Herald Journal Columns
March 13, 2006, Herald Journal

Poke me in the face, please


Once upon a time, people agreed to endure a needle poking into their skin to dodge life-threatening diseases like polio.

Now, we have deemed a different foe worthy of the great silver stick; wrinkles.

These days, laugh lines are more crippling than polio, at least to valley girls who think polio is the game with the horses and the water.

These great skin creases can apparently cripple the 30-, 40-, 50-year-olds, and older, among us, bringing down whole generations of people who shrink at the thought of growing old, or at least, looking old.

I’m not a fan of needles. They didn’t bother me until I had an inexperienced nurse poke me for a tetanus shot, decide she missed the vein, and move it around in my arm.

Call me crazy, but I try to steer clear of acute pain.

So, the thought of voluntarily waltzing into a clinic and demanding my face be punctured with tiny needles and filled with fluid seems more like a torture assignment than a beauty treatment.

Imagine if these injections weren’t so commonplace.

A woman walks into her clinic. She asks the receptionist if she can have a bacterium (what some anti-wrinkle injections are made of) shot into her face with a needle.

The nurse, shocked, asks the woman if she is ill, and reaches for the number to the nearest looney bin.

The woman coolly assures her she is not ill, merely superficial.

This is not so, as treatments like this have become normal.

I see advertisements in magazines for such treatments. The ads are cleverly designed to hit their target audiences.

Some of the ones I’ve seen feature attractive, yet believably every-day looking women.

They are always laughing and smiling. Which begs the question; are they happy, or are their faces merely frozen in that perpetual expression?

The words on the page list the reason those women chose to poke their faces – I’m worth it, for my daughter’s wedding, etc.

The ads focus on important events and appeal to a group of people who don’t often think of themselves; targeting middle-aged women who have been working their way up on the career ladder, raising kids, or paying attention to their husbands for the past 10, 20, 30 years.

Apparently all of that wasn’t enough suffering, so we thought we’d inflate your lips with fluid.

But my favorite one is the ad that features a coy, confident-looking woman who stares up from the page. Her reason? “I did it for me.”


It’s simply not possible, at least, not in an un-convoluted way.

This reason is used to defend a host of beauty and cosmetic treatments, such as liposuction and implants.

If that truly is her reason, then I have a question for her.

Would you still choose to spend thousands of dollars on a potentially painful beauty treatment, that doesn’t even last for years, if you were stranded on an island and had no human contact?

Would smaller pores and cellulite-free legs be that important if you were all alone eating coconuts out of their shells?

I think not. Therefore, it is truly not for you.

It is really for the satisfaction you get from knowing that people around you find you more attractive.

But unless you spend 24 hours a day in front of the mirror (which may not be out of the question for people who think like this), it is not you that is looking at you.

It is other people; therefore, the treatment is for them.

I can buy into the fact that it raises your confidence level. But perhaps the problem is more in this fact than in the procedure.

If your confidence level depends on your appearance, then it is not only an injection of bacterium, but of self-esteem.

Self-esteem is so important it might be worth that price tag. But some things you just can’t buy.

The symptom will be fixed, but the problem will remain unsolved, under the wrinkle-free exterior.

Of course, this sort of vanity is not a new problem. And it is certainly not restricted to any age, race, or gender.

For example, several people in China (more than any other country) have gone through painful leg-lengthening surgery to move ahead in business (studies show more prestigious business positions are dominated by tall people).

This surgery involves the breaking and lengthening of the legs through pushing the bones farther apart with steel pins.

I know what you thinking, “Where do I sign?” But not to worry, most of us already have.

The first high-heels were invented in France, so wealthy women could prove they were so rich they didn’t need to walk.

Well, the joke’s on us. Although many might find this line of reasoning dated and ridiculous – what kind of shoes do you wear?

It is not necessarily the specific treatments, themselves, that are alarming, but the people who treat them so religiously.

Good grooming habits are not harmful, and perhaps admirable. Most women wear make-up, buy skin care products, and, at least occasionally, don high heels.

Many men lift weights, dye their hair, tame their facial hair (hopefully), and some even “do” their hair.

But it is the obsession with all things superficial, the life-long search people commit to look but a few years younger, and the amount of money thrown out the window in search of the perfect pout, that is anything but beautiful.

While people rush to fill themselves with bacterium, collagen, and silicone. it’s no wonder they have little room for common sense, character, and compassion for those who are searching for their next meal, not their next manicure.

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