Let’s start with some context:
You go to the doctor and hand him or her $1,000, cash or credit card. You’re going to have an elective medical procedure, and no insurance companies cover this.
You say, “Doctor, I want you to stick a needle in my face 50 times, around my eyes and in my forehead.
“And in that needle, one of the ingredients will be botulinum-toxin protein, one of the most powerful nerve poisons known. This toxin is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.
“This will cause flaccid paralysis of the muscles where you did the injections, so the muscles can’t contract. That makes skin relax and soften.
“So these bad wrinkles in my forehead, bad lines between my eyebrows, and bad crow’s feet around my eyes will be all gone. I’ll look younger, be infinitely more successful, and live happily ever after!
“Or until the toxin wears off in a few months, at which time I’ll return for a refill.”
Context: Botox Cosmetic treatments.
“Botox” is a brand name – there are several others – and it’s been around for years. Their website says BOTOX® Cosmetic is “the #1 selling treatment of its kind,” and claims to be:
“The first and only treatment FDA approved to temporarily make moderate to severe frown lines, crow’s feet and forehead lines look better in adults.”
Now let’s review a recent Botox TV commercial.
The commercial starts out as do so many others, aimed at females age 12 and over.
The message: For any female to allow her face, skin, hair, body, etc. to look anything but eternally youthful is:
The commercial starts with brief clips of young, lovely, taut-skinned women – with one young, handsome (token) man thrown in – and a female voice-over urging us to “own your look…with fewer lines”:
“How?” we wonder, “Please, tell us how!”
The voice-over lady is happy to tell us:
“Botox Cosmetic. It’s the only one FDA approved to temporarily make
There’s that “temporarily…look better” again.
We’re now 20 seconds into the commercial, and the disclaimers begin.
Disclaimers we’re not really hearing as more images of young, lovely, taut-skinned women – with a few more young, handsome (token) men thrown in – fill our TV screens.
Here’s what we’re not hearing:
The effects of Botox Cosmetic may spread hours to weeks after injection causing serious symptoms. Alert your doctor right away as difficult swallowing, speaking, breathing, eye problems or muscle weakness may be a sign of a life-threatening condition.
(“Life threatening”? Wait. What?)
Do not receive Botox Cosmetic if you have a skin infection. Side effects may include allergic reactions, injection site pain and headache, eyebrow/eyelid drooping, and eyelid swelling.
(“Drooping? Swelling?” Geez!)
Tell your doctor about your medical history, muscle or nerve conditions, and medications including botulinum toxin as these may increase the risk of serious side effects.
(“Serious side effects”? Holy shit!)
Disclaimers complete, we’re now 50 seconds in and winding up for the big pitch:
LOOK LIKE YOU
WITH FEWER LINES
LIKE THESE RESULTS?
And you can, indeed, go to the Botox website and see before-and-after pictures, like this one:
Of course, the fact that “Nancy” is frowning in her “Before” shot, and not frowning in her “After” shot has nothing to do with anything.
I looked at all the images and was not surprised to not see these before-and-after pictures…
Images of people with botched Botox treatments who don’t “look better…
But do look tragic…
I recently watched the documentary Jane Fonda in Five Acts, in which the actress/activist freely admitted to having had cosmetic surgeries.
Fonda, now 82, has been performing in front of the camera for 60+ years.
“Looking good for the camera” is very much in her job description.
Whether that camera is shooting Grace & Frankie – the Netflix series Fonda stars in with Lily Tomlin, now renewed for its seventh season – or catching Jane being arrested at a protest:
Looking good is necessary to Fonda’s career.
Fonda comes to mind because I recently heard about an acquaintance who also had cosmetic surgery.
The acquaintance, whom I’ll call “Ann,” is 43.
She does not make her career in front of a camera, but rather, in front of a classroom.
Ann is the divorced mother of two pre-teens, and happily remarried to a divorced man, also with two children – a blended family. Their income is adequate for their family of six, and they tend to spend every penny they earn.
I would describe Ann as attractive, of average height and weight. She tries every new diet that comes along, and between the kids and her classroom, she gets plenty of exercise.
But apparently, Ann felt her body was “bad,” and needed fixing.
So she had breast augmentation, a tummy tuck and thigh liposuction, all three procedures in one day.
Cost: Approximately $20,000.
None of it covered by health insurance.
I’ll never ask where they got the money.
And I’ll never ask why she voluntarily went under the knife – plus anesthesia, pain, recovery, risking infection and worse.
Though I know the most common answer to that question is, “I wanted to feel better about myself.”
If I did ask, and did hear that reason, I’d have had further questions:
Did it ever cross your mind that putting that $20,000 into a college fund for your kids would make you “feel better” about yourself?
Did it ever cross your mind that using that $20,000 to help pay down your monster mortgage would make you “feel better” about yourself?
Did it ever cross your mind that putting that $20,000 in an easily accessible account for emergencies would make you “feel better” about yourself?
Instead, Ann spent that money to change her body.
Because her body was…
You want “bad”?
How’s this for bad:
Update from Ann, 12/29/19:
“My belly is flat, the drain plugs are out, my breasts are round.”