You may have felt the pressure yourself … to leave those early jobs off your resume (they were so long ago). Or to color your gray hair. Or even to “have a little work done” in the interest of looking younger than you are.
For years, people in highly visible positions—TV anchors, for example, and politicians—have wrestled with the ravages of time. They’d disappear from view every now and then, and return to work, um, refreshed. Not only because they got some rest over vacation.
Increasingly, the pressure to turn back time is on the rest of us too, no matter what kind of work we do.
Job-hunting rules for people over 50 include “make your resume ageless” and “get a makeover.”
Even professionals in their 40s hear the same thing. “Update your appearance.” “Don’t let your resume date you.” A website for lawyers tells attorneys over 40: “Older professionals might do best to focus on small to medium size organizations …”
Yikes! No wonder so many of us worry that our age is an obstacle.
Of course, the people who sell supposed fountains of youth take full advantage of the fear. Used to be, they were always pushing potions and procedures at middle-aged women. Now they target men too—you’ve probably seen the TV commercials about Botox for men. Some people call it Bro-tox.
The guys want to look good on Instagram and Tinder just like women do. And there’s that fear that they’ll be aced out at work by a younger man.
The thing is, some of the people getting these make-you-look-younger injections are not that old. Average age for a Bro-tox guy is 42.
And get this. Dermatologists are suggesting preventive Botox for women in their 30s, and even 20s! They say they can “train” a person’s face and reduce the chances that they’ll develop permanent wrinkles.
Sadly, it’s too late for my face to be trained. I missed out on the ounce of prevention so I went for the pound of cure.
Yes, I succumbed to the siren call of wrinkle reduction. And am I ever sorry.
The idea was a gentle little lift for the forehead, to bring the brows up just a pinch, make my eyes look bigger and soften the lines around them. What’s not to love about that? Plus, lifting the brows would make me look friendlier. Less angry. Less tired. And, of course, less old.
Sadly, the gentle little lift in one facial muscle caused some opposing facial muscle to respond with a firm tug down so my right eyebrow was suddenly pointing at the floor.
“Easy fix,” the doctor said. Naturally, the fix was more Botox. He dealt with my errant eyebrow and for good measure, hit the eleven. (“Eleven” is what they call those two vertical lines that form above the bridge of your nose, between your eyebrows.)
I was waiting for the youthful look the ads promise. Smoother skin, fewer wrinkles and lifted eyebrows. I got an eleven-less forehead, it’s true. But I also got lower eyebrows, wrinkled eyelids and the dreaded droop over my right eye.
Even the commercials mention drooping eyelids or eyebrows as a possible side-effect. Too bad I hadn’t paid more attention to the potential pitfalls of the quest for the face I used to have.
This is the face I have now, drooping eye, mismatched brows, and all. My friends reassure me that it’s not that bad. Here’s what I know: I have to hold up my eyebrow with my left hand to put on mascara with my right hand. And I look angry all the time. (Of course, when I look in the mirror, I am angry…but that’s another story.)
The experts say the injection effects last three to four months, and that should apply to the unwanted effects too. I’m hoping to have my real face back by Christmas, with both of my eyebrows back where they belong.
Or at least back where they were when this headshot was taken a couple months ago. Other people have an “after” picture that beats the “before.” Me? My “before” picture looks a whole lot better, and that’s only partly because of a professional photographer and make-up artist.
You may have had a completely different make-me-look-younger experience, and as always, I’m eager to hear about it. You can tell us your story in the comments below.
For my part, I’ve learned a lesson about messing with Mother Nature. At this stage, I’m just not meant to look like I did years ago. It’s time to accept the face I have, make peace with the impact of the years and, as they say, age gracefully, right?
On the other hand, there’s that thing they do with threads. You know, lifting the forehead and eyebrows with so little downtime…they sometimes call it the “lunchtime lift.” What could possibly go wrong?
Made me smile today, Catherine…! Sometimes I think that way too but I remember being a kid and looking at my grandma and thinking, “Why would anyone want to get rid of all those smile lines?” Of course, she smiled more than I do, I am afraid. It reminds me to keep smiling as we “older” women naturally look angry when our faces are relaxed completely….you taught me that. Thanks for confirming that I will NOT have work done, even if my pictures betray my neck and face wrinkles. A smile is the best facelift of all…!!
It’s true about looking angry, Teri – it’s those damn vertical lines. And the lowered eyebrows that I was so concerned about. What made me start contemplating a fix was seeing photos of myself speaking. Caught in a candid shot, without an intentional (albeit artificial) smile I looked SO ticked off. The Botox plan backfired, though. I’m not at “embrace the crone” stage yet, but I definitely need to get comfortable seeing myself as a woman of a certain (advanced) age.
This happened to me. Recent 36 male. Lines slowly showing at rest so thought I’ll get botox.
The result? Uneven lines on forehead. Half my forehead has more lines when animated. That could be an easy fix with a touch up.
But… My eye brows. Totally uneven. Especially if I do an angry look. One side totally drops in. Have some skin hanging over eyelid now too.
I don’t know if I want to dare a touch up. This is worse than getting a hair cut. I started cutting my own hair due to the extreme stress of asymmetrical cuts. Now my face is asymmetrical and I just can’t even deal.
If botox is this dependent on the technician and them getting right it’s too much to deal with. I’m so beyond pissed and angry. I hate to even see my face now.
I get it, Lk. I tried the “touch up” and it changed my look for the worse instead of making it better. The good news is, the injection results don’t last forever. Whether we’re happy with them or not, the effects of these shots aren’t permanent.
Catherine, thank you so much for this.
I can’t have plastic surgery because apparently, I experience pain more acutely than everyone else. When I had surgery a few years ago, I had pain for weeks afterwards. The doctors were condescending. Since it wasn’t infected, I must be a weenie, they implied.
so no way I’d have a facelift.
Nor will I “keep smiling.” I’ve smiled enough when I haven’t felt like it. That’s been the story of my life as a people-pleaser girl.
Imagine that — a condescending doctor! Sorry you had that experience, Diana. And I don’t blame you for refusing to fake a smile.
I started holding a little half-smile (think Mona Lisa) a while back when I realized that walking around with the end of a pen in my mouth all the time was exaggerating the vertical lines. I noticed after a while that I had a new “resting face.” And, surprisingly, a lighter mood to go with it. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I wrote in my own book about facial feedback. It actually does have an impact.
Catherine, you are so beautiful! Very sorry you are dealing with this.
Thanks, Cathie! I’m sorry too, but I’m hoping I’ll be droop-free in another couple months. And now that I’ve told the whole world about it, I don’t have to be so concerned about trying to hide it, right?
Boy, that brings back memories, Al! Thanks.
I debated on commenting because my experience with Botox has been the opposite. While it has been a couple years since I had the injections, I would do it again. My (female) dermatologist is a soft-spoken, gentle physician. While I had a hard time seeing the results, I did get comments from people saying I looked like I’d been on a wonderful vacation. It is tricky to decide to try something with your face and in my case, I wish the effects had lasted longer.
Your warning is well-taken however. Bad things can happen. Maybe I’ve just been lucky.
Most people have a better experience than I did, Jerilyn — I’m glad you’re among them! But this drooping eyelid thing is common enough to be mentioned (quickly!) among the possible side effects they list in the commercials. That been-on-vacation look is exactly what I’d hoped for — nothing too obvious like those women on TV whose faces don’t move anymore. I’m glad to hear you were lucky!
Catherine, I love your posts. Informative, insightful and even courageous.
Thanks, Jim! I love you back.
Thank you so much for your honesty and sharing! I’m horrified to see myself whenever my son & grandson facetime my cell! I always look worse than the “not so bad” I remember after my morning face wash and make-up. A helpful quote was emailed to me recently: “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”
Oh Barb, that Facetime thing! It’s like taking a selfie – the phone’s always a little too close, the angle’s not quite right and I look the worse for it. You’re right about growing older–not everybody gets to. I was at a Celebration of Life this morning for a friend who was in her 50s when she died. A reminder to kiss the minute.
Yes know me…I never would have considered it in the first place! And NEVER thought you needed it either!
But now that you’ve experienced it…I applaud your courage to show up and shine….no matter what!
I’ve been so self-conscious about this, Karen. It seemed like the best way to bounce back from my misery every time I looked in the mirror would be to just be open about it. Plus, there is an interesting issue here, about the pressure we’re under to look younger. And that seems to have struck a chord.
Catherine thank you for your honesty! It is a relief. I’ll bet there are more people out there who have had the same experience. I’l bet you can’t wait until Christmas.
Last year, my eye doctor told me to get botox for my chin – thank God he retired and is in Arizona!
Yes, Norma, I’m eager for my eyelid to stop drooping. It gets old, wearing a bag over my head when I go out. 😉 There are indeed other people who’ve had the same experience. I wouldn’t call it common, but it’s not unheard of either. Always good to know about the possible negative consequences before we go ahead with something like this.
Entertaining post! I tried Botox once and had terrible headaches, I can’t remember if I liked the visual results. I just remember the headaches. I would try it again for the lines between my eyebrows (is that the “11” you mentioned?) but maybe not…My friend just also had a bad experience with hers. I’m all for looking younger though! I think you keep looking better. It’s like you keep getting more and more stylish!
Yes, Rhonda, those lines between your eyebrows are the 11. I’m happy that mine are less pronounced now. But in the process, the inner corners of my eyebrows were lowered instead of raised. I think I look angry all the time. Glad to hear you think I’m looking more stylish–that might make up for the additional “laugh lines” (sounds so much better than wrinkles, don’t you think?).
Dear Catherine – thanks for being so courageous and sharing your humor again with us! As you said, the droopy eyelid is more common than the “pros” would want you to think – hence why your doctor thought just a little more “would fix it”……..sorry that your adventure didn’t go as you hoped but I have learned sometimes being sensitive has its benefits! It makes me be more careful and over the years have avoided many things I now know may have been harmful in the long run.
I enjoy reading your posts and miss running into you here and there!
Elizabeth, I haven’t seen you in ages. Thanks goodness for Facebook — at least we can be in touch virtually. Yes, the people who provide anti-aging interventions downplay the potential negative outcomes. It pays to do our own research. But I wish I hadn’t done mine on my own face!
Catherine, your “professional” is not a good injector! Drooping eyes and brows occurs from too much product in the wrong place. I had this happen from a fancy plastic surgeon. I now get great results from an experienced nurse who has been placing Botox/ dysport for more than 15 years, doing multiple procedures every day. And for those that get headaches from Botox, I find that Dysport does not have this effect for me.
You might be right, Jan. When I read up on The Droop, several sites assured that it won’t happen if you have the right doctor. Seemed that they were trying to fend off competition from other injectors who aren’t fancy plastic surgeons. My guess is this can happen no matter how good the professional is, because every face is different. You’re a brave woman to give it another try, Jan. I’m glad it’s worked out for you.
Catherine, thank you for sharing. I just turned a magical number last week and as people asked me how I would celebrate (since the beginning of 2018), I wanted to do something that was 100% for me. I decided on Lasiks! I had toyed with the idea for nearly 10 years.
And by the time I hit my magical birthday, I wanted to be glasses-free. Everyone I knew that had Lasiks LOVED the results. I however do not LOVE my results. I chose monovision where one eye is for distance and one is for reading. Maybe that is the issue? (Don’t think so.) It has now been five months and depending on the weather (lighting), my vision can be blurry. And because my vision is not consistent from day to day, it is hard to know exactly how to “fix” it. My surgery was guaranteed, but I don’t want lasers touching my eyes AGAIN and the recovery was not pleasant at all. It would have been worth it if it worked. My trust in having a surgery to fix it does not sound appealing. So now I manage a new normal. The appeal of youth was too strong – and now I will say I am wiser in my years (because of the experience).
Oh, Tasha, I’m so sorry you didn’t get the outcome you’d hoped for. I know people, too, who’ve been happy with their Lasik results, but that doesn’t change your experience. I don’t blame you for being reluctant to try for a correction–if the laser thing didn’t work for you the first time, why would you go back for more? I started wearing glasses about a year ago, and I had some moments of thinking that might be “aging.” I went for purple titanium frames instead of a permanent fix for my eyes. You make it sound like I made the right choice. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Catherine I had the same experience This month
Thank you for sharing Your story it makes me feel less alone in this feeling
I wonder, did yours ever go back to normal?
I’m a month in and really wanting to wear a bag over my head 24/7.
Love and light
Oh, Meghan…I know that wanting-a-bag-on-my-head feeling! Yes, you can be sure the changes in your face won’t last forever. They say you get three months or so from Botox, and that was my experience. I was sad, in a way, to see the 11 re-emerge. Good to stop the droop though! And I’m settling in to accepting the age I am. (Or trying to, anyway…)