Around a year ago, I addressed my experiences with body dysmorphia and how that manifested into an obsession with maintaining a particular bodyweight, both in terms of the scale and in a photo. Seriously, I once saw my thighs transform into two different sizes right in front of the mirror. The reason why I decided to bring light to it again is the fact that this body dysmorphic demon returned with determination in every fiber of its being to consume me. Now, whether I actually should be diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder is a whole separate argument in and of itself, but this is simply accounting for how I’ve interacted with my body image issues. However, this time around, my body dysmorphia didn’t poke at my size, so to speak. If anything, it critiqued something that I never even thought twice about because, well, this wasn’t a serious issue to begin with:
Growing up, I always have been blessed with clear skin. My freckles were scattered in the right places, I tanned easily (not to say that tanning is entirely a positive thing), and I got a breakout only a few times a year. Obviously, my body dysmorphia did not tease me for not having zits. It actually said this:
“Hey, you’re 21. You’re getting old.”
Okay. So what?
“You should consider getting Botox. Like, soon. I’m talking three years from now, even less. Before the wrinkles even appear, because nobody likes those. After all, you don’t want to look completely unnatural, do you?”
Look, I know this sounds incredibly ridiculous. I should be thinking about when my next bar crawl will be (even though I don’t drink), not when I’ll get my first wrinkle. However, this message lit a spark. I found myself subconsciously ensuring that my forehead barely moved an inch to positively reinforce any permanent lines, applied sunscreen on my face like how someone would paint a wall, wore face masks more frequently, and researched more about any anti-aging method on the face of the planet, including Botox.
In regards to plastic surgery, I only viewed Botox as a cosmetic procedure that individuals, mostly celebrities, tend to overdo. Whenever someone has gotten work done, it’s noticeable or blatant. However, once I stepped foot into the world of preventative Botox, I learned that the women who received the treatment were mostly in their mid-twenties freezing their face before their wrinkles became life lines. I’ll admit, they looked amazing. I figured, “Huh, what a marvel it would be to never have to worry about physical aging, something that I know I will feel insecure about in the future.“
This desire brought a sense of shame because most people view Botox with little to no fondness–if anything, it’s affiliated with making others appear less human. I didn’t know who to believe anymore. Am I wrong for not being against Botox? Am I simply brainwashed by these industries informing me that I shouldn’t look old because that’s considered unattractive? Do I feel insecure about myself in a different way? If so, when does it all disappear? Truth of a matter is, when I hear about anything that may deteriorate my physical appearance, I panic. This pertains to weight, aging, height, style, almost anything.
Everyone I spoke about Botox to–which keep in mind, was not a lot of people–was incredibly dismissive. I only felt more insecure of myself and promised myself that I wouldn’t tell anyone else about my thoughts from that moment on. What stood out to me was a statement someone told me when I confessed my curiosity for Botox:
Do you really want to have a body that’s thirty forty fifty, but have a face that always looks twenty?
I couldn’t help but replay that statement in my head millions of times. How would I feel years and years from now when I still have those chemicals in my face and am restricted from many forms of facial expressions?
Obviously, I have absolutely no means to get the surgical procedure myself anytime soon (aside from money and the fact that it uses animal products and animal testing). Still, I can’t help but continually worry about physically aging, exclusively with my face. I’ve been lathering sunscreen outside and moisturizer morning, noon, and night every day, sometimes even shielding my face with an umbrella when the sun is scorching over me.
It’s been nearly two months since I’ve first thought about using cosmetic surgery–to be completely honest, it’s much less appealing to me now. The more I observe the women around me and analyze the life-lines and wrinkles on their forehead, the less sensitive I feel about the matter. Ultimately, it is not about Botox itself that was concerning, but more so about the intent behind why I suddenly found it so attractive. What I needed to re-construct was how I view myself as beautiful and worthy. The last that I should prioritize was spending thousands of dollars on injecting some microbes into my face, then get re-injected several months later. Who knows where and when I’ll even need it?
To tell the truth, I am still not opposed to anyone else getting plastic surgery and/or cosmetic fillers. There are a plethora of success stories with Botox and how incredibly delighted these people are with it. As of now, it’s best for me to stick to any forms of skin care and anti-aging techniques that are much less costly in time, money, and opportunity such as face massages, high-quality moisturizers, and sun protection (seriously, when I forgot sunscreen one day, I opened my umbrella and covered my whole body in the shade until I walked indoors. Call me crazy, but you know). For one, most cosmetic procedures are not vegan and require timely maintenance.
Health isn’t just about how much you weigh or how much you can lift. People don’t just look at a body to evaluate health–it’s seen in the face and the expressions as well. What isn’t natural can be blatantly spotted that it is unnatural (though the definition of natural has been blurred far too much these past years). But intent is everything. It truly depends on how you define your beauty and allow those standards to play into your well-being.
What are your thoughts and/or experiences with plastic surgery (if you have had any)? Have you also encountered body dysmorphia in a different way?