I'm a self-professed hippie: I buy organic foods for myself and my family. My kids rarely eat junk food. I get acupuncture. Go to yoga. But since I've turned 40, and since that deep crease between my eyebrows is no longer a cute crinkle, like the kind of crinkle I used to make when looking at someone like they’re nuts, I must say... I’ve thought about getting Botox.
When I confess this to friends, they’re shocked. They shoot me a look from their raised un-botoxed eyebrows. “Really? Botox? You?” they say.
"I'm done with the crease," I announce and then point to the valley between my eyebrows. Not-so-good friends say, “There is no crease!” Good friends deliver the brutal reality. “Oh, yes. That thing.” But vanity hasn’t trumped my dedication to a healthy lifestyle—it's hard to wrestle with the idea of injecting poison into my skin.
While it seems that everyone in this country is getting Botox, or at least all of the Real Housewives, I actually only have two friends talking about it. (One of them is also a former hippie who despised the lines across her forehead.) In search of other women struggling with their own Botox debate, I began openly talking about it. To the moms at my son’s playground. To family. To my mother, who responded with a, “Don’t you dare.”
I talked about it so much that I even commiserated with a bartender who asked for my I.D. at a recent Phish concert (another example of my hippiedom). “You don’t really need my I.D., do you?” I asked. “Can’t you take the crease as proof?” I pointed to my third eye. She laughed and said, “I have the same crease!” We talked about the 40-year-old set's eruption of vanity and what the process of aging does to your psyche.
It reminded me of a conversation I had with my father when he turned 60. Aging was an out-of-body experience, he told me. “You look in the mirror at yourself and you see this 60- or 65-year-old body. But then you feel so young and you think, this can’t be my body. Can it?” I never really understood the Benjamin Button-like paradox because… I was too young. Only five years ago, I hardly wore makeup except smoky eyeliner on Saturday night and okay, a little cover up under the eyes. But as any woman of my age will tell you, 35 to 40 are critical age-sucking years. Stress, sun damage, lack of sleep and genes reveal themselves to you—and your skin—for an unforgiving 40th birthday surprise.
Which brings me back to Botox—or any age erasers for that matter. Botox, I’ve realized, is more than just a vanity fix. It’s an aging fix. As Olympia Dukakis asked Danny Aiello in Moonstruck, “Why do men chase women?” Danny Aiello reluctantly answered, “Because they fear death.” Maybe this is the same case for a woman my age. Woman my age. I cringe writing those words because I love being my age! I feel as young and as vibrant as I’ve ever been (except when my kids wake me up at 6 a.m.). I’m in a great marriage. I finally feel like I’m in control of what I want in life and what I don’t need. Forty has been a blessing.
The caveat? My skin isn’t holding up to its end of the bargain. It’s slacking, it’s browning, it’s crinkling and it’s rough. For the first time the other day I looked in the mirror and thought, I look my age. And then I thought, I need to find a dermatologist immediately. It’s possible that I’m so interested in going against all of my healthy life principals by injecting poison into my face because it will make me feel further away from death.
Either way, I’m going to wait on it. I’ll try to accept my crease. Get more facials. I’ll slather on my outrageously expensive organic wild plum eye cream in a circular motion all over my eye area as my esthetician instructed (She actually said: “No more pussy footing around with your eye care.”), knowing full well that it’s not going to ever be the remedy that I’m looking for, which is to have the skin I had in my 30s. But it’ll do just fine for now.