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Beauty is pain
February 25, 2023
On one Friday night a couple of weeks ago while feeling ambitious and perhaps a little too confident, I sat back in a doctor’s chair as the kind man leaned in and said “beauty is pain” as he stuck the first prick of lip injections into my upper lip.
To say I was prepared for the needle but not the beauty industry jargon that was just muttered before me, would be all too right.
I winced in discomfort, not from the small needles and the injections spreading beneath my numb lips, but from the immediate frustration I felt from the well known saying that beauty is pain. I despise the phrase, as obviously it is bonkers to begin with, but especially because I know that I am beautiful; I just got the fillers for fun.
There is such a stigma around body modifications of any kind, from the extremes like complete reconstruction surgeries, all the way down to a little bit of botox around the smile lines. It doesn’t matter what you get even if it is so natural that nobody could ever tell; if you utter the words
“I got *insert cosmetic surgery* recently,” you are considered a crazy person.
Before the date of my lip injections, I was a bit of a snob about facial enhancements of any kind. Since these types of procedures were typically seen only on the filthy rich and celebrities, who all have the resources to get as much as they see fit, I felt a bit off about it. I always felt bad that the person felt like they needed them and also, to be completely honest, judged them a bit. I get embarrassed at the thought of myself probably pushing my dumpy nose to the sky at anyone who would ever ask me about this topic, and I can definitely recall saying once “I would never do such a thing,” but here is the real thing: I did, and I love it.
Something changed my mind about facial enhancement procedures. Perhaps it was just too many hours at the age of 14 staring into a hand mirror like a villain creeping up on me in the night. Did my confidence that has served me for too long just give out? No, and no. I simply got jealous that my friend was getting them. Oh my, there I said it. Something that I am sure made the folks that are too stuck up to admit it, that sometimes I follow the march of others into some mainstream trends.
Some would once say that I was keeping up with the Joneses, but in today’s era, are we just keeping up with the Kardashians?
The American reality royalty family, the Kardashians have dominated fashion and pop culture since 2007. These California girls have set many fashion trends over the years, but arguably the biggest one is their use of cosmetic surgeries. Of course, they hide it from the public, as most people do in their recovery stages, but it is very obvious that they are done up with all sorts of fillers and enhancements. This might be controversial, and I want to say that I do enjoy a good “Keeping up with the Kardashians” clip. But they are the reason so many people view the world of plastic beauty in such a negative way. We all remember Khloé and Kylie’s old faces, or when Kris had wrinkles. They went from fairly normal looking people in the beginning of their show, to almost too recognizable now. They normalized a once far out and beyond belief ideal of making yourself look different, or just updating what you’ve got.
The Kardashians are a perfect example of how power and wealth can affect your taste, style and look, from what you wear all the way down to your bones. They have always had money, even when they would have classified themselves as broke, and they have always had some sort of status, and they know that. One thing that they didn’t realize that they had before all of what is today, is looks.
I thought about this, all of this, as I sat and let the man with the needle create mounds of Juvederm into my lips. Pictures of people who now resemble feline characters like the late Joan Rivers and Gloria Vanderbilt, or like the great Amanda Lepore. I felt anxiety as my extraordinarily numb lips started to feel as if they were a balloon being filled with a bicycle pump. After what felt like a million pokes, but was probably less than ten, the man passed me a hand mirror and asked how I felt.
Later that night while sitting in my nightgown criss-cross applesauce on the couch, holding my own hand mirror, I asked my closest friend a simple question: “Did I make a huge mistake?” to which he kindly sat in silence for a brief moment collecting his thoughts and then said, “No, but is this going to become a huge problem?” I hadn’t really thought about that at all. I mean, I didn’t really need the filler in the first place, and I am starting to love the way my lips are now. Am I creating an insecurity that I hadn’t had before?
The feeling of unease came over me as I realized that after I got my lips done, the first thing I did as soon as I came home was stare in the mirror, observing my swollen lips, but also tugging up my under neck and pulling back my forehead.
Since the beginning of time, beauty standards have always been a thing, and its pain and torture has always been prevalent, not only physically but mentally as well. So I leave you with one question; Is beauty more of a mental pain, or must you endure pain to be beautiful?
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