Cosmetic Surgery Happy Hour! (Really!)

Posted on December 28, 2012


Here come the after-Christmas sales!  The flyers are stuffing our mailboxes, announcing great deals on bathroom remodeling, haircuts, pizzas and… Botox injections?  Why yes, the Radiance Medspa of Fairfax is offering Botox happy hours!  Happy hours, seriously?!  Yes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI knew that cosmetic surgery was booming in this country, but I just had no idea that it had become so common, so everyday, that we can now offer “happy hours” for Botox injections.  Curious, I went to the website and found that we can also sign up for their mailing list to get the latest on their cosmetic-procedure promotions.  They have special offers, with little clocks counting down to the expiration date, so hurry now!  And if you don’t see something you like, gift cards are available too.  It’s just a business, no different from some major retailer who sends out emails to their customers with coupons and sales notifications.

But it is different, isn’t it?  From some other retailer, we might buy a toaster that breaks after a couple of uses, or maybe a pair of shoes that turn out to be too uncomfortable.  We may be able to get our money back, and if not, well, we’re only out a few bucks and now we know better.  But cosmetic surgery is different.  This is our faces, our bodies we’re talking about.  When we buy a procedure and are not satisfied, money is not so much the issue; the issue is, we can’t return it.

Maybe we hate the new trout-pout.  We thought it would be sexy but it just looks silly.  Maybe the fillers we thought would make our faces look more youthful just made us look like chipmunks instead.  Maybe the liposuction left more obvious, dimpled scars than we thought it would (they do have to poke a trochar in there to suck out the fat; of course it leaves holes!).  And then there is the possibility of infections, complications, bad reactions.  It’s rare, but the risk is always present.  And yet, these ads are so tempting.  Who doesn’t want to be as smooth and featureless as a fifteen-year-old?

We don’t like to look old because “old” is not venerated in this country.  It is not respected or loved.  It is pushed aside, marginalized, warehoused, ignored.  If age brought respect and privilege, we might wear its marks proudly; but as it is, we seek to erase them, to stave them off as long as possible.  Better to be a blank, wide-eyed, artificially smoothed and plumped and sculpted… something… but by God, at least we’re not wrinkled or sagging.

I remember my mother.  When she sat and read, which she did often, she had a frown of concentration, and a line formed between her eyebrows.  My mother hated that line, but I loved it and wished I could make a frown like that.  I would go to a mirror and frown at myself, completely unable to make the skin buckle on my five-year-old face.   Now, decades later, I look in the mirror and can make my own frowny lines.  And I don’t mind them.  They give my face a depth of expression that it did not have in my youth.  Yeah, I kind of like my frowny lines.  I would not choose to Botox them away.

This emerging turkey wattle under my chin, though… hmm… wonder what this clinic could do about that…  My frowny lines give me character.  My incipient turkey wattle just makes me look… like I’m aging.

And that’s the thing:  it’s so easy to just want to look our best, and these procedures – done on an outpatient basis, minimally invasive, not too expensive, and discounted, too! – are incredibly tempting.

I’m conflicted.  Honestly, I don’t want to look like a little old lady, not because of vanity, but because of my fear that that look will lead to my invisibility, my marginalization, my no longer being taken seriously.   I just wish that age was something to live for, a sense of having arrived,  something to be respected.  But in this country, it’s not.

So I look in the mirror and poke at that softening skin under my chin, and I wonder.