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To Botox or Not To Botox? An LA Woman’s Dilemma

When living in Los Angeles, it can sometimes feel like getting Botox treatments comes with the territory … but Claudia Cevenini isn’t ready to give up on her lines just yet! Read more from Claudia on her blog, Campari & Sofa. 

To Botox or Not To Botox? An LA Woman's Dilemma

Some of the advantages of living in Los Angeles: nearly perfect weather; a vibrant culture; access to a variety of fresh produce all year round ; being able to be steeped in nature if one so chooses; the beach; great restaurants; a laid back live-and-let-live attitude.

Some of the disadvantages of living in Los Angeles: traffic with a capital “T”; a size that requires detailed planning for every outing; no winter; not being able to see your friends as often as one would like (see size); celebrities.

Celebrities? As out-of-town guests often point out, it’s fun to come up close and personal with the famous, the infamous and the beautiful if you spend enough time here. The downside of bumping into people whose line of work includes having their faces enlarged on screens and posters is that it can make you feel inadequate in the looks department, and it has spawned a beauty enhancing industry on which Americans spent $12 billion dollars in 2014.

In L.A., you can have Botox injected over your lunch break, or sit at home for a week waiting for your skin to slough off after a chemical peel; you can have a $ 500 facial from an aesthetician known for vilifying her clients to their faces (“Oh, but she works miracles,” they coo!); and then there is the pecking order of the most jettisoned (and most expensive) plastic surgeons whose credentials are the very faces we see on screen when we go to the movies.

As I put my face under the microscope of my scrutiny day in and day out, trying to reach a definitive conclusion on whether I want to intervene in some fashion (fillers on the side of my mouth? Botox to eliminate the line between my brows? Or just go for the whole shebang? Or maybe stop obsessing and accepting change with equanimity, if not grace?), a comment from blogger Jackie Mallon landed in our inbox, apropos of a Jane Fonda quote:

I guess if we’re talking about age and not caring about attracting the opposite sex, etc., I would like to think that being brave would mean not turning to plastic surgery to preserve the illusion of youth. […] I know people say, ‘If cosmetic surgery makes you feel good, then do it,’ but wouldn’t owning how you look after all these years on the planet feel even better–if it didn’t make you feel inferior..? It’s this last bit that we as women need to wrap our heads around and it would be amazing to have more role models who help counteract this sense of inferiority…”

The comment gave me pause. I always considered myself a feminist. I teased mercilessly my mother’s friends who resorted to all kinds of procedures and ended up with inflated lips and new cheekbones. I always said I would never….very easy to think from the perch of your 30s when having to contend with saggy skin and very few obvious returns on aging feel like a lifetime away.

Then I justified this latest inclination to ameliorate my looks to wanting to feel good about myself and not letting others influence my personal decisions or, worse, telling me how I should feel. My blogging partner Sofagirl and I have always been in the camp of, “If it makes you feel good, it’s up to you.”

Lately, though – and Jackie’s comment has helped crystallize my feelings – I am not so sure it’s about how I feel or how I feel I should feel. How much is my need to wake up in the morning and being met by a refreshed appearance (that’s all I am looking for – not pumped up lips or new cheeks) in the mirror and how much is involuntary outside pressure weighing on me. Would I feel different if I lived somewhere else and wasn’t perpetually confronted with women whose aging process stopped somewhere between 40 and 50?

Would being brave in a more natural approach to aging make feel, indeed, revolutionary? Or would it just make me avoid mirrors? Two people I hadn’t seen in thirty years, whom I met over the course of the last six months, both said to me, “You look more beautiful now than you did at 19.” While I don’t believe the objectivity of this statement for one second, I know what they mean: I exude a hell of a lot more confidence, I know who I am, hence I am more attractive. Yet, when I look in the mirror, all I can focus on are the lines and the sag, as if I never grew out of the insecurities of adolescence. Perhaps I never did.

So I am adding acceptance of my wrinkles and tired eyes to the list of things about myself I need to make peace with. See how it goes. If I can come to terms with my personality flaws, why not the progress of time writ large on my body? The way we look should go hand in hand with the aging process that happen on the inside but, more and more, it grows out of synch: as we age more vibrantly, as we stay healthy longer, we also want to hold on to our sexuality, our desirability that the society we live in prize so much. I understand that.

I also understand that what happens on the inside cannot be frozen in time by surgery or fillers: our expressions change, our eyes no longer open wide in wonder but are more reflective of our experiences and our wisdom.

As far as I am concerned, for now, the jury is still out. If I get to the point when facing the mirror becomes a struggle, well….I sure live in the right place…


Wednesday 3rd of June 2015

Well thought out. I've had Botox injected into my forehead furrows for almost 15 years. I squint, and the furrow lines made me look angry, which I'm not. I think we need to let women do as they please with their own faces without head trips or criticism. Acceptance is wonderful. What works for you is your choice. But if you do change your mind you are absolutely in the right location to do something about it. Good for you!


Wednesday 3rd of June 2015

Thank you for saying that. And, for the record, it's exactly that frown line between my eyebrows (or shall I call it a burrow??) that bothers me the most!

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