Plenty of people aged as young as their early 20s get Botox, and you wouldn’t know to look at them, says Petra Quinn.
DEAR PETRA: My girlfriend has just booked in to get Botox and I am worried she is going to turn her face into a plastic mask. Is it OK to try to talk her out of it or should I just stay in my lane? She is only 35 which seems very young to be getting it.
PETRA SAYS: Oh, how I envy your innocence in the ways of the needle. In this day and age 35 is actually quite late to be embarking on a journey down Botox Lane. In fact, it’s far from uncommon to start getting Botox in your early 20s, on a “preventative” basis (apparently, if you can crack into it early enough, you can actually stop the wrinkles from forming in the first place, thereby negating the need to spend the next eight decades desperately trying to erase them.) Does it thrill me that a not-insignificant number of 21-year-olds are feeling the need to inject botulinum toxin into their plump, tender little faces? No, it does not, but this is the bizarre social milieu in which we find ourselves.
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Anyway, certainly by 35 many, many women are starting to experiment with the odd bit of Botox – no doubt including plenty of your girlfriend’s mates – and you know what? Mostly you wouldn’t know to look at them. I completely understand your fear of the plastic mask – I have not dabbled myself, mostly because I cannot get over the terror that a single vial of toxin would turn my face into Jocelyn Wildenstein’s – but honestly, these worries are mostly unfounded. Plenty of my friends (spanning a 20-year age bracket) get Botox, and had they not told me, I never ever would have guessed. Their faces are not expressionless masks, they are just… slightly better-rested-looking than the average. That’s not to say that cosmetic procedures can’t be overdone, but a bit of judiciously applied Botox is really a fairly chill intervention, all things considered – especially because it wears off completely within a few months, so if your girlfriend doesn’t like it, the change isn’t permanent. (That said, Botox can cause negative physical/psychological reactions in rare cases.)
All of this may sound like I am unreservedly pro-tox, but actually, I just think the decision is every person’s to make for themselves. As Voltaire definitely once said, “I don’t really wanna get Botox because I’m too stingy and irrationally scared of looking like Courteney Cox circa 2017, but I will defend to the death your right to get it.” Or something.
So, I think this is very much your girlfriend’s decision to make. That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to have an opinion at all – if you want to tell your girlfriend that she’s pants-droppingly, stunningly gorgeous and entirely perfect sans cosmetic interventions, go right ahead – but I would urge you to stop short of judging her, implying she’s shallow, or trying to talk her out of it once she’s made a firm decision.
She’s grown up in a culture which makes it very, very difficult for women to make peace with their ageing faces and bodies, and it’s not fair to blame her for simply responding to that social pressure. And honestly, her money is probably much better spent on Botox, which actually does something, than expensive moisturisers and the like, which generally accomplish absolutely nothing other than smelling appropriately pharmaceutical and looking nice next to the bathroom sink.
Petra Quinn is a 29-year-old professional living and working in Auckland, New Zealand. She uses a pseudonym for this column to protect her personal and career opportunities. To send Petra a question, email her with “Dear Petra” in the subject line.