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Are intelligent, confident, successful women choosing to get facial 'work' done?

(23 Posts)
AGD Mon 29-Oct-12 22:05:30

I was out for dinner recently with three feisty, intelligent, confident, attractive, successful women in their early forties, two of whom want to get facial fillers before they're 50. It got me thinking about whether there are more women like them, in their prime, choosing facial 'work'. What do my fellow mumsnetters think? I posted a blog about it here: (also on Mumsnet Bloggers Network).

FunBagFreddie Tue 30-Oct-12 13:03:28

People have never slotted into nice neat stereotypes. I suppose it just shows that it's not just a certain 'type' of person that falls foul of the media obession with youth and beauty.

Disappointedbuyer Tue 30-Oct-12 14:27:58

I have a condition which could be treated with botox in one side of my face but I have decided not to go for it because I don't like the idea of being injected with that stuff. But every single woman who I have mentioned this to* thinks that I should go for the botox, even though it would not be for wrinkles. All they can see is that I can get free botox on the NHS and they don't understand why I don't want it.

*It is easier to mention the condition upfront than it is to have people think I am drunk or have awful table manners. That made it sound a bit like I run up to strangers and discuss medical stuff.

EldritchCleavage Tue 30-Oct-12 17:27:11

It is now so widespread that far more people than the cruel 'bimbo' stereotype is having it done. And the importance placed on women's looks is so great that I suspect many women who are very attractive find the rapid reduction in attention they get past their 30s surprisingly hard to take.

My best friend has had some work (one thing frankly admitted to me, one never mentioned, but I've noticed). She now wants to do more. I know her, I understand where it's coming from but I wish she didn't need/want it, if you see what I mean. It is a tangible expression of insecurity, to me.

I could see myself being much more tempted by the idea if I didn't have a daughter. Setting an example to her, and very firmly declining to 'compete' with her and other younger women, means I'm resolved not to do it. But the assumption we women should all fight against ageing and be increasingly and extremely interventionist about appearance is very entrenched-remember the grey hair thread on here?

catgirl1976 Wed 31-Oct-12 11:31:10

I might. I think I meet your 3 criteria

My sister has. She is intellegent, confident and sucessful

She is 34 I am 36. She's had botox, I am considering fillers of some sort but I don't want to end up looking like a freak and its a lot of money for the sake of vanity.

namechangeguy Wed 31-Oct-12 13:38:38

If successful, confident, professional people are choosing these treatments, then who else's business is it? Presumably they are successful, confident professionals because they are capable of rational thought and analysis. Do other people feel comfortable judging them?

FunBagFreddie Wed 31-Oct-12 13:43:06

Why the dumb bimbo stereotype when it comes to getting work done?

EldritchCleavage Wed 31-Oct-12 14:28:11

Is that directed at me? I'm not subscribing to the stereotype, just saying that it exists.

FunBagFreddie Wed 31-Oct-12 14:31:24

No, Eldritch, It wasn't directed at anyone.

I just don't like the presumption that cosmetic surgery and similar procedures are for shallow, insecure bimbos. People are more three-dimensional than that.

EldritchCleavage Wed 31-Oct-12 14:35:45

Oh, ok, thanks.

I suppose I wrote it because it is implicit in the OP that intelligent women should know better. But actually, the looks/anti-ageing pressure is enormous whatever kind of woman you are, and for many women in professional jobs (esp in the City) there is a particular insidious pressure. You have to be super good at your job and look like a model at all times. Quite sinister.

FunBagFreddie Wed 31-Oct-12 15:37:43

I agree Eldritch. I had a boob job when I was younger. To be honest I now wish I hadn't, and people who didn't know me then have been shocked when I've told them about my implants. Apparently I'm not the 'type'. I don't think insecurity and body hang-ups are indicative of a lack of intelligence or education. Not everyone is as confident as they seem either!

EldritchCleavage Wed 31-Oct-12 15:51:48

I've been quite taken aback at how strong and negative my reactions have been to my post Caesarean body changes. Quite a learning curve. It's all such a toxic mix of things-social status, desirabilty, identity-all bound up in one's appearance. One thing's for sure, though I'm still resolved not to opt for any surgical or near-surgical interventions, I'm a lot more understanding of those who do.

FunBagFreddie Wed 31-Oct-12 16:11:44

You can't predict or control these reactions though can you? It's really tough for nearly all of us I think.

I've gone the other way. I was more insecure in my 20's. Mind you, I'm a freelancer these days who works from home. It wouldn't matter if I was working in my PJ's, with unbrushed hair and teeth!

I still worry about looks though. I tell myself off for being so shallow and swallowing the whole beauty myth. It doesn't work though.

AGD Thu 01-Nov-12 16:10:16

Hi all. V interesting re stereotypes - it was at the dinner I mentioned that i suddenly realised my own unconscious stereotype that 'this' type of woman didn't do it which stopped me short and made me think - why did I think that, why is cosmetic work still a bit of a taboo but also to fess up to that stereotype and post about it to see just how wrong I might be! Like you, funbagfreddie, I succumb to beauty myth stuff and feel cross with myself about it. Particularly now I have a six year old daughter who watches me closely and is learning more from me than I could ever realise. I love and am scared s***less by the way kids hold the mirror up to me / our world quite often, and in equal measure! Eldritchcleavage - I agree w you re professional sector pressure. The dinner chat got me googling about it and the articles I read were eye opening. Thanks for commenting

crackcrackcrak Sun 04-Nov-12 11:53:00

I was c against surgery until I had dd1 by emcs and bf destroyed my boobs. Actually thru recovered a bit but I'm hugely concerned by the state of my stomach post dd2. I will be waiting 12 months post baby then I will be making a decision. It's my body and my money and I will be considering surgery in my boobs and tummy and it laser treatment for stretch marks.
I'm an intelligent, confident, successful and v academic person. I am applying for PhDs and plan to publish a paper before I'm 40. Academic recognition is v important to me - much more so than how I look. This is partly because I have dd's. being Dr Mummy is more valuable to them than sexy mummy. But.....I am an adult woman who isn't that old - I still want to look nice and feel attractive. I wouldn't rule out Botox and may well try it once I've finished bf.
I v much consider myself a feminist.

muddledmamma Sun 04-Nov-12 15:40:13

This is such an interesting one. When I was in my 20s I was very anti any type of cosmetic procedure, even though I got my hair coloured on a regular basis. I'm almost 40 and I look around and see botoxed females everywhere, even in my friend group, but no one talks about it. Why not? Are they afraid to admit to having a little help? Are they trying to convince us all they're naturally young looking? What for?

I wish we could all age naturally and not feel the pressure to do this stuff to ourselves. On the other hand, we only get one life and do we want to spend it wishing we looked better, or should we do what makes us feel good? The older I get the more I'm inclined to think each to their own. We're too far down the road of cosmetic enhancement to hold out any hope of turning back. I'm so glad I don't have daughters. How to bring them up believing that their image isn't as important as what's inside seems to me a very tough job.

TeiTetua Sun 04-Nov-12 18:38:22

I agree with that last paragraph but maybe it justifies the "muddled" name! Actually I don't think "We're too far down the road of cosmetic enhancement to hold out any hope of turning back". At least, no individual is, as long as that one hasn't resorted to surgery. We can all sit back and examine what we're doing, and ask ourselves what we really hope to accomplish, and whether (maybe) we'd actually feel better about ourselves if we say, "No, I'm just going to present myself as I naturally am."

As for what to say to a young girl, I think you can be open with her the pressures women are under, and indeed say that the best way to deal with that is "each to their own". But that ought to mean that we wouldn't criticise a woman who doesn't use lots of cosmetics, and it would be just like a young person to make that criticism (we hear a lot about teenagers pressuring each other to dress up and look sexy, let alone what they'd say about a middle-aged woman who doesn't try to pretend otherwise). I'd try to stay neutral about what really is "attractive". You can certainly create an appearance, but you can also just let it happen, and is the worked-over image really better?

muddledmamma Sun 04-Nov-12 21:54:47

Teitetua, I agree there's no other option but to be straight with girls. Helping them recognise that it IS an outside pressure to think so much about appearance. And lets not forget it's an industry. Billions of pounds/dollars being made by creating fear amongst our young people, creating problems. (seriously, labiaplasty???)

So yes, to each their own, but hopefully fully recognising what we're buying into and supporting.

SomersetONeil Sun 04-Nov-12 23:18:31

I dye my hair and had braces as a child to correct my thumb-sucking created bucked teeth, so I've always been wary of criticising others for taking steps to enhance their appearance.

I also recognise that human nature means one (generally speaking) wants to look their best - to attract a partner, to align oneself with one's peers and to (most importantly to me, especially at my stage of life in a long-term, settled relationship), to feel good about oneself. This applies to males and females.

Looking good is and always has been important to me. I wear make-up. I enhance my appearance. I like clothes and choose them with care. I'm tall and also wear high heels.

However... as a feminist and therefore as a being who goes around without my blinkers on; who sees the world and has no wish to deny all that is apparent in unequal terms between men and women... I fully recognise the social conditioning and pressure that has gone into my thought processes and that my 'preferences' have not been conjured up in a vacuum.

I don't think I would ever get Botox, since injecting botulimum toxin into my face seems like a very slightly contrived - potentially dangerous - thing to do. However, if there was something less extreme that did the same job I can't say that I definitely would not go for it by the time I hit my 40s or 50s.

My daughter is 2. She comes into the bathroom with me every morning when I'm getting ready and will sometimes ask, 'what are you doing mummy?' My response is always - 'I'm just conforming to patriarchal standards of beauty, darling', with a smile. She has absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. grin It will be years before she does. But I will keep saying it when she asks. And I will fully undestand and sympathise when the time comes for her to start feeling the need to conform to patriarchal standards of beauty. It afflicts the best of us.

I said on another thread running at the moment that it takes a really huge amount of guts to be 'the woman who does not conform'. Who eschews make-up and who never de-hairs. Who perhaps brushes their hair and their teeth but then otherwise goes out as God intended her. As men routinely do without a second thought nor backward glance. I was scoffed at by a male poster for the assertion - as I fully expected to be. But I maintain the stance 100%. It is very, very difficult to be that woman in this society.

In terms of my daughter, I will sympathise when (if?) she gets to an age to start conforming also, but I will encourage her to do it with her eyes wide open, to recognise the reasons why she does it, and to always, always question, and to do what feels right for her. I want her to challenge perceptions and mindsets - not to just role over and accept men and like this, and women are like that and it will be forever thus.

So yeah, I don't think having work done is the preserve of a certain type of women. I think we are all susceptible to it to a greater or lesser extent. I also think it will get worse before it ever gets better. But it's so lovely to have places like this where like-minded people view these decisions through a similar lens, and who question and challenge, and who recognise the societal pressure placed on us instead of rushing to deny them and stick their heads in the sand over it all.

namechangeguy Mon 05-Nov-12 09:42:30

In many cases, I believe women do the whole OTT makeup and clothes-horse thing to impress/intimidate other women, not for the benefit of men. There are all-girl schools and female-dominated workplaces that look and smell like a John Lewis beauty department. I have never fully got my head around why this is.

SomersetONeil Mon 05-Nov-12 18:54:03

A very simplified answer (which you won't like, nor in any way agree with, natch) is that we live in a patriarchal society where women's worth is so heavily reliant on looks and beauty. I can see you rolling your eyes from here. wink There's more pressure on women to look good than men, and more pressure on women to look good than be good at things.

If you take your blinkers off, you will see evidence of this everywhere you look.

It is really, really important for women to look good. From the age of babyhood and toddlerhood on, little girl's are told they look lovely / beautiful / etc, etc in a way little boys aren't.

Years and years of this sort of low/medium/high-level societal expectation is very, very hard to shake off.

But I wouldn't expect a man to be able to get his head around why that is. He doesn't live it, so why would he?

I await your vehement denial that this is the case...

digerd Mon 05-Nov-12 19:30:11

My sister who has been vain since she could talk, and has never in her ripe old age now , been outside of the house with out being fully made-up and hair immaculate, said this to me recently.

"Women who don't wear make-up are arrogant in thinking they don't need to".- referring to me !!!??

muddledmamma Mon 05-Nov-12 22:18:05

Brilliant! Don't get me wrong, if it had been said to me, I would have choked. With the benefit of distance, I can laugh. Did you get it together enough to respond?

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