Monday, 6 March 2017

Breaking the Taboo: Can You Be A Feminist And Love Fillers?

Society has always placed value on appearance but in this digital age of social media, blogging and vlogging, how one looks, especially how women look, has never been more commented upon.
I see hundreds of photographs of myself every week and since upgrading my camera last year, every one of my 43 years is there, written all over my face in glorious technicolour. I've mentioned when I've reviewed beauty products that I don't mind the fine lines around my eyes. The euphemistically-named laughter lines are a reflection of the happiness I feel; but I'm rather less enamoured with the other signs of ageing. The deeper nasolabial creases, the sagging jowels and the dreaded turkey neck, (I do wish there was a kinder description). My fringe does a fine job of concealing the fine lines on my forehead but what about the rest? Good skincare products, a healthy diet and plenty of sleep and water will improve the appearance, tone and texture of my skin, but I'm realistic enough to know that these signs of ageing can't be reversed without something more.

But would I take that next step and choose aesthetic enhancement? Do I want to erase the life that shows on my face? 

I don't think I do, (though I'd never say never), because here's the thing. I've never felt happier or more confident in my appearance than I do right now and this is undoubtedly because I'm very happy on the inside. I'm healthy, strong, fulfilled and loved and this is evident not only in my demeanour and my behaviour, but on my face. I feel happy, so I look happy. It hasn't gone unnoticed and is frequently commented upon by those that read my blog and by those that know me.  How one feels on the inside is definitely reflected on the outside and I'm not the only one that thinks so. I asked several friends for their thoughts on Botox and fillers. Just as I did in the opening paragraph when I pointed out the signs of ageing on my face, every single one of them also pointed out one or more age-related changes they perceive on their own faces. Interestingly and without exception, regardless of their thoughts on aesthetic procedures, every single one of them said it's about the way they feel. If they feel good, they look good and if they look good, they feel good. It seems that (perceived) beauty is so much more than skin deep. It's much more about feeling confident than it is about the quest for eternal youth and this leads me on to the question around which this blog post is based.

Can you really be a feminist and love fillers? Should it matter at all if women choose to embrace aesthetic enhancements as a way to feel more confident? 

I don't know the dictionary definition of feminism but for me it's about being myself and celebrating my femininity without external pressure, without apology and without justification. It's about freedom of choice. I choose to enhance my appearance with make-up, with highlights and with flattering clothing. I have no plans to take the aesthetic enhancement route, but to those that do, good on you. If it makes you feel better about yourself then what's wrong with that?  So my answer to the question is a resounding yes! In my opinion, of course a woman can be a feminist and love fillers. Women, (and men for that matter), should be free to choose any means they wish of feeling more confident about themselves.

Allergan, a global pharmaceutical company and maker of Botox and Juvederm facial fillers recently commissioned research and asked more than 1500 women to reveal their attitudes towards the quest for beauty and youth. 

- 88% of women agree you should be free to express your beauty any way you choose.
- 13% of women think you should strive to look youthful at all costs.
- 25% of women say they've had or would consider facial injectables and of those women, 38% say they have/would keep it a secret.
- 45% of women believe you can be a feminist and love fillers.

These issues and more were discussed at a recent event hosted by Cosmetic Executive and Allergan, where the panel participated in a fascinating discussion around the perception of ageing and the changing attitudes to aesthetic procedures. Some key comments included: 

"It's ok to have whatever you want done, it doesn't matter what people think of you, it's what you think of yourself. if you look nice and feel good, that's what's great."

"Lying about your treatment is the modern equivalent of lying about your age!"

"What I find profoundly uncomfortable is attacking a woman who decides to have treatment on the grounds that it is anti-feminist. Surely a definition of feminism includes feeling empowered to age the way you want to, without criticism or judgement,"

The last quote resonates very strongly with me. We as women should be empowered to age however we choose to and should respect each others' choices even if they differ to our own. My good blogging friend and fellow member of The Over 40 Collective, Nikki, Midlife Chic (in the middle of the photo below), agrees: "I'm with Meryl Streep and think you earn your face over the years, so I'm against aesthetic procedures for myself but not for others."

I believe we shouldn't pass judgement, rather, we should be support each other's choices. This underpins the ethos we share in The Over 40 Collective where we have no worries about laughter lines either!

The Over 40 Collective
The Over 40 CollectivePhotograph by Rachel V.
Aesthetic procedures are becoming ever more attainable and acceptable. There is a wealth of research and information available at our fingertips, so if you're interested in finding out more about Juvederm aesthetic treatments in general, you can discover your local reputable practitioner and clinic at https://locator.juvederm.co.uk/

Along with some other bloggers, I shall be taking part in a Thirty Plus Twitter chat on Thursday 9th March at 8pm when we will be discussing this topic further. If you wish to take part, and everyone is most welcome, head over to the Facebook page for more information. The Twitter handle is @WeAreThirtyPlus and we will be using the hashtags #30PlusDebate and #FeministAndFillers. I really hope you'll come along and join the debate.

Love Lizzy x

Disclosure: *I have been compensated by Allergan for writing this blog post and for participating in the upcoming Twitter chat on Thursday 9th March.

I'm linking up with:
Brilliant Blog Posts/The Saturday Share

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12 comments

  1. The issue to me is that no value is attached to older women. Women seek out fillers and other treatments to try to look younger. Every day we're bombarded with images of celebrities showing their lines/cellulite/grey hair, all in a very negative way. We have to somehow reclaim the right to be respected and admired as we age.
    Gail
    www.isthismutton.com

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    1. We really do need to be respected and admired as we age and it is never comfortable when reading or hearing about a woman (or man for that matter) being criticized for their appearance in any capacity or at any age.The ageing process affects each and every one of us and this is normal and should be treated as such rather than being condemned for allowing it to show. Let's hope that things will change and everyone can respect everyone else for who and what they are and how they behave rather than how they look as they get older. It's about respect of others and their feelings xxx

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    2. I find it heartbreakingly sad that British society is continually worried about never expressing their opinion about anything without fear of offending someone. Freedom of speech is a basic human right. Opinions are a basic human right. What do you mean by "being condemned"?. That you just dont agree with them and express that feeling? What is wrong with saying that you detest the idea of women injecting chemicals into their face? For feeling that they are not good enough? I think we should all learn to share our opinions and in that way we will understand each other more. We dont have to all agree to get on, our differences are what makes us original. I wish you would have the confidence to perhaps say what you really feel, without fear of disrespecting someone and not rest on the fence. That is when I know that we have moved forward.

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    3. Mrs Delstanche, thank you very much for your reply. I will clarify what I meant by "being condemned". In my reply to Gail above, I was agreeing with her that sadly, many, (whether in the public eye or not), are criticized for their appearance and are "condemned" for daring to show, as Gail said grey hair or cellulite or whatever else the press has decided to hone in on and deem as being a negative, particularly with respect to the ageing process which is the focus of this blog post. However, we do all have the right to free speech and can exercise that right as we see fit. To me though, direct and personal criticism of someone because of their appearance is less about that free speech by the commentator and more about being unkind. In my opinion, nobody should "be condemned" for the way they look. I agree of course that opinions are a basic human right and those opinions should be respected without caveat. If someone hates the idea of people injecting things into their face then they have a right to express that as vehemently as they wish and be respected for that opinion. I wouldn't have botox or fillers (and I don't feel strongly enough about it to hate the idea because I don't), but I would not and do not criticize those that do opt for cosmetic enhancement. I try not criticize anybody for their choices, their thoughts or their opinions and always try to listen to, consider and respect all opinions on all matters. I agree 100% with you that learning to share these and respecting our differences is what makes us human and actually, what makes life interesting and I'm delighted that this blog post, a debate, has allowed us all to do just that. Thank you again for taking the time to comment xxx

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  2. I have a problem with the argument that feminism means that every woman should be free to choose to do what they are comfortable with. 'No man (or woman) is an island' and we need to realise that EVERYTHING we do impacts on others & on society to a greater or lesser extent...

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    1. Oh gosh Helen, I absolutely agree. Every behavioural decision from feminists and non-feminists alike affects others and speaking personally, every single decision I make is taken only after my children and the potential impact on them has been has been considered, whether that be simple every day decisions or bigger ones which may have an impact longer term. We all should consider the impact of our actions, words and behaviour on others and be respectful of the world around us both physically (environmentally) and sociologically.
      In the context of this debate about the ageing process and whether one can still be considered a feminist if choosing aesthetic enhancements, then I do believe that women (and men of course too), should be free to choose whether or not they opt for that. I suppose it's about making that decision for oneself and not because of peer pressure, pressure from the media etc and being confident and confortable in that decision xxx

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  3. As the saying goes - Anything in moderation & that is my motto where these procedures are concerned. I really like the light touch of freshness you get from a small amount of Botox or filler & I firmly believe looking younger has a direct correlation with feeling younger. That's just me, sorry Meryl ;-)

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    1. It's so interesting isn't it, the link to how we look and how we feel.You look much younger than your years Michelle xxx

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  4. Hello ... I have Botox on one line that makes me look angry. I don't want to look angry. I'm 46 and I'm not an angry person. I also have acne scarring which I have had a course of 6 Derma roller on. I don't want scarring . I pay my own way , I work, own my own home etc etc and I'd say I very much a feminist in that I support woman doing great things . Woman supporting woman . Having botox takes non of that away. Surely personal choice is what we are all fighting for isn't it ... or maybe I'm missing the point. Either way I'll still support woman and I'll still have treatments if I deem them necessary.
    Tracey

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    1. I couldn't agree more Tracey. I feel exactly the same- women supporting women to make their own choices. And yes, how can Botox or fillers change any of that. It our choice and that in itself should be celebrated. You look a lot younger than 46 too!!! xxxx

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  5. Hello Elizabeth , I agree wholeheartedly with your views. However, I believe that, sadly, for a great number of women their self worth is highly affected by their appearance, in particular how youthful they look. I am 50 years old and at the age of 40 I made the decision to stop colouring my gray hair. At the age of 40 I had a full head of shoulder length gray hair and it bothered me that I was constantly lathering my scalp and hair in toxic chemicals. I have always valued health - I ate healthy home cooked meals, exercised, used chemical free skincare and personal care products and chemical free cleaning products. I believed that stopping colouring my hair would be a natural progression and easy to deal with. I could not have been more wrong. Before stopping colouring, I was 100% certain that my self worth was based strongly on my internal qualities and achievements, not my appearance. It bothered me that my fading youthful looks bothered me so much. I did not go back to colouring, but sat with my feelings and reflected why getting and looking older bothered me so much. Working through the discomfort led to acceptance. I do not worry about getting older and I have not gone back to colouring. Please don't misunderstand me, I take care of my health and body and like to dress nicely (my style is very similar to yours Elizabeth) but my fading youthful appearance does not bother me. I enjoy life and have a zest for life and people have often commented that I have a glow and serenity about me. Since going gray, I have had many young women (women that I know and strangers) approach me and ask many questions about my gray hair journey. The most common response that I have received from these young women is that they feel enormous pressure to maintain a youthful appearance and that it is refreshing to see and speak with someone who does not see getting older with your health intact as a curse and something to continuously battle. My prayer and hope for the young generation of men and women is that they can come to truly understand that what is on the inside (all of their wonderful and unique qualities) is of a greater value than what is on the outside.

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    1. Hi Sel, thank you very much for taking the time to comment and share your experience. It's fascinating isn't it how our outward appearance is so inextricably linked with how we feel, as I suggested in my opening paragraph. You're intelligent and articulate and know what qualities you should be valued on, yet, the choice you took to reveal your natural hair colour led to you questioning your own beliefs about the value you placed on your looks. I am so pleased you worked through it and became accepting of it and in doing so have inspired and reassured others along the way. I hope this has reaffirmed what you knew all along about yourself, which is that it is the inner qualities that lead to a feeling of (personal) self-worth. How wonderful too that people comment on your zest for life and the serenity you exude. That must give you a very warm feeling indeed. I tell my 15 year-old daughter and 13 year old-son that there is nothing wrong in taking good care of themselves, in personal pride and in wishing to look as good as possible, but it is all about being a good, tolerant, open-minded, loving, thoughtful and considerate individual. That is what they will be judged on by those that truly matter and I share your hope that our younger generation will learn to respect themselves and others and to celebrate the wonderful gift that is life and vitality. Thank you again for sharing Sel xxxx

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I love receiving your comments. Thank you for taking the time, Liz xxx

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