Lucy’s getting older. There’s no escaping the horror: she can see it every time she looks in the mirror. She can see it especially in the crows’ feet appearing uninvited like a stag party in the Quiet Coach, and in the lines that are starting to crease her forehead, etched there by too many nights spent worrying over some arsehole, or by too many violent eye rolls at her latest Bumble match’s poor attempts at conversation.
The situation is getting bad. Not for much longer will she be able to persuade herself that she can still pass for 35 – pretty soon the only people who’ll fall for that crap will be the partially-sighted, standing ten meters away on a foggy day. She used to blush happily when someone acted surprised on learning her age; now she’s fairly certain they’re just trying to sell her something.
There may be only one solution. It might be time to get Botox.
Lucy’s friend Hannah has Botox. Hannah’s about 6 months older than Lucy, but looks about 30 – though Lucy’s unclear whether this is down to cosmetic procedures, or just great genes. When Hannah and Lucy went to India together, the security guard outside Goa airport even mistook Hannah for Lucy’s daughter, which (a) made Lucy want to throw herself in front of the nearest tuk-tuk, and (b) proves that Botox works. Or possibly that Indian security guards are blind idiots. Lucy remains optimistic it’s the latter.
There’s a girl who Lucy sometimes sees at the gym who’s clearly got the whole lot going on: boobs as ripe as a pair of Waitrose avocados, skin glossy like a marble, lips as pink and full as two sausages in a butcher’s window. She’s so weirdly perfect she looks like she might be related to Sophia the humanoid robot, and Lucy wonders if perhaps she’s not human after all, but a secret prototype for the next generation of sentient sex dolls. This theory is compounded by the fact that every time Lucy’s seen her she’s been lifting weights in a tiny lycra crop top and a full face of makeup, but never breaks a sweat. Though Lucy’s heard that Botox also freezes your sweat glands, so maybe she’s just perspiring on the inside.
Lucy has no idea what this girl looked like before she started getting work done, but it’s fair to say she does look very pretty now, and she does have a very handsome boyfriend who works out with her. Lucy’s always dreamed of being in a perfect lycra-clad gym-going couple. Maybe Botox is what it takes.
After all, as a single woman trying to catch a husband, she needs to look her very best. Dating is hopelessly ageist, and with every year that passes, her value goes down. Men want to date pretty young things with perfectly smooth foreheads and shiny hair and pouty lips that suggest they’ll be excellent at blowjobs, and the older she gets, the less convinced she becomes that she can pull this look off. If she’s going to stand any chance at all in this brutal war zone, she’s going to need to don a flak jacket and helmet and use every weapon in her arsenal. And why shouldn’t she? Desperate times call for desperate measures; it’s her face, and her money, and she’s entitled to do whatever it takes to level the playing field, and improve her odds against the younger, more pert competition.
She just wishes it didn’t have to be this way. It’s hard enough as a woman trying to meet acceptable standards of hotness – what with waxing and hair dye and nails and the right clothes and being thin – without adding injecting actual poison into your face into the mix. Where the fuck did this come from? What has happened to women that they are now judged on standards of beauty so impossible that it takes invasive procedures, surgery, and airbrushing to achieve them? Why do already pretty girls feel obliged to mess with their faces in this way? Lucy doesn’t think even Brexit can be blamed for this one.
If she ever finds the person who started this whole fucking mess she’d grab them by the shoulders and give them a good hard shake. What the fuck are you thinking? she’d yell. This might seem like a fairly benign way to freshen up your look now, but in fifty years everyone will be doing it just to keep up, and no one will be able to tell how old anyone is, and 78 year-olds will start getting ID’d shopping for wine at Tesco, and the only way we’ll be able to express surprise is by blinking, and we’ll become so used to frozen foreheads that anyone who is able to actually move their eyebrows will be accused of witchcraft and drowned in the nearest duck pond.
Lucy actually thinks it might be better to ban all cosmetic procedures and makeup altogether. The whole thing is just another example of oppression by the bastard patriarchy, along with high heels and bikini waxes and Kim Kardashian. While women are spending hours perfecting their contouring techniques or not touching things while their nail varnish dries, men have been quietly taking over the world with their strip joints and their old boys’ networks and their gender pay gap. No wonder women are having to fight for equality now. We took our eye off the ball while we were too busy wondering whether coral or peach was a better shade of blush for our skintone.
In a world in which no one at all wore makeup or had cosmetic procedures, just think of all the time, money, and emotional energy women would save. If we could all just stop, all at once, we could recalibrate standards of beauty so that men and women are judged on the same scale. The pretty girls would still be the prettiest, that wouldn’t have changed, except that instead of spending an hour in the morning putting on a face, we could all be up and out at first light, ending wars and curing cancer and finding out what happened to MH370 before the men have even finished their morning wank.
But this is not the world we live in. This is a world in which women are judged on their appearance, in which signs of age are not considered alluring, and in which attractiveness is crucial to success, especially in dating. And Lucy wants to find someone before it’s too late, or if it’s already too late, then she needs to find a way to be able to wind back the clock a little.
And so much as she disagrees on principle, yes, Lucy’s thought about getting Botox. But she’s afraid. Afraid that if it goes wrong her face will freeze up and that someone will tell her a piece of news even more surprising than the fact that someone actually had sex with Boris Johnson, and she won’t be able to react and everyone will think she’s had a stroke and she’ll be carted off to hospital on a day when she isn’t even wearing matching underwear. But also afraid that it might go right, and that Botox will turn out to be a gateway drug to more extreme interventions. She knows how these things work: you start off blithely getting fillers injected into your forehead furrows, and before you know it you’re booking a plastic surgery holiday to Brazil and returning with two inflatables stapled to your chest and a face like a former undercover agent who’s been given a new identity.
She’s ashamed of herself for even considering it. It feels like she’s letting the airbrushed celebs and the Daily Mail’s sidebar of shame and her own insecurities win. Even so, eventually she’ll probably cave and do it anyway. She’s nearly fucking 40 and still single. She’s gonna need all the help she can get.
What do you think? Have you had Botox or other cosmetic procedures? Would you? Would you date someone who had? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!