Why It's Complicated When Your Friends Start Getting Botox And Fillers In Their 20s
The Debrief: Upset, confused, worried and jealous - who would have thought that lips and foreheads, the parts of your face which express emotion, could cause so much inner turmoil in their own right
Artwork by Alex Coll
I’m a 'never say never' type when it comes to most things. I think you should try everything once - if you want to - and I’m not bothered if that’s a cliche, because that’s how I found out that I like dunking my McNuggets In my strawberry milkshake, so I won’t take it back.
When it comes to Botox I’ve always thought, 'yep, maybe one day. But not yet. I don’t want a freaky frozen face. I don’t want to look like any of the girls off TOWIE, thanks very much. But a smooth forehead would be pretty nice, and if I feel I need to when I get older, I might look into it.' Historically, that's been my take.
As it goes, I’m developing a pretty worrying crease in the middle of my forehead that’s far more noticeable now I’ve got rid of my fringe. And I like sunbathing on holiday, so it’s only going to get worse, even with SPF30.
But I’m too young for all that, right? While I want to put the thought of Botox - and increasingly, lip fillers - out of my head, it’s more difficult than that. The problem is that some of my friends have started to inject bits of their faces with things, and I’ve found myself pretty much obsessing over it all - even though I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to do it myself - yet.
Part of me lets me indulge myself in fantasies of pouty lips and a line-free forehead (my lips would look SO much better if they were a tiny bit more bee-stung), but there’s a mum or mad auntie in my head who’s saying 'Stop it! You look fine as you are. You’re being totally self indulgent, this is the biggest first world problem ever.' Which, I do think it is.
So why am I obsessed with Kylie Jenner’s lips? And why am I jealous of my mates who have taken the plunge? And how do I deal with all the conflicting feelings of jealousy and worry (what if they mess up their faces? For real. They’re so beautiful as they are. I don’t want this to happen).
One of my best friends, Anna, 27, who works in marketing, spoke to me about her decision to get lip fillers. We’d never really spoken about WHY she started doing it - all I’d said to her prior to this was, 'wow, they look amazing'. Which they do.
'I love Angelina Jolie,' she told me. 'I think she’s the most beautiful woman in the world, and I’ve always wanted bigger lips. I’d always buy those lip plumping lip glosses that don’t do anything at all.'
'Fillers started to become more of a thing in society and the media, and it was when one of our other friends got her lips done that I became curious. She came with me when I got mine done.'
'It really, really, really hurts. I’m not going to lie. I’ve cried on both occasions, and last time I went I screamed and the doctor told me to shut up. You can get a numbing shot too, but it’s more expensive. But I think once one of your friends has done it, it’s less scary, and there’s less of a stigma.'
Anna’s right about there being less of a stigma with fillers and Botox, whether it’s in our friendship group or in society as a whole. Plastic surgery group Transform reported a 38 per cent increase in requests for lip fillers in 2015 for women aged between 18 and 24 - and a 700 per cent rise in web enquiries for lip fillers the day that Kylie Jenner admitted she’d had her famous pout plumped up.
But is that really OK? While I’d love to get my lips done and really, honestly think that it looks gorgeous on my friends, I don’t think I will. Something doesn’t sit quite right with me about it - especially when the main poster girl for lip injections is 18-year-old Kylie, who, let’s be honest now, is going to look like god knows what in ten or twenty years time.
This is where the conflict is for me - a mixture of jealous feelings, and worries. If Kylie’s in danger of messing up her face, what about my lovely friends? When exactly do you stop when it comes to fillers? Are you able to? What are the long-term effects?
Anna admits that she already wants to go bigger with her fillers. 'It’s really addictive,' she tells me. 'It’s like getting a tattoo or a piercing or getting your hair dyed. It’s addictive, and if I had the money I’d go more. Mine is subtle now, but I want pouty lips and I like that look. It is a bit scary. I do want to go back and get more.'
'It’s a bit like opening Pandora’s box.' She adds, 'once you’ve opened the box, it’s not as scary. Surgery becomes more acceptable. Now I’m thinking about other things that I want to change, too. There’s a lot of pressure on women to look good in this world. I think if there’s something you can do to make you feel good, why not? I feel so much more confident now.'
So what about differing views within my friendship group? I wouldn’t say that friends’ decisions to get fillers has created tension between us all, but it’s certainly made me and others think more about getting it done - whether we’d ever go through with it or not.
Another of my friends, Lucy, 28, a makeup artist is against fillers and Botox, and quite open about that, too. 'The main problem I have with fillers is this - it ends up leaving everyone with the same face,' she says. 'I hate the idea of all my friends starting to get fillers more and more as I'd start looking at the same face - a little like when John Malkovich goes into his own mind on Being John Malkovich, if you like.'
'Naturally everyone questioning wether their features are not completely perfect and pouting makes you question your own. Although it doesn't keep me a awake at night, I guess it has crept into my mind a few times.'
'I've thought about being left behind as it were. I’ve imagined myself in my mid-30s naturally lined but surrounded by plumped cheeks and frozen foreheads. I’m not sure I like that vision. I that that, like boob jobs in the 90s, it's a surgical trend that won't be as popular forever.'
Yep, it’s a tricky one. I’m certainly one of the more thin-lipped of my mates and I don’t like that. And being exposed to fillers has got me thinking. But one clear reason I won’t be doing it any time soon? Money. I felt really British and uptight for asking Anna how much her lips cost her and was pretty amazed when she explained the price.
'One place I went to was £90 for a 0.5ml injection. I’ve also had a deal on Wowcher where it’s been £120 for a 1ml injection, but it can be more expensive if you don’t - like £300 or £400 for 1ml. Some of my friends know people who do it for you cheaply, too, so it can be less expensive, but you do want the best, don’t you? But then, if I’m skint I do think, fuck it maybe I’ll just pay £90 next time.'
While I’m a never say never type, my bank account is definitely saying no right now. That’s not to say I won’t get the wrinkles in my forehead sorted in ten years’ time, though - when I hope I’ve got a bit more spare cash.
One thing I’ve noticed from speaking to my friends about their opinions on fillers is that it’s refreshing to just be honest with one another. Like with politics, fashion or music, we all have differing ideals when it comes to beauty, and the reason I love my gang so much is because we’re all so very different.
As long as what you’re doing is truly making you feel happier, I don’t see any harm in it - as long as you don’t take things too far. Though that’s a fine line (pardon the pun), and it can be easily crossed.
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