Smooth foreheads have become my porn. I stare an awkward moment too long at women who sport a line-free face, as if I can achieve the same through osmosis. The shiny, taut skin above and between their eyes lulls me into a trance. But then I remember: They are not more genetically blessed, nor do they have a secret arsenal of magic cream. The only difference between their expressionless foreheads and the deep creased “11s” between my eyes is 12 to 20 units of Botox.
I have met myself many times at the negotiating table in my mind to discuss the option of Botox. To inject or not to inject? That’s the freaking question. For three years, I have stagnated in a state of indecision, convincing myself it is time for an appointment, then talking myself out of the idea altogether. I wish I could boil the problem down to one glaring reason that I could resolve; however, there is a little bit of a lot of things that hold me back.
1. A Little Bit of Fear
No matter how many times I read the studies that reassure me no human has ever suffered death from the cosmetic use of Botox, I still worry that I will be the first case. I have fantasized plenty of ways I could go down in history, but “First Human to Die From Cosmetic Botox” is not one of the scenarios. Aside from impending death, I fear my injections will go rogue and my face will take on a wonky shape—like something in a cartoon—and my only option will be a complete face transplant. Who has time for that?
2. A Little Bit of Shame
I call it “taking care of my skin,” so it doesn’t sound vain. I perform a night-time face-washing ritual that rivals the endurance of an Olympic marathon runner. The products I use on my face are carefully researched before they become one of the 10 steps. Yet when I tell myself it’s finally time to pull the trigger on Botox, I start to vanity-shame myself. A voice in my head whispers, How far will you go? But how is spending hundreds of dollars on eye cream, microdermabrasion and face serums any less vain than a few units of liquid youth? Vanity by any other name would still smell as narcissistic.
3. A Little Bit of Pride
On a particularly good day, I feel completely accepting of my face with all its lines, blotchiness and scars. These days do not come naturally, but are the result of my intentional effort to fight the urge to scrutinize my reflection. Days of acceptance are hard won battles for me, which is why part of me believes getting Botox would mean I am throwing that accomplishment away. It would be like giving all my efforts to rise above my vanity the middle finger.
4. A Little Bit of Guilt
I fear Botox may be like popcorn—once I start, I can’t stop. Because the truth is, I know I am going to love the results. I already feel great satisfaction when I stand in front of the mirror and erase my 11s by pulling my eyebrows to my ears, or practice resting bitch face until my forehead wrinkles melt down to a whisper. I can envision what Botox would do for my face, and I would be lying if I said the visual made me anything short of ecstatic. Then I imagine the bill. Will I feel remorse for spending that money on my face when it could have gone toward something for my children?
5. A Little Bit of Lazy
As my age increases, so does my To-Do List of Personal Upkeep. Adding one more responsibility to that list is asking a lot. My lazy bones tell me I do not want to figure out the logistics of getting myself to an appointment every few months. Perhaps I will wait it out until there is a one-stop shop at the mall. I will walk into a booth and have my teeth whitened, Botox injected and my skunk stripe of gray colored, all in 30 minutes or less! It will be a great day when the robots can make us younger.
With all these factors pointing me away from the needle, there is one question that always pulls me back, the one that asks, Haven’t you suffered enough? I lament how gravity has had its way with my body and groan as I color my gray hair every three weeks. I reminisce about the deep, uninterrupted sleep and energy of my 20s and early 30s. But most of all, I perform a roll call of crimes to which my face has fallen victim: acne, rosacea, basal cell carcinoma, crow’s feet, laugh lines, large pores. After enduring all these calamities, I feel I am owed some retribution. Botox is my battle cry for justice.
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