The New York Times reported on the newly emerging phenomenon of young women seeking preventative measures for the inevitable impact of the aging process in 2005.
“Did you hear about the 19-year-old girl who had botox injections to stop the crinkling around the eyes when she smiled? Or the 26-year-old beauty editor with a porcelain complexion who went for laser treatments to prevent sagging skin and sun spots from appearing in the future? Or the woman in her 20′s who, alarmed at the incipient folds forming at the sides of her mouth, made the rounds of top Manhattan plastic surgeons until she found someone willing to give her a face-lift?
Welcome to the Freeze-Face generation. Its members may grow up, but they won’t grow old. These cryonic enthusiasts aim to put themselves on ice while they are still smooth, not when they are as creased as Walt Disney. Many of these cryon babies have boomer moms who sunned and smoked with abandon, who, if they thought at all about living past 30, imagined themselves looking gorgeously weather-beaten like Georgia O’Keeffe. For their daughters’ obsession, you can credit or blame those same boomer moms who ran screaming to the plastic surgeon when their faces turned out more Keith Richards than O’Keeffe.
You can also credit, or blame, the face doctors who lure women in with an ever-changing menu of sexy rejuvenating treatments. But whatever the reason, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, last year people from ages 19 to 34 had 427,368 botox procedures; 100,793 laser resurfacing treatments; 128,779 injections of hyaluronic acid (Restylane or Hylaform); 29,160 eyelid surgeries; and 1,094 face-lifts.”
“On the eve of my 29th birthday, I got Botox. Let’s just call it a present to myself ($250 is a lot cheaper than the latest Louboutins anyway), a sanity-saving panacea for the panic of seeing a new decade so close on the horizon. Wanting to stop time, I found myself on a recent morning sitting on the edge of a paper-covered examination chair (the business-class version of what you’d find at the dentist’s office), with dermatologist Dr. Francesca Fusco scrutinizing my forehead while she asked me questions about my job and family and told jokes to make me laugh – all so she could watch how my face naturally moved. Then, four quick pricks later, I was done…
“If you ask a 13-year-old when people get old, they’ll say 30,” says Pennsylvania psychologist and dermatologist Dr. Richard Fried. “We’re bombarded with unbelievably unattainable images of airbrushed models and celebrities, so we all look into a circus fun-house mirror whenever we see ourselves. The human tendency is to accentuate the negative and minimize the positive. We’ve been sold a very destructive philosophy that somehow when you’re past 30, you start deteriorating. Any thrill, passion, or excitement has fizzled, and you’re just biding time until you croak. Doing something as simple as Botox can be enormously liberating and help fight the negative messages.”
It’s no surprise I’m not alone in my quest for eternal youth. In 2007 almost 400,000 Botox procedures were done on patients ages 19 to 34, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Chapas estimates that 15 percent of her Botox patients are in their mid- to-late 20s. And Liz alone has convinced at least four other 20-somethings (not counting me) to submit to the needle.”
The author clearly acknowledges the impact of our cultural environment that designates 30 as “old” and cherishes youth at all costs. So much so that younger and younger women decide to inject, pluck, pull and go under the knife earlier and earlier to avoid aging all together.
This trend of targeting younger and younger women and “educating” and training them to abide by the unrealistic and increasingly difficult measures outlined by the beauty ideal is evident in the trend of “virgin” waxing and other professional beauty services for prepubescent girls.
“1. An eight-year-old receives a bikini wax.
2. A ten-year-old gets microdermabrasion.
3. Numerous children under ten get highlights.
Funny you should ask! This is not dystopian work of satirical science fiction. (Though there is a stylist who finds himself in a sort of Guy Montag type of role when a woman asks him to relax her 12-year-old’s “beautiful, wavy hair.”) (He now “hawks an all-natural product to moms who want to lighten their five-year-olds’ locks; applied daily, it brings out subtle highlights.”) No, this is a story in Philadelphia magazine, a place I used to work in a city I used to live, a city that always seemed disarmingly normal and unmaterialistic relative to my current place of business. So reading it was kind of personal for me, especially since I know its writer, Carrie Denny, and I have to say, it was weird reading sentiments of such earnest dismay as “Without the ugly years, when do you learn to accept yourself?” coming from her.”
To read more on “Pretty Babies,” click here.
Simply scan the internet and you will come across advertisements that provide services for pre-teens. Browse the themes for children’s birthday parties and you will come across numerous sites offering make-over and fashion parties.
Don’t get me wrong, I painted my nails and put on make-up as a young girl but the final product was much less serious. I remember peeling the polish off the skin surrounding my nail bed. It was role playing in good fun. The stakes have dramatically increased and should not be taken lightly.
In the end, the only ones benefiting are the purveyors cashing in on the insecurities of younger and younger women.