During a recent conversation, a male friend of mine in the beauty industry advised me on a particular Botox procedure that would improve my looks. While Botox is something that never crossed my mind before, I started to really think about it. I imagined my face with this new procedure – how pretty I’d feel, pondered the confidence boost and definitely rationalized how mornings would be easier with one less make-up step.
But as I mused over the temptation of the ‘benefits’ that may derive from increasing physical attraction, a realization came into my head. Am I on an endless pursuit of pretty? Of perfection? Will this insatiable appetite to improve my looks, my hair, my body – ever be met? Or is there something more deep rooted going on here?
Yes, at a very young age we are primed as little girls that being pretty and girly is rewarded. As a young girl, I learned how being cute would get my way. As I entered grade school, I learned that the pretty girls were the ones that boys gave attention to. And as I entered high school, I learned that looking and acting more “grown up” coupled with pretty and sexuality was what brought attention and getting a dance partner at the high school dances. In my early twenties I thought oozing sexual energy and a carefree party girl energy was empowering. I got tons of attention, albeit, most of it the wrong type of attention.
Now in my late twenties, I look back and see how I was “rewarded” for pretty. And while I have learned that it is my values, my spirit and soul that is what my friends and the few loves of my life cherish about me, and am able to look in the mirror and be satisfied with the reflection – I still find myself at times stuck at the Botox question. Why?
I think that when you are used to getting attention or praise for looks, you focus on that as the point of why people like you. So, a cycle begins, and you want to keep improving that one thing you are getting rewarded or given attention for. However, along the way, it is so easy to get caught up that you forget what really makes you a beautiful being.
During a recent trip to another metropolitan city, I went out to the popular social spots. Being one of the only Asian girls in the crowd, I received a fair amount of attention. I admit, I relished in it – and mentally, I became so focused on continuing to attract that attention that I wouldn’t even step out to get a coffee without mascara on. I ended up attracted a male that caught my eye and found myself at 21 again, wanting to look “perfect” for him. In a sense, I played the “Siren”. The Siren can be referred to as the girl who uses her looks and seductive ways of flirting to gain the attention of the man. By default, she must engage in the perpetual maintenance of that extension presented in order to sustain the attention of the man in the first place. The little girl in her says, “If he likes me because I’m pretty, then the equation would seem that being pretty would equal being liked more”. This has nothing really to do with the male – it’s all to do with the reality you chose to create inside your head, and in this case, my head. And it’s quite an exhausting cycle, and ironically, detrimental to the self-esteem.
Now, I’m not saying to just stop caring about your presentation or how you look, nor am I saying that I’ll never actually go through with Botox one day. But I am saying, try to understand the real reasons behind it. I have had friends that have danced with anorexia, bulimia and pills in the quest to be thinner than a size 2. I have often equated pretty = men will like/love you. It’s an illusion so ingrained that it can actually eat at your true beauty. And whatever the procedure, whether it is fake tanning, surgery or Botox, the pursuit of pretty is an endless one, and one with a destination that can never be obtained.
Photo credit: Giulio Volo