Quest for Perfect Selfie Leads to . . . Botox?

16999113 - close up of beautiful woman gets an injection in her faceThe cultural obsession with flawless beauty and the need to look “photoshopped” has sparked a boom in Botox injections for women as young as 18 years-old.

The StarTribune is reporting on the latest trend among millennials – some as young as 18 – who don’t see anything wrong with “getting work done” to improve their looks.

“Botox treatments for those 19 to 34 years old shot up by 41 percent between 2011 and 2015, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery,” the Tribune reports. “The use of Botox tends to rise and fall with the economy. It peaked prerecession in 2005, fell off dramatically during the downturn and now has returned to high levels, with more than half a million procedures a year in this age range.”

But submitting to the treatments – with an average price tag of $525 per treatment – isn’t just dictated by the economy.

Jordan Bailey, a 25 year-old clinical assistant and aesthetician, cites the influence of social media and celebrities for why she has had procedures to plump her lips and soften her eyes and jaw line. After watching shows like The Real Housewives and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, she admits that seeing the actresses’ flawless complexions and perfectly plumped lips sends a message to women that it’s not okay to have wrinkles or thin lips.

“You see nothing but beautiful, flawless people everywhere,” Bailey said.

Even though she sees nothing wrong with getting Botox injections to improve her looks, she also admits, “It’s addicting when you see the results right away and love it,” she said. “It’s a slippery slope, but I think most people want to look natural and not overdone.”

For 33 year-old real estate agent Melanie Lafferty, who has been getting Botox injections around her eyes for a year, it’s all about eliminating the dark circles under her eyes that result from 50-hour work weeks.

“I look less tired and a little freshened up,” she told the Tribune. “I’m OK with keeping up with the times.”

botoxAccording to Richard Tholen, a plastic surgeon at Minneapolis Plastic Surgery and Carillon Clinic, “Botox is being marketed in a preventive sense, rather than a treatment sense” with younger women now using it to keep their youthful looks longer.

Tholen has seen patients as young as 18 seeking treatments. “At 18, most people still look pretty good, and yet we do have some 18-year-old patients,” Tholen said. “That’s typically driven by — say — their 36-year-old mothers who want their daughters to look good in a preventive sense and stay looking good.”

Botox, which is the brand name for the drug botulinum toxin, is the world’s most lethal neurotoxic agent, the Tribune reports. It works by paralyzing certain muscles or blocking certain nerves.

The problem is that the treatment only lasts a few months, which means patients in search of the perfect selfie must keep coming back for more. For young people, many of whom are still paying back crippling school loans, the cost can be a real burden.

“The thing I dislike the most is that some patients are spending a high percentage of their income on cosmetic procedures,” Bryan Rolfes, a facial plastic surgeon at Omni Facial Plastic Surgery in Wayzata told the Tribune. “I don’t always feel comfortable about those situations, but it’s not my place to judge where people spend their money.”

Wendy Jensen, 33, was introduced to the wonders of Botox at a Botox party and equated the treatment with “whitening your teeth.” Even though it cost her $625, the flattering attention from friends made it all worth it.

“I loved it. I would do it every six months if I could afford it,” she said. “I can tell I’m getting older and I want to look like I did in my 20s.”

The moral of this story is that too many young women are experiencing pressure to look like the photoshopped images they see in magazines or in television shows that present women as little more than good-looking clothes trees in makeup. Besides making them feel so unsatisfied with their looks that they resort to Botox injections that many probably can’t afford, they may also be suffering from other unhealthy effects of the media.

For example, research has found that the unrealistic beauty ideals presented in the media are a major contributor to low self-esteem in women. In one study, 71 percent of girls with low self-esteem said they didn’t feel “pretty enough, thin enough, stylish enough or trendy enough” compared to the images they are exposed to in popular media. A whopping 80 percent of adult women in the same study said the images of the women on TV, in movies magazines, makes them feel insecure about their appearance.

We can only pray that women pressured to look perfect in order to feel desirable may one day understand that real beauty isn’t something we wear –  it comes from that place deep inside where the beautiful image of our Creator is found.

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