Issue 28


“People say I look so happy - and I say ‘That’s the botox’”

Dolly Parton

The wisdom of Dolly set the scene for this edition of YOUTH for which we chose the aesthetics industry as the altar upon which we lay our intrigue. Aesthetics loosely covers the area of non-surgical cosmetic procedures, and it’s safe to say, business is BOOMING. We don’t need to get granular on numbers, but it’s said to have been worth 21 billion in 2022, and set to hit 45.5 billion by 2027.

Its more permanent cousin, the Cosmetic Surgery industry has an even bigger piece of the pie (albeit with slightly slower growth). So whether you’re into the needle or the knife (as we’re so reductively categorising the two) it’s safe to say the market is thriving like a newly single gal hitting the town with a fresh face of filler.

We can trace injectable products all the way back to the 1890s when doctors attempted to fill out facial defects by transplanting fat from the arms into the face, but things got somewhat mainstream in the early 2000s when anti-wrinkle injections and dermal fillers became part of the vernacular. A short time-hop to today and b0t0x and fillers are as commonplace as getting your hair done and they've been joined by an impressive list of other non-surgical procedures that can significantly change your visage without ever needing to take a nap on a surgeon’s table.

What a time to be alive eh?! When you can tweak and smooth and plump and essentially redefine your baseline of “beauty” (whatever you may feel that to be!).

But alas, this activity polarises opinions with the same savage symmetry as the hypothetical face deemed to be its absolute. As with most things regarding the appearance of women (and the percentage availing of aesthetic procedures is overwhelmingly female - somewhere in the region of 85-92%) there’s a cohort of society that reserves a special timbre of judgement to level at those who choose this particular path.

Everywhere we read about the reported increase in cosmetic procedures, be they surgical or non-surgical, the undertone is insidiously negative, ranging from implied bias to out-and-out explicit derision. The empirical takeaway remains one of judgement, as opposed to impartiality, or even less likely, support.

Even the term “non-invasive” for procedures that involve no surgery, insinuates that by choosing the surgical route, you’re “invading” yourself, as opposed to making an adult decision to alter or enhance oneself. The implied commentary is, “BAD WOMAN! How DARE you have the gall to care about your appearance?” If we make the decision to help our ageing process, we’re deemed disloyal to our appearance, our gender, and nature itself, but we ask you, in this day and age of the quite frankly amazing advancements in the science and technology of this field, why shouldn’t we avail of what’s out there, if, (and here’s the crucial bit) if we so choose?!

Who gets to decide if a person must limit their path to “beauty” because it deviates from what they started out with? This isn’t a professional sport, we’re not limited by a governing body that dictates those wishing to be perceived as beautiful must utilise only the faces we were born with (and their genetic predisposition for oxidising). Getting work done isn’t “cheating”, because beauty isn’t a game. It’s a personal choice that can bring a feeling of positive esteem, worth and improvement to a person’s sense of self, and who are we, or anyone else for that matter, to rob anyone else of the right to feel that way?

This is a world that like it or not, still judges people on their aesthetic value, so to hold women to impossible beauty standards, but then deride them for making the informed choice to even lightly adhere to these, is (to use another misplaced sporting analogy) not just moving the goalposts, it’s dismantling them, paring them down into sharpened points and using them as spears.

Jess Brennan, a social media personality who’s made no secret of her aesthetic journey, regales an incident when she was conversing with a male acquaintance who chose to question her reasons for opting for a very full-lipped look. The person in question was covered in tattoos, and when Brennan countered that her aesthetic decisions differed very little from his choice to liberally tattoo his skin, he replied, “But that’s art.”

“Well this is my art”, replied Brennan, effectively torpedoing the conversation and summing up perfectly the argument we set out to make.

What we do to ourselves aesthetically is, to put it in its most stunningly simple terms, nobody else’s business!

If you’re a fan of getting your tweaks done on the reg, or have designs on some surgery down the line, unreal! Go for it, LOVE that for you! And if you’re not? Same same, you go gal/guy/gay! Let nature take its course, that’s your choice too, just don’t come after the people who’ve chosen the former wielding ill-informed judgement, thinly veiled as “concern”.

We’re living in a time where visiting your 'face person' is as commonplace as popping into your brow gal and is essentially becoming a means of self-expression.

So, goalpost spear-wielders bedamned! The wheels will keep turning on this industry, and people will continue to avail of its services and overwhelmingly reap the benefits of the positive feelings they gain from doing so. Make no mistake, we’re here for it.

Nora Costigan

See also


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