Learning To Embrace My Wrinkles In A Botox-Obsessed World

IS AGING EXCLUDED FROM THE SELF-ACCEPTANCE MOVEMENT?

 

During my late twenties, I never felt like I was aging, or at least I didn’t feel like there was any visible evidence of my increasing age, especially on my face. But over the last few years, and especially this past year, I’ve noticed a new set of wrinkles around my eyes, mouth, and forehead that weren’t previously there. 

These changes are especially evident when I look through old photos of myself smiling. I can’t help but notice how my eyes have sunken a bit, my forehead looks a tad more textured and somehow crow’s feet, which were previously never a concern, out of nowhere, now are.

I try to remind myself that my wrinkles, these crow’s feet, are an indication of happiness, of laughter—but if I’m being really honest, it terrifies me that they are already prominent at 32. What will they look like when I’m 40?! 

When I talk with my friends about the visible impacts of being in our 30s, most of them suggest Botox, a protein that temporarily weakens or paralyzes muscles from contracting, and thus smoothing out any wrinkles. “It’s really not harmful,” my friends encourage. “Almost everyone gets Botox now,” they say. And even when I push against their claims, I hear the same response over and over again, “It’s also preventative.” 

“It’s really not harmful,” my friends encourage. “Almost everyone gets Botox now,” they say. And even when I push against their claims, I hear the same response over and over again, “It’s also preventative.”

Alexandra D’amour

Botox is used for a slew of other reasons besides ironing out unwanted wrinkles. It’s proven to be a helpful treatment against chronic migraines, excessive sweating, or overactive bladders But its promodimant use is to battle signs of aging—the ultimate enemy. In half a decade, Botox procedures have increased by 40%, and surgeons are seeing an increase in people under 30

For women, wrinkles are synonymous with looking haggard, being undesirable, and having lost one’s beauty. For men, it’s an entirely different story. Brad Pitt and George Clooney are celebrated for their deeply wrinkled and mature faces. When you scroll through the list of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful Man and Woman, you’ll notice a pretty significant difference in what we celebrate and deem the most beautiful. Most men flaunt their crow’s feet, unapologetically, while the women featured, and defined as “Most Beautiful” have no wrinkles in sight and look 10-20 years younger than they actually are. These are the women most of my friends and I gossip about. Like J.Lo, how does she look like that at 50?! The women we celebrate are anomalies, with glam squads and the best anti-aging doctors in the world—and yet we’ve idolized them as the attainable norm.

As my obsession with my newly noticeable crow’s feet has increased, I’ve been paying closer attention to my husband’s face, who has very noticeable wrinkles around his eyes and forehead. “Do you ever think about your crow’s feet?” I asked him while we were brushing our teeth one night. He looked at me confused through the bathroom mirror and asked, “What’s that?” Somewhat annoyed, I answered, “The wrinkles around your eyes. Do they ever bother you?” He laughed as he spat out the remaining toothpaste in his mouth, “Why would that bother me?” 

Our society is working towards embracing all body types and universal things like cellulite and stretch marks, yet wrinkles and any visible sign of aging has been excluded from the self-acceptance movement.

Alexandra D’amour

For women, the pressure to have perfect skin, i.e. no acne, no dark circles, and definitely no fucking wrinkles, is at an all-time high. Sofia Grahn, an Instagram influencer trying to normalize acne, posed this question on her platform: “Is skin the loophole where we collectively decided that body acceptance and self-love ends?” 

This question left a deep impact on me as I looked through the dozens of anti-aging products on my bathroom counter to “perfect” and “protect” my skin. I wondered if the same logic could be applied to aging. Are the effects of aging the part of radical self-acceptance we’ve decided to ignore? 

Our society is working towards embracing all body types and universal things like cellulite and stretch marks, yet wrinkles and any visible sign of aging has been excluded from the self-acceptance movement. 

I find myself stuck in a vicious cycle of wanting to radically embrace my aging and reeling over my youth slipping away from me. I’m not quite mentally prepared for either. When I find myself feeling fearful, I browse through images of women in their 70s and 80s and am in awe of their natural beauty. I feel a sense of ease thinking of myself being that age, wrinkles and all. I remind myself to resist the urge to change my natural face, to find beauty in this new phase of life. I challenge myself by asking in a world that despises evidence of women aging, what am I doing to perpetuate these messages? 

Every wrinkle is a story, and mine remind me that I’ve laughed and cried; that I’ve surmounted moments I thought I would falter. I swear there are wrinkles on my face from laughing so hard I peed my pants a little, or from feeling so elated and loved, like when my husband read his vows to me. There are wrinkles from immense heartache, like when I watched my father take his last breath, or when I got yet another negative pregnancy test. 

Wrinkles are stories, and mine represent my life’s stories. And while I might change my mind about Botox, for now, I am holding firm that these stories on my face are worth fighting for.

LET'S TALK: what are your thoughts on botox? do you get it? if so, why?

16 Comments

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THIS ARTICLE

  1. My mom always hated her wrinkles, from the time she started getting them. I’m now in my 20s and I find that I’m actively trying to avoid wrinkles by not expressing myself through my facial expressions. I’ve already talked about getting Botox at 40 with my sister. Reading this has opened my yes completely to how insane that is. Botox isn’t a bad thing, as I use it for migraines, but wrinkles are not a problem I NEED to fix. Thank you for this.

  2. Yes to all of this! I feel the exact same way. I’m actively working to graciously accept all the physical signs of aging because getting older has truly done me more good than harm. I love becoming more open-minded, knowledgable, and wise as I get older. If the process of growing up has done such wonderful things for who I am inside, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t love what it’s done to me on the outside — wrinkles, grey hair, and all. In my opinion, it all goes hand in hand.

  3. I think the other huge issue and misconception with Botox too is that it’s all or nothing. Like when i started i got such a tiny amount that no one would have noticed and it was because i was so makeup obsessed that i was finding my foundation was moving with my face and it drove me nuts. So i literally got it for myself. Like it was such a small amount that doctors fought me on even giving it to me.

    THEN i went to a doctor who told me i should put filler under my eyes and i snapped because i think that’s what makes us look human. I always have loved the under eye circles or depth women have. It looks pretty to me. So anyways i got mad at him and he ended up calling and apologizing.

    I love Botox because it makes me feel like i look the same as i feel. I don’t get near enough that my face is frozen but it makes me look a little more fresh and that i can wear less makeup and feel pretty still.

    That being said i haven’t had it in a year now, and i don’t feel less pretty i just feel less bright eyed. It really hasn’t bugged me as much as i thought i would because it’s not a crutch for me. I never did it to freeze movement which is what most women do it for and the funniest part is it has the reverse effect. Peoples faces MOVE. And if it’s frozen you don’t even look human

    I don’t think it means you hate yourself. I think it’s another option in looking after your skin

    5 likes
  4. I love a little Botox in my forehead. I’m not interested in filler or other injectables and I don’t do it often but for me (and only me) I love the way it looks/polishes my face. My husband has never noticed (though I tell him about it) when I get it or don’t and eventually, it fades away. Without any makeup or effort with skin care I can look in the mirror and feel empowered by how I look. I’m currently pregnant and abstaining from Botox. I find myself putting in more effort with my skin care routine and wearing make up more frequently. I prefer the easier (for me) route of Botox a few times a year. Should that change one day, it will slowly fade away. I work to love my body and my history and to honour my experiences/past. Can I do that and get Botox? I think yes, I don’t think they are mutually exclusive.

    1 likes
  5. Genetically, my mum and grandma and I all have strong “elevens” and expressive faces – much more than anyone around me. I adore when I see crows feet and laugh lines and plan to keep celebrating those. I wish so much wrinkles were included in the movement of aging and acceptance but also see my elevens and frown lines becoming permanent before the age of 30. I feel hypocritical by slowing them down with botox. Am I letting down the movement and women who come after me?! A fine line we are dancing as women this day and age – thank you for continuing the convo.

  6. AL! I miss you.

    Ok I get Botox, and have been getting it for the past 2 years, I’m 30. It makes me feel good, just like getting a pedicure or getting my hair done. I understand how people would not want to manipulate their faces…but I can confidently say I will be getting Botox for the rest of my life because it makes me feel like a queen! I’m obsessed with being able to manipulate my body with fitness and what I eat (and love the control I have over that) My wrinkles are something that I can’t manipulate/control with exercise and diet but I love the fact that there is something available that can manipulate it AKA Botox!

    1 likes
  7. I connect with everything you’re saying. I haven’t gotten it… yet, but have made consultation appointments in the past and then cancelled because the timing (and cost!!) wasn’t right. I have overthought this topic for years and am now to a point where, who fucking cares. When the time comes that it feels right, I’ll do it and it’ll be fine.

  8. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to feel and look youthful. If getting Botox truly makes you feel happier and more confident, amazing!! However, I think the bigger issue and one we don’t talk about nearly enough is why. Why do we feel the need to look 20 something forever? Perhaps because the media isn’t showing us enough raw images so we believe that we are flawed when we don’t look airbrushed and flawless. The cosmetic and beauty industry has done a terrific job of playing on our insecurities to secure their bank accounts.

    Like I said, absolutely nothing wrong with getting some work done. I just think we should evaluate why we don’t embrace ourselves as we are and who’s really pushing the notion that young and flawless is the most beautiful. Ultimately, who’s getting paid off of our insecurities?

  9. Maybe because I grew up with a mom who didn’t wear any make up and actually never taught me how to put make up on and frowned when I would wear it in my teen years…and even though I am not in a place where I’ve accepted that my skin is no longer flawless and youthful but starting to show signs of aging…I would never consider botox. To me it would mean selling out to the people who define our beauty. Don’t get me wrong, I look in the mirror and sometimes wish my wrinkles and sunspots away but I think I’ve finally come to the place where I feel like I earned those features. If I give into someone else’s definition of what “graceful aging” is then what message am I sending to my daughter who will one day look at me as her example?

    2 likes
  10. I’ve done it a couple of times in my mid twenties but as I’ve matured in the last 2 years my perspective has changed to echo what your feelings are in this article. It’s empowering to embrace certain natural progressions Im just sorting out what I’m doing for myself vs. Others lately.

  11. I try hard (and huge emphasis on try) to accept age gracefully. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Botox, but I think you’re only setting yourself up for failure if you’re training your mind to alter your wrinkles. We all will get to a point where Botox will not cover up the aging process. Then what? I remember when I first started to get gray hairs in my late 20s. Someone noticed at work and went, “ugh love the gray stands. So chic”. It was such a small simple statement, but it really changed my perception. Something about owning what’s happening to your body is so empowering and makes me feel even more beautiful. Getting old is a blessing.

  12. I’ve always had a strong opinion against Botox my whole life. I’m very holistic and natural and the thought of injecting chemicals into my body that will stay there freaks me out. However, the wave of social media “pretty” and how other girls look has definitely made the thought creep into my head and debate myself. Living in LA is also another big debate. But I don’t think I could go through with it even if I did ever change my mind about it.

  13. Mainstream culture’s definition of beauty is very narrow and very patriarchal: young, white, thin.

    Question if this definition fits within your values. Question if this definition is respectful to who you are.

    Question how the aspirational epitome of a frail, adolescent female body with (typically) fewer power levers (financial, political, physical) might be a way to keep us impotent to our potential as strong self-identifying women with agency over our bodies, our minds and our lives.

    My mom grew up as an absolute beauty in her youth and I’ve seen how her self-esteem has diminished as she ages even though she has done botox and many other treatments to maintain herself. I’ve seen what it looks like when beauty is all you think society values in you. It’s heartbreaking. And it’s a lie.

  14. UGH this was such a necessary read for me and I’m so grateful you wrote it. I say UGH because the subject matter leaves such a pit in my stomach. I’m nearly 27 and already have loads of facial wrinkles. My crows feet have lived on my face since I was 20 and have flooded me with mixed feelings since their arrival. I come from two parents with wide expressive smiles that live on past their faces. My mother particularly has the largest smile I’ve ever seen and its so beautifully contagious. Of course she is highly self-conscious of the lines her big expressions create and throughout my adolescence I recall her negativity around her facial wrinkles. Once I even remember walking in on her watching a facial muscle strengthening video to prevent more from arising. The shame on her face is stuck with me, and the sadness I felt for her reluctance to see the beauty I saw still gets to me. Although I too am reluctant embrace my wrinkles sometimes, I try my very best to remember the joy each lines expresses and hope that I can offer as a model to my mother and perhaps my future daughter one day that a women’s beauty lives within their joy lines too.

  15. I never gave this much thought in my 30’s or 40’s! I was blessed with good genes as far as my skin and wrinkles. I started to see real changes in my 50’s. But, no botox or fillers at 66. Ive decided to view my wrinkles as character lines as I’m trying to embrace this aging process. Some days this is easier than others.

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