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“How I Really Feel About Cosmetic Surgery”

Eight women share their very different – and very personal – views

By Felicity Robinson

‘I feel like it’s anti-feminist, but…’

“I’d never given much thought to Botox or fillers until my late thirties when two deep lines formed between my eyebrows, giving me the appearance of someone who is perpetually angry. Until then, I’d dismissed Botox as being anti-feminist.

“My personal trainer referred me to her doctor, and I was really nervous the first time I had it done. But I tried what he called ‘baby Botox’. You could barely see the difference, but I loved it. The next time I got a little more and after that I had a tiny bit of filler as well (just in the lines above my forehead). I do worry that getting “tweakments” is a slippery slope to having more and more cosmetic work (although I haven’t been tempted to have anything else yet). And I wish I didn’t care so much about how I look. But it does make me look and feel better.” — Jessica, 40

‘I love it – and I’ve had heaps’

“In my 20s, people were always asking me if I was tired, or if I’d had a big night. So when I had tear-trough filler, under my eyes, I felt the whole look of my face changed. I looked refreshed and I felt like me. Having started with lip filler when I was 25, now I have fillers and anti-wrinkle injections all over my face and neck, everywhere from my naso-labial fold to the area under my chin. I was once a model for forehead filler. I don’t have ‘pillow face’; to me it looks natural. I don’t want to look younger – all I want is to look good for my age.” ­­— Kate, 34

‘I’ve had to come to terms with ageing’

“After my second anti-wrinkle treatment in 2018, I experienced a severe allergic reaction. One side of my face and the back of my head swelled up, and I felt incredibly hot and itchy. After a day of increasing symptoms, I rang the local emergency department to see what I should do. The triage nurse listened to my symptoms and when I told her I’d had anti-wrinkle injections, she said, “Well, that’s silly, isn’t it?” I felt ashamed, like I was a silly woman driven by vanity. The thing is, I’d loved the results of my first injections. I liked meeting 35-year-old me in the mirror, looking rested and refreshed. So I’ve had to come to terms with the idea that I will be ageing naturally, and I’m going to be the odd one out.”  — Jill, 47

‘My nose job has changed my self-perception’

“Every time I looked at myself in a photograph, all I saw was my nose and how crooked it looked. But until a few years ago, I lacked the courage to do anything about it, although I’d thought about rhinoplasty forever. But six years ago, I had the operation, with a surgeon I knew, who straightened and slightly reduced my nose.

“The recovery was quite intense – I’m not sure I could endure it again, knowing what it entailed. The discomfort of having splints lodged inside your nose wasn’t fun. But when the bandages came off, the first time I looked in the mirror was a revelation. I was so pleased that I couldn’t stop looking at myself, taking photos from every different angle.” — Elle, 43

‘I’m trying to embrace natural ageing’

“I’d like to say that my decision not to have any invasive cosmetic treatments was driven by strong feminist principles or something, but I suspect that it’s really just fear. Not a fear of needles, but worry about how I’d feel if I found myself unable to make my face move as freely as I can now (I have very expressive features). I’m also trying to embrace ageing, rather than fighting the inevitable. That said, I sometimes waver. I work in media and women become invisible as they get older – literally, they disappear from workplaces. There are very few women in their 50s in senior positions, it seems to me. When you’re at an event with fresh-faced twentysomethings, and you’ve had a tiring night with the kids, a shot of Botox looks very appealing.”  — Felicity, 43

‘I don’t tell my partner’

“I used to work in events and marketing, in a client-facing role. I often felt tired, but it’s one thing being wreck, and another looking it. So when I was 28, I started getting anti-wrinkle injections and fillers in my forehead and chin, and fillers under my eyes, which were slightly sunken like my mum’s. I haven’t told my partner that I have injections, and I didn’t tell my previous partner, either – and neither noticed. I feel like it’s a woman’s beauty secret. I’m not ashamed about having them, but it’s one of those things that people love to comment on, and I don’t want to feel obliged to justify my choices.” — Claire, 34

‘I regret my breast implants’

“In my teens, my self-esteem was very poor, partly because I was teased so much about being so tall and skinny. I wanted to feel more confident and sexy, so I had breast implants aged 19 and fillers in my face in my 20s. There were moments when I felt better about myself, but they were fleeting; I used my appearance to mask my lack of confidence. Then two years ago, I started to feel pain and swelling in one of my breasts, but when I called my surgeon he dismissed it as nothing to worry about. The pain improved, but then returned last year so I went back. Reluctantly, he agreed to send me for an ultrasound, which showed a rupture in the other breast, which hadn’t displayed any symptoms. Silicon had been leaking into my body, for who knows how long.

“In November, I had both implants removed, and the surgeon discovered inflammation and infection, as well as a rupture that hadn’t shown up on scans. I feel so much better now. I’m not anti-implants necessarily, particularly for women who have them after cancer treatment, for example. But I could have saved myself years of pain if I’d addressed my underlying anxiety and depression, rather than changing how I looked.” — Serena, 39

‘I’ve never felt better about my body’

“Last Christmas, I wore all the clothes I’d wanted to wear, but couldn’t; low-cut and backless tops, and bikinis. I was three months post-op from breast reduction surgery and my confidence and self-esteem was – and is – immeasurably better than it was.

“Since the age of 23, I’d been an E-cup, which really limited what I could wear. Bikinis were uncomfortable as they couldn’t hold my breasts in place; I was having to wear two sports bras to go to the gym or go running. When I got home from work every day and took my bra off to have a shower, I would get shooting pains as my boobs “dropped” from having no bra on. Last June, as I was getting ready to go out for my birthday, I broke down to my partner, and told him how I felt about my body. The next week, I booked an appointment with a surgeon. With my new, small-C breasts, I’ve never felt better.” — Maria, 29





BY Felicity Robinson

Felicity is the co-founder of PRIMER

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