Unlike the borderline secret society that is celebrity cosmetic enhancements, I’m an open book when it comes to my face. Even as you step outside the gilded ring of actors, models, and political pundits, the hesitancy to reveal our assorted injections is high. I get it — the world never fails to remind women that our appearance is a form of social currency. Some may even argue that it is the most influential kind. Disregarding the cruelty of this point — not to mention our various contributions to society on every level — the hush hush nature of turning to your dermatologist or plastic surgeon for Botox and fillers is outdated, and frankly, dangerous.
My proposal? Radical transparency. A reclamation of our beauty choices. Pure unadulterated honesty.
First things first: No one, man or woman, *needs* to undergo or even desire any type of cosmetic procedure. For one, they’re prohibitively expensive, and two, there is nothing wrong with straight-up ignoring the beauty industry altogether — except for sunscreen. Please, please wear sunscreen. Whatever level of skin care, makeup, hair care, nails, or body care you feel comfortable with is just fine and dandy. But that also means there shouldn’t be any shade thrown at you for revealing your recent filler or thread lift. The procedures themselves are not the issue here (although you can make the argument for 20-somethings starting too young, and the negative effects of FaceTune and filters on our self-confidence). No, the current problem I see is the reticence to own up to what we’re putting on and in our faces.
I decided in September of last year to start practicing what I preach, so I posted a selfie to Instagram that garnered over 2,000 likes and 100+ comments. My caption explained that while I was technically makeup-free, my complexion was in no way bare. The enhancements I had at the time included a lash lift, professional eyebrow shaping, Botox, lip filler, cheek filler, prescription melasma cream, and a recent laser treatment to address under eye circles. For a beauty editor, this laundry list isn’t so shocking — to the average consumer, it’s downright gratuitous. Vain even. That’s fine by me — I’m a Leo, so vanity is in my nature.
What shocked me was how many people thanked me for being so forthright about my beauty choices and asked questions about how, when, where, and who administered my treatments. The curiosity was astounding, and yet no one peppered me with inquiries as to why I had done this or that procedure. They just wanted the facts. I answered every single question right there on my grid, not sequestered behind private messages, and more kept rolling in over the next days and weeks. It reminded me yet again that knowledge is powerful, and being an informed consumer even more so. How can we be expected to make decisions about the way we approach our own aging process without the answers to these types of questions?
Make no mistake — cosmetic enhancements can absolutely make you feel better about yourself, but many also directly address signs of aging, like thinning lips, migrating fat pads, fine lines, and more. Why should you feel ashamed to admit that you prefer to slow these changes down, even just a tiny bit? That’s not to say I’m asking everyone to shout this information from the rooftops, but maybe acknowledging a little nip or tuck instead of broadcasting #nomakeup to all your followers will temper people’s expectations of what “natural beauty” looks like.
Even in this new era of beauty, when customers are savvier with their dollar and are directing it towards brands that prioritize diversity and inclusion, we’re inundated with messaging about how to be brighter, clearer, glowier, and more youthful every single day. Whether it’s in our inboxes, on the news, or lurking in our feeds, the influx of images never stops. But as long as gossip columnists continue to speculate about which starlets have had filler (and subsequently judge them for it, or worse call them old) and influencers claim a new supplement is solely responsible for their glass-like skin, the cloak of secrecy will never lift.
So while my willingness to reveal exactly what I’ve done to my face is, by itself, not very revolutionary, I can only hope that as we navigate the next decade, we stop being so secretive about why we suddenly look extra radiant and rested. My face alone can’t move the needle (no pun intended), but if we stop pretending that we’ve never turned to a vial or two of filler in the first place, maybe we can concentrate on dismantling these outdated Eurocentric beauty standards altogether.
For now, I’ll continue to raise an eyebrow at any #nomakeup photos I see — or I would, if I hadn’t just refreshed my Botox.