clean instead of harsh chemicals and yes, I use organic tampons that don’t have wasteful cardboard applicators. Perhaps my concern for animals and the environment is deeper than the one I have for myself. Although I fear Botox may have been tested on an innocent bunny somewhere along the line…

However, (and thank you for the compliment, as I do agree with you. I am quite young – and stunning – looking), someday I’m going to not only be old but look old. This was not part of the plan. You see, I did not want this old thing that’s headed my way. When I see the drooping knees of older women in shorts or above-knee skirts, I want to shake them and tell them to either shove some Botox in there or stick to pants – the world does not want to see it!

Take two businesswomen in the same perfectly fitting suit, make them exactly the same from head to two EXCEPT make one 10-15 years older than the other. You want to know who’s going to come out on top? I don’t think I have to tell you. And this isn’t me being sexist – you know, before someone calls me that yet again – this is me being aware of our society’s demands and perceptions. Do you see what I mean?

And FYI, at the end of my life, I will have been a Sophia Loren rather than a Kathy Griffin… Griffin is trashy, I wasn’t raised to be trashy, nor was I was raised to be shallow, but I just am.

Green: You know what else used to be part of “society’s demands and perceptions”? That good women stay home with the kids.

Women are treated more like sexual objects than men. It’s an unfortunate fact, and it’s not going to change anytime soon. But this is something we have to fight. Injecting your face with chemicals doesn’t exactly say, “I’m more than my face and body — wrinkled or not.” To me, it sends a message more like, “I care so much about being young, I’m going to inject myself with a poison that used to kill people.”

Uh, hello! Not exactly progress.

I know appearance matters. A savvy woman of any age will come to an interview well-dressed and put together. But part of what makes someone marketable is her experience, and getting older is part of getting experienced. Women hired for their looks do have to sweat every gray hair or wrinkle. Women hired for their brains don’t. (And if you ever don’t get a job in the business world, merely because you have crow’s feet, you can file a lawsuit.)

Chatel: My response is this: “I care so much about being young, I’m going to inject myself with a poison that used to kill people.”

You know what I did in the bathroom this morning for at least 20 minutes? I plucked about 30 grey hairs from my head. I’d dye it, but since it’s the summer and I’m beach bum, it would just turn reddish – I loathe the reddish.

Also, do you know that I’m the oldest in this office? Do you know the complex I have about it? So fuck yeah, my next birthday I plan on starting that Botox fund. If you want to come with me to my first appointment, I invite you to join in the fun.

Maybe you’ll feel differently when you’re practically 80 like me.

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  • Em

    This is the most depressing post ever.

    As if women didn’t already have enough demands, the pressure to constantly look good is overwhelming.

    I totally get wanting to look good, but here’s the thing. People age. We live, we grow old and we will look it eventually. Fighting it requires countless amounts of energy, time and money. Not everyone has the resources to put into looking like young it’s really unfortunate that society punishes those that don’t look like a nymph.

    It is really sad that we can’t just age graciously, since any aging is seen as a negative thing.