'Who's face is it anyway?' asks Beauty Journalist Leah Hardy
'Who's face is it anyway?' - Highly acclaimed Beauty Journalist Leah Hardy discusses Botox in the Anti-Ageing special edition Red Magazine.
It's possibly our most primitive urge. Ever since humans have existed, we have obsessed with changing and beautifying ourselves. From slicing scars in our faces and painting our bodies blue to Botoxing our foreheads, we have never been entirely content to let ourselves be as nature intended.
Yet this eternal desire arouses an astonishing amount of sanctimonious judgement. Right now, the moral panic is focused on cosmetic intervention, from fillers to facelifts. I suspect the moral crusaders might, in a previous life, have been sucking their teeth at the thought of skirts above the ankle or lipstick. It really wasn't so long ago that make up was thought shockingly immoral. But what is it that upsets people so much?
Recently a woman told me Botox is wrong because it is cheating - though who is cheating whom wasn't clear. This struck me as odd because I knew she dyed her grey hair. And while Botox and hair dye are both ways to appear younger, one involves dangerous sometimes fatal chemicals. The other one is Botox. (One of the safest, best tested medications in the world, by the way).
The other day, a friend said she was 'strongly against Botox', but has a tattoo. It is a case of one needle good, one needle bad? You may not like it, but society reveres youth and attractiveness,yet women known or suspected of having the help of a doctor are vilified.
Of course, fillers, lasers, facelifts et al are not for everyone, just as hair dye isn't. Some people are too unstable and unhappy to be suitable candidates for treatment (though Botox does seem to alleviate depression in some cases). Surgery always has risks. And, to be honest, when people ask me what quick fix will make them look better, I normally suggest a good hairdresser, a Bobbi Brown makeover and a brow session with brow genius Shavata.
But I also believe that sensible, sane women should be free to make an informed decision about their appearance without being judged. Over the years, I've talked to dozens who used to be unhappy and self-conscious but, after having cosmetic intervention, have been significantly, and lastingly, happier for it.
As for safety, I strongly approve of tightening up the industry and am dismayed that government deregulation means anyone can, say, inject fillers into your face. But as part of my job, I've had quite a few treatments (some great, some not) and the worst thing that's happened to me is a couple of tiny laser burns. Yet a Pilates class two years ago damaged by back so badly I have had to have major surgery. That doesn't make exercise a bad thing.
Also, if we regard this as a moral issue, where do we draw the line? Is it 'moral' to have a tummy tuck after pregnancy has left a young woman with an apron of skin? Is an eyelift permissible for a woman with eyes so hooded she's losing her peripheral vision? But not okay for the woman who feels her drooping features make her look permanently sad? Judgemental attitudes make it more likely women will sneak off to dodgy doctors, not less.
As for me, I'm fine with my age. But while nature may intend for me to be wrinkled, grey, with frown lines and fading brows, I'll 'age gracefully' with sunscreen, lipstick, laser and a bit of Botox. After all, who's face is it anyway?