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Take That Look Off Your Face! Wednesday May 6, 2015

Okay, confession time. I Botox.


And you all have an opinion about that, don't you?

Yes, once every three months I pay a week's grocery money to a woman who injects me with one of the most deadly toxins known to man. It paralyses the muscles in my forehead so that I can no longer frown.

Why? Why would I do that? Far less pay good money for it?

Let's get one thing straight. I'm fifty-two (as of yesterday). I have no problem with being fifty-two, in fact I quite like it. I have no problem with owning and claiming the laughter lines around my eyes, around my mouth and the worry lines further up my forehead.
The frown lines are a different matter.

The problem lies not so much in the lines themselves but in the story they tell. The frown lines, when my face is in repose, say "this woman is grumpy and bad tempered." They don't tell the truth. The truth is rather "this woman frowns when she concentrates. And she's found that most things in life need concentration if you're going to get them right."

The lines had become very deep. At every professional photo shoot the photographer would say, matter of factly, "So I'll get rid of the frown lines for you, shall I?" My daughter commented, "Mummy – you always look grumpy, even when I know you're not." My beautician asked for some potting compost as then she could grow leeks in them. I'd like to think she's exaggerating but she assures me they had their own microclimate down there and that she heard they auditioned to be the stunt double for the Mariana Trench!

So yes, I have Botox injections. I've had them for two years now and the lines are fainter, but still there. That's Okay. I do frown – it's one of the wonderful facial expressions by which we humans communicate. But the lines no longer present a falsehood about my character.

Now – I haven't noticed this myself, but studies carried out have suggested that, when people have Botox and therefore cannot frown, they notice that they are happier. And we all know that we can make ourselves feel better by standing up straight and smiling, don't we? (And I'm not talking about the fake show we put on to hide our depression from others, Okay?)

One of my favourite quotations about beauty came from a former Vogue Editor (although I cannot discover which) who said: "If you are not beautiful when you're sixteen, you can blame Mother Nature. If you are not beautiful when you are sixty, you have no one to blame but yourself."

It's true: we write who we are on our faces. And it is not our experiences in life which tell our story, but the manner in which we have met those experiences.

So I suggest we smile, even when it's hard. Go on, let's use our facial expressions to write some good character lines. What will yours say?

A Moodscope member.

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Hopeful One Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 8:16am

Hi Mary - good blog.Mind you stop with the botox where you are now unlike the lady who had angina and was admitted to the hospital for by pass operation. She has a dream in which she thinks she is going to die.But God appears in the same dream and she asks him if that is true.'No no my dear 'he says' you will leave for another thirty years' The goes well.While in recovery she thinks if I am going to live for 30 years I will sort out myself so she has the botox ,liposuction ,nose job and feels a new woman. She leaves hospital but unfortunately does not look right left and right again and gets run over by a car.She ends up in heaven and eventually meets God.So she asks' What happened?You said I would live for 30 years' and God says I didn't recognize you'. I know you like a joke so couldn't resist that.

Rupert Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 8:17am

Interesting one today Mary! Surely it is your super soft skin that is causing the frown lines? I do agree though that if you feel better about yourself and how you look then it gives you a better outlook generally. Not in a vain "TOWIE" way but just how you feel you are being perceived by those around you. Rupert

valerie Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 9:56am

Yes,on and off over 15 years or so I have Botoxed,filled,and had no end of other procedures.In fact the first Doctor who did my Botox wrote a paper after I reported that I felt more cheerful being unable to frown.My current Botox practitioner phoned last week and asked if I would be a guinea pig.She is going on a course to do a threading non-surgical facelift,and has to take a model.I get it for free,so jumped at the chance.It will probably seem pathetic to a lot of younger /male Moodscopers,but it is much easier to be nice to others and yourself when you can look in the mirror and feel you don't look too bad for your age.I won't say how old I am,but let's just say I clearly remember where I was when Kennedy was assassinated!

Anonymous Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 10:02am

Hi Mary, that was really interesting. I love the Vogue quote- I'm not 60 yet- 51 very soon- I know I am no beauty, but there are times when I feel a miilion dollars....if only we could bottle that feeling and take a swig when we are feeling low- perhaps just remembereing the feeling will suffice and do the trick!!?

Anonymous Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 10:59am

I would be really scared that injecting poison into my head would mess up my chemical balance which is messed up enough already:)

w00dsmoke Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 11:17am

I found this blog very sad.
Over the years life has made us what we are and inevitably it shows in our face.
I am now older, wiser, wrinkly and less bothered by what others think. I am now what I am - and life has produced a road map upon my face to represent my experiences. Good and bad.
Why do women and some men feel the need to pretend to be younger than they really are? They are only fooling themselves. This ultimately can only lead to depression.
Personally I have found some of the most delightful and interesting individuals spend very little time on attending to their outward appearance - but more time trying to improve their inner minds. It’s this that makes them a better, happier and a more complete person.
Take more interest in the important things in life - rather than titivating one self in such a superficial way.
Old age is like everything else, to make a success of it, you've got to start young.
You can only perceive real beauty in a person, as they get older.

I sent this to Moodscope sometime ago but it was never published.
I was visiting the local Marks & Spencer’s food hall the other day, when my attention was distracted nearly causing me to collide into a display of freshly baked baguettes.
The reason for this momentary loss of concentration, was that I observed a young lady, about 35ish, gliding and sashaying amongst the packaged meat and fresh vegetable islands.
What caught my attention was that she was not only simply - but elegantly dressed. Indeed, simplicity personified.
(She was somewhat taller than my self), but she radiated a simply beautiful ‘eau natural’ demean.
Admittedly, she had a beautiful facial bone structure, but what I found so refreshing was that she wore absolutely no makeup that I could detect.
Her only facial adornment was a delightful and friendly smile.
I just managed to restrain myself from approaching her and complementing her how beautiful she looked. (We men have to be so careful these days - I might have found myself arrested!).
Anyway, this caused me to consider, - why do many women wear so much make up?
For example, there is also a stunning girl / lady about the same age as the aforementioned, who I see on an almost daily basic
However, the difference between the two ladies is like ‘Chalk and Cheese’.
This cosmetically challenged cutie, wears copious amounts of makeup together with dollops of lipstick. Her eye makeup is well over the top and she has recently started to sprinkle glitter dust under her eyes. Also she has been noticed sporting and displaying several tattoos and assorted body piercings.
In my youthful day’s, we used to call this ‘Gilding the Lilly’, however, it seems to becoming the norm or default position for many of today’s young ladies. They seem to wish to emulate a Halloween type Gargoyle, a Barbie Doll or a spray-tanned dancer on ‘sickly come dancing’.
Personally, I find there is nothing so off-putting as a female with too much makeup.
Who are they trying to attract? Are they spending too much time in front of a mirror and thereby becoming too self obsessed?
This can only ultimately lead to depression, as there is always someone in life who is more attractive, wealthier, more intelligent etc, etc.
Learn to love yourself despite any faults. Nobody is perfect - even me!

Anonymous Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 11:20am

Hi Mary. People who take botox for vanity reasons always make me mad.I have a condition called Dystonia or also known as Spasmodic Torticollis.This causes my neck to spasm to the right.I have had this for twenty years and used to get botox injections in my neck to stop the muscle spasms from pulling my neck.I say used to because the pain got so bad that I chose to have deep brain stimulation as a final resort to get rid of the pain.For the uninitiated this involves putting two electrodes down into the brain and connecting them to a stimulator in my chest which now sends electric pulses to the brain to stop the spasms.The operation helped slightly despite the clot that devejoped during surgery and resulted in me waking up paralysed down my left side!I also have bipolar and wrote a book called 'Footprints in the Sand' about my experiences.Mary why don't you give the money you spend on Botox to the Dystonia Society that is there to help people who really need it!

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 11:24am

LOVE IT! (and am now tempted to change my profile picture so that you actually don't recognise me!). No danger of me changing too much - I actually like who I am - most of the time - when not in the slough of despond or the belly of the great grey leviathan! Thanks for that - it made me chuckle.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 11:26am

Hmmm - I think the only soft thing is my hands that do dishes.... (I think we're both old enough to remember that one!). My job is all about presenting the (flattering) truth about ourselves, so - yup - it all fits in.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 11:30am

Hi Valarie, I hope that nobody here will think you pathetic. I hope we all rejoice that there's at least something that makes you feel good! You mention young male readers. I will be posting next week about a dear friend of mine who is now a fitness model (muscles, my dear, start salivating now!). He started working out originally to compensate for his feelings of inadequacy and low self esteem. Men and women, young and old, we are all in the same place. We just seek slightly different paths.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 11:31am

And, by the way, I'm slightly envious of your opportunity to be a guinea pig. I'd leap at it too!

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 11:44am

Thank you for your thoughtful and considered reply. I had hoped I'd made it clear that I am happy to accept all the lines of aging on my face that accurately reflex my character: I was not happy to present a lie. My day job is one of Image Consultant, and my outward presentation is my brand, Human beings make all sorts of judgements based on visual messages and you will see from your submitted post that you do yourself: bare face = good; make up, piercings and tattoos = bad. But for some people there is a self-expression and joy in adorning themselves in that way, and acceptance is all they ask from the world.

For me - without the botox I look as if I am frowning constantly, as if I am cross and grumpy. If that is not true, then I almost have a responsibility to present the truth, do I not?

I won't start however on the glitter, piercings and tattoos just yet!

Sally Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 12:53pm

Hi Mary,
I loved this blog! You teased us, didn't you?!
You KNEW that most of us would IMMEDIATELY jump to ( wrong) conclusions about the Botox thing...and in my case, you'd have been entirely right! I hold my hands up. I, I am not going to bore you all with a loooooong list of my dislikes. But you get the picture.
And so I was wrong ! It happens all the ruddy time! And your piece was very good in that it put forward another view, and made me think more objectively about my prejudices. It was educational and heartening in equal measures because you are someone I have great admiration for ...virtually speaking, of course...I do not know you " off paper! " as it were.... Bravo, well done, all of that, Mary! On this unpleasantly rainy and windy day here, it came as a true breath of fresh air. I shall never prejudge again..until the next time, haha! Not- perfect- Sally xx

valerie Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 1:10pm

I am very sorry indeed that you have to endure the pain and disability that your condition causes.I suppose I can understand how you have come to define yourself by your illnesses,physical and mental.
I don't think this gives you or woodsmoke the right to be patronising or judgmental about the way women like Mary or myself choose to spend our hard-earned cash.For myself,when I see a young girl with thick make-up I cast my mind back to when I could have passed for Dusty Springfield.I recall why I needed this protective mask to help me cope with a dreadful life at home,and feel like giving the girl a hug,not sneering at her.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 1:50pm

Thank you Sally! You got my point. And bless you for saying so - because I was beginning to wonder.... Thanks again!

Sally Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 3:11pm

You're welcome, Mary! I suspect many got your point but just haven't posted..
Btw, I rarely read comments before writing mine. That way, I feel I can write more objectively.
I read the other comments subsequently, though. The risk is, of course, that you repeat a point someone else has made, but I am always surprised at how different our replies/ comments all are, and so, touch wood, it tends not to occur that often that I am being someone else's little echo..

Anonymous Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 4:05pm

Hi Mary, Botox isn't for me (for lots of reasons) but I'm a "whatever gets you through the night" kind of person on! :-) love from the room above the garage x.

The Entertrainer Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 4:10pm

Great joke, Hopeful One!
Hi Mary... fascinatingly, today I was listening to Richard Wiseman's comment on Proprioceptive Psychology (and, yes, I shall blog on this). Without giving too much away, it is now an established fact that, of course, we naturally smile when we are happy... but also an established fact that a genuine smile reminds the brain of the state of mind associated with that smile - happiness. A smile triggers happiness as much as happiness triggers a smile.

Hopeful One Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 4:53pm

Hi The Entertainer- and the curious thing is that it doesn't seem to matter why we are smiling or at or with whom or on our own.

Anonymous Wed, May 6th 2015 @ 6:18pm

Hi Mary, it's awful to feel that you don't look like 'yourself'. Sometimes our faces have been changed by excessive stress or illness or a condition of some sort which has nothing to do with natural ageing... and if you can do something to get back the face that looks like 'you', that is important to self-esteem. It is a matter of choice as to how we achieve this. Facial exercises keep me up to speed. Thanks for your blog. I think it was quite a brave one. susan xx

Anonymous Thu, May 7th 2015 @ 12:49am

Thank you Mary for your brave and honest blog. Just today on the subway home from work I was noticing the frowns on the commuters' faces and made myself consciously smile. I was stressed and it immediately made me feel better.
I'm so glad you shared your Botox story. There is evidence that our facial expression communicates to our brain danger or safety. It's even a skill in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy - the half-smile. So thank you again for the reminder to smile!

Anonymous Thu, May 7th 2015 @ 7:29am

Hi Mary, interesting view point and interesting to read the responses, and the obvious passion and polarisation behind them. Compassion is I think an important part of acceptance and I think maybe that these too maybe useful tools in overcoming depressive episodes. Hope you have joy today with your frownless forehead, I think the note about feeling more cheered when unable to frown is akin to cheering up by smiling sending positive signals to the brain. You go girl! Eve

Anonymous Thu, May 7th 2015 @ 10:27am

Marymou! Just read your post. Love it! I think what is interesting is that we know well that you are the kind of woman who is comfortable in her own skin, so whatever treatments or care you take the time to pamper yourself with must only come from a goodly place within. For me, it was a much needed reminder that it is OK (important) to pamper myself and to spend time doing so, something I often neglect, to the detriment of my wellbeing.
I'll make it my endeavour to start "writing some good character lines too!"

Anonymous Thu, May 7th 2015 @ 11:46am

I know it doesn't give me the right to be patronising or judgemental.It does however give me the right to express an opinion which is what I was doing!

Julia Thu, May 7th 2015 @ 4:48pm

I am so sorry you have Dystonia, Anonymous. I felt so sorry when I read your comment yesterday. I hadn't heard of it but am glad I know about it now from you. You have suffered a great deal and there was no need for you to suffer again on this site, of all sites. I was sad (again) to read Valerie's comments. I should have written yesterday but quite frankly I think I must have missed the point of Mary's blog which Sally pointed out below. So I am thankful I didn't comment as it would have been negative. However I do feel for you and think you should have had more support yesterday. I hope my support now is not too late for you and you will continue to read the blogs and comment when you feel inspired to do so. I for one did not think you were being judgemental or patronising. Far from it. How could you be with your physical and bi polar problems!xx

Undisclosed Fri, May 8th 2015 @ 5:22pm

Mary I always enjoy your blogs which I always read as emails. Sometimes I don't get around to reading the mails daily so sit down and read a few at a time. For some reason today I clicked onto moodscope blog and have read the above blog and it has saddened me. I thank you for your honesty. We are all dealing with struggles in our lives I try very hard to not make judgements on people's opinions and treat every individual as a person who is just trying to survive and get through. It saddens me that a person's opinion can be criticised but I also feel that people need to be mindful that their opinions might cause upset. Lets just all try and support each other. A person if free to spend their money how they choose someones mental health is not less or more important than psychological health. If botox helps you then I am pleased. I tried it for my bipolar depression and I did not notice mood enhancing benefit but did get asked for ID (lol!). There is no amount of money that I would not spend on my physical, mental, emotional state and physical appearance if it made me feel better. I urge people to really think before they blog. I have written this and it takes great courage to write about controversial issues and I would hate to think it has put you off or lowered your mood. Please keep blogging

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