Thou shalt love thyself

So for the first time ever, I contacted a medispa. I enquired about injectables. I’m getting older. We all are. I work in the media industry. There are fresh new faces waltzing in every day. I work on fashion magazines. I see the ads. I write the ads.

I look around at the uncreased shiny foreheads in the advertising department. I sit in meetings and notice the smooth lines, the filled-out cheeks. I play the ‘guess who hasn’t had any work done’ game. Then I notice a mature woman who hasn’t. The first thought that comes in to my mind is ‘but she’s pretty, why wouldn’t she have got those lines filled?’ Then I sit in shame. How is it that is how I think?

Ageing in Sydney is hard. It’s a superficial city. It’s based around appearance – whether it be the car you drive, the area you live, the price of your house or the way you look.

I get on the bus and look at the billboards on the way home. All the models are 16. The embodiment of youth. They capture it. Forever, on a billboard. I flick through a celebrity magazine while I wait to pay at the supermarket. All the celebs are beautiful. Young. Photoshopped to perfection.

I switch on the computer. Ads flash up about ’10 ways to look younger’, ‘5 ways to get rid of tummy fat’, ‘how to peel off 20 years’. I click on one. It leads to another – celebrities hot and naked. Porn. All the women look young. Underage. They are considered the embodiment of desire. This is what men want, we are told. We are not just told – we are SCREAMED at.

To be desired you must look young. You must have no lines. You must have no scars. You must have a size 8-10 figure. With no cellulite.

The good men that appear in our lives and tell us we are beautiful, they love us like we are, well it’s hard to hear them above all this screaming – they are drowned out.

I started to get deafened by the screaming. It was hurting my head. I look in the mirror, I start to pull here, tighten there, wonder if I’d be just a bit happier without those lines on my forehead. I would, wouldn’t I? Wouldn’t that be the boost to my confidence I need? Not much, just a little injection. That will quieten down that screaming.

I look at my chest, at my décolletage. It’s taken a beating. I was told it would line faster than most. I had radiation therapy on it 15 years ago when I had cancer. My cancer is gone. Now there are the scars. Scars of my survival. Scars of my fight to live. Scars of my rite to passage of life. I better get rid of them.

Just a bit of laser will sort that.

‘You look amazing, though,’ one of my friends said when I confessed my plan. Yes, but I could look MORE amazing. I could look better. It might make me like myself more. I could eradicate my expressions – all those years of life behind me, all those experiences that made me who I am, all that wisdom I gained. I could remove them with one little shot. That’s all.

I started researching, headed to the forums. Wow, the Botox Community Support site was an eye opener (excuse the pun). Droopy eyelids, toxins leaking into nearby muscles causing them to freeze, too. Ringing ears. Major depression, hospitalisation. So I thought I ‘d check out the dermal fillers instead. OMG how scary are they. I thought they were more natural but really, some of it spread into one person’s brain.

But really, what are the percentages? So many people get it down. Who says it will happen to me? Sure, I’ve had Bells Palsy, but surely the botox won’t spark that again? It’s just a little amount. A little amount of deadly toxin in my forehead. Near my brain and eyes. And hell, it wears off after four or so months.

A little voice began to creep in… I could hear it whispering to me through the screaming. All those years of Women’s Studies at University. All that reading. The thesis I wrote about strong women rappers rising above their oppression, finding their voice, empowering themselves.

I think about the hours of therapy I had with my therapist working on how to build up self love. How to accept myself and accept love in my life instead of always pushing it away. Fearing it. There was a lot of work to be done, I’d lived through some horrendous relationships – abuse, betrayal, fear – I learned how to mask it and soldier on. The mask was easier than dealing with the pain. It made me look strong.

When I woke up this morning it dawned on me that perhaps I am looking for another mask? Another quick fix to make me feel strong, to make me feel better. But the thing is, it will wear off. Then what? Then there’s me in the mirror. Staring back. Without a mask. Without the self love. Without the inner happiness.

I did make that phone call. I got an appointment. I’ll be seeing my therapist in three weeks.




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