Our society is obsessed with appearance: we dye hair, indulge in fast fashion, and cover our skin with layers of makeup to change the way we look.
Based on that obsession, the beauty industry is thriving and continuing to push the envelope, with Botox becoming society's vogue. The popular cosmetic treatment has become unsurprising for the everyday person and a common treatment for many celebrities: in fact, it's not often that a celebrity doesn't utilize this expensive treatment.
Enlarged lips and flawless skin are becoming the norm on TV and social media, but could this treatment have damaging consequences? This article looks at Botox as a cosmetic procedure and its impact on society.
Botox is a widely-known procedure; however, many people are unaware of what it contains and involves.
Botox -whilst technically a brand name- is a widely used term that refers to any injectable form of a protein called Botulinum toxin Type A. This protein is taken from the Clostridium Bolotulusis bacteria found within dust, soil, sea, and river sediments; closer to home, it can also be found in homemade foods preserved, canned, or fermented.
Clostridium Bolotulsis is the very microorganism responsible for causing a potentially fatal food poisoning called 'botulism'. Despite the dangerous nature of the bacteria, the extracted protein used in Botox is diluted and purified to the degree that scientists deem it 'generally' safe to use as a cosmetic treatment when used by a trained medical professional.
Cosmetic Botox is primarily carried out on the neck and face, aiming to reduce wrinkles and the appearance of aging by injecting the Botulinum Toxin Type A protein through the skin and into the muscle beneath. The substance then works its magic by blocking nerve signals to the injected muscle, essentially paralyzing it, in turn softening the appearance of wrinkles.
The anti-aging effect lasts between 3 to 4 months, requiring regular top-ups to maintain the facade of youth.
Considering the short-term quality of the procedure, it holds a hefty price tag, costing on average between £150 - 350 per treatment in the UK.
Contrary to the role of the anti-wrinkle injection, it also plays a part in the medical field as a 'neuromuscular blocker' to treat issues such as excessive sweating, muscle spasms, and migraines.
The medical use of Botox isn't as common knowledge compared to its use as a beauty treatment, which could indicate how society holds appearance in high regard.
The invasive aspect of cosmetic Botox sets it aside from other beauty products and treatments on the market.
It is estimated that 1 in 6 of those who receive cosmetic botox to the face have some complication . Common side effects of the anti-wrinkle injection include localized swelling, pain, and bruising around the injection site; however, some people can experience flu-like symptoms, headaches, and excessive tearing.
While these side effects tend to be temporary, some people complain of more long-term problems such as neck weakness, difficulty chewing, heart palpitations, and long-term 'freezing' of muscles that cause facial drooping. These unwanted physical changes to the face can have a huge impact on the mental wellbeing of individuals.
The likelihood of complications depends on many factors, such as the injection site, the quality of Botox substance used, and how diluted the toxin is. As with any procedure, there are consequences and risks involved; however, it begs to question why people go to such lengths to change their appearance.
Aesthetic appearance has increasingly become of high importance in many people's lives.
Popular TV shows such as The Only Way is Essex, and Love Island glorify outer appearance and set the expectation of 'beauty' for many -the stars of which often show Botox-enhanced lips and minimal wrinkles. The TV shows associate cosmetic Botox with opulence and a favorably easy-going lifestyle, leaving viewers aspiring to be them and feeling discontent with their own reality.
Love Island Star Megan Barton-Hanson. Credit: The Guardian
In 2020, YouGov found that almost half of all British people are unhappy with their own bodies . This saddening fact shows a huge issue with how we view our bodies in society and emphasizes the need to change our idea of the 'perfect' body.
Holding appearance in such high regard can lead to quick judgment of other individuals based on their external image. Interestingly, the way we judge others is said to reflect how we judge ourselves. The relationship between the two could hold the secret to accepting and loving our bodies simply by adapting how we think.
Changing a thought process ingrained in our personality can be difficult; however, it is completely achievable for anyone. The process requires being aware of one's thoughts, practicing mindfulness, developing empathy and self-compassion; most importantly, it is essential to have a genuine desire to create a more positive, considerate mindset.
To conclude, the cosmetic treatment of Botox can have harmful effects not only physically but on psychological wellbeing. It raises questions about why individuals feel the need to alter the way they look rather than embracing their own unique bodies. The way we perceive beauty and toxic habits of judgment could be the secret to accepting our unique, resilient bodies.
To tackle this, detox from social media and TV could relieve the pressure we put on ourselves to conform to the created image of a 'perfect' body.
The beauty industry's future is unclear, but to what extent will we go to prevent the natural, organic process of aging? When will we love our bodies for the incredible beings we are?
The beauty goals we hold are unrealistic; it's time to change how we think. Maybe there is no need for the anti-wrinkle injection: after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.