Liz Spikol at The Philly Post recently wrote a thought-provoking article on why women have Botox and other facial rejuvenation procedures. It’s not, as many might think, merely to look younger. In fact, Spikol says, women have Botox because they want to look familiar.
It all stems from the transition that women make in their forties. Until early middle age, Spikol says, women tend to look the same as they did during their college years. During this time of early adulthood, women come into their own as adults. They become accustomed to looking a certain way. As a result, this look of early adulthood becomes an important part of their identities.
Nowadays, women are especially aware of different aspects of their bodies, in part because of the proliferation of beauty magazines:
“A lot of women in this culture know their faces and hands and hip bones and knee caps and every other body part intimately, particularly if they believe those parts are flawed. When a magazine has special sections devoted to individual body types, face shapes or hair type, we women know exactly which pages to look at. ‘Oh, that’s me—combination skin!’”
When the signs of aging begin to appear in early middle age, they emerge as an affront to a woman’s sense of self understanding. The reflection that appears in the mirror looks unfamiliar and strange. For Spikol, the change came with lines on her face that appeared almost overnight, and gray streaks in her hair.
“Women who start to use Botox in their 40s aren’t doing it because they want to return to a younger life. No one who’s in her 40s wants to be in her 20s again, I assure you. They just want to look like the person they’ve seen in the mirror every morning for decades. The person who, bizarrely, is disappearing.”