Let’s put this pseudo-clickbait title to rest quickly. The thing about how you look is that you look fine. You look great. You are exactly as you’re meant to be right now, and I say that knowing that you may look different tomorrow, that some of you have had a bit of filler in your lips, a bit of botox in your forehead, put some highlights in your hair, an application or two of whitening toothpaste, a hair pluck or fifty, a full-on boob job…or absolutely nothing at all. Fact: there’s too much pressure from other people telling you what to do with your own damn self—whether that means preserving your bushy armpit hair, wearing matching shoes, or obliterating that wrinkle that makes you feel like you’re always frowning even when you’re just bursting with joy.
It’s true, in the County we’re a little lower maintenance. Sometimes we leave the house with paint in our hair and good clean garden dirt under our fingernails. Some days we don sunglasses and hats to disguise the fact that we just didn’t want to put on a face that day or tame our crazy lake-hair. And other times, we just plain own it. We know that the County community gets our naked, uncultivated state.
And while this is part of our experience, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have conflicting feelings when we look in the mirror. I’ve always believed that if a person wants to make a change to their physical appearance to feel good about themselves, it should be an act of joy, not shame and should be celebrated in the spirit of growth and personal evolution, without stigma or judgement.
On that note, I have a confession: I’m a fan of Botox. I don’t get carried away, but I do have one jerk wrinkle that drives me to distraction and it’s been hanging out on my face since my mid-20s.
I lived with it for nearly a decade before quietly running to my good friend, a GP and medical aesthetics practitioner in Toronto, for a possible intervention. We chatted about options, discussed risks and outcomes, and then went ahead and injected a few units of the botulinum toxin in a strategic path across my forehead. For me there was no discomfort during or after, just a weird moment where I thought I could hear the injection inside my mind, which thrilled me in a dorky, science-y kind of way. I was advised to keep my head upright and not rub the area, but to waggle my eyebrows up and down repeatedly for an hour or so to distribute the botox naturally into the frown line. I pulled the brim of my hat low to keep my dancing eyebrows under wraps, and I was off.
About three or so days later I couldn’t believe my own face. I mean, I looked basically the same except that my forehead was clear and smooth, and because it was clear and smooth, I suddenly wasn’t narrowing my eyes or avoiding smiling to minimize that blasted wrinkle. The strangest part of the whole thing was all the people who had advised against botox (“You don’t need it”) vs. the same people (not knowing I’d gone ahead anyway) commenting on how “well-rested/glowing/happy” I looked. The thing was, it really didn’t matter whether they thought I looked good or how they felt about my decision for aesthetic intervention—what mattered was that none of those positions were remotely my concern: I was doing this for me.
Even so, I didn’t expect to feel so different—not unlike myself, just more like myself than I had felt in a really long time. I rode the Botox train several more times over the following two years, repeating the joy-inspiring results, then stepped off during pregnancy and breastfeeding, followed by the ultimate move to Prince Edward County.
Country life is happy and blissful, but despite this, a half-decade later that wrinkle was back. Sure, I was little older, perhaps wiser too, definitely more confident, and with much less time to dwell on my reflection—but you’d better believe, I definitely still noticed. I was happier than I’d ever been and I wanted my face to mirror my heart—it was time to get back to business.
If you haven’t met Annie and Emma Woodman yet, you have got to make it happen. This super cool, super fun, super amazing sister-team is the force behind Bloomfield Beauty Co., easily the best spot for beauty and medical services in PEC, situated in a stunning location in the heart of one of its prettiest towns. Walking distance from loads of boutiques and eateries (including the magical little Pochette, offering sweet and savoury pockets just next door), the spa provides a menu of all the things that make ladies and dudes feel good about themselves—from mani-pedis to injectables and fillers to lattes, bubbles and rosé at their café-bar.
A background in business serves Emma well as the General Manager of the Co., it’s her glowing loveliness that you often see as you walk through the front doors. Annie is a former nurse practitioner with the PEC Family Health Team and an experienced and much-loved medical aesthetician.
I met Annie the first time I dropped by the spa for a much-needed decompression mani-pedi session with some of the girls and we sort of just fell in love. We totally got each other and it wasn’t long before I asked her to be my wrinkle whisperer. It was a match made in County heaven.
I asked her to be my wrinkle whisperer. It was a match made in County heaven.
Annie wields the needles, so I wanted to talk to her about why there’s so much negativity about this sort of thing. “I believe that at the core of the stigma surrounding cosmetic injectables is the belief that people who change their appearance don’t love themselves enough.”
“Is it ever true?” I wondered aloud, asking Annie how it feels to work in an environment where your clients’ decisions to get aesthetic intervention are constantly questioned. “We host a lot of groups of women at the spa,” she said “who mostly come for manicures and pedicures together. Every once in a while, one of the women in a group will point out that we are a medical spa and casually mention to her friends that she’s been thinking about getting botox or dermal fillers. Sometimes her friends are open to the conversation and they’ll ask me to sit with them and have an informal group consult. But more regularly, they immediately shut their friend down. ‘Why would you do that?’ ‘You don’t need that!’ ‘My husband would freak out if I changed anything on my face—won’t yours?’ I know that they generally mean well and are trying to convey their love for their friend as she is, but after hundreds of conversations on this topic with women behind closed doors, I’ve learned how these comments can be misconstrued” She continues, “When I started administering cosmetic injectables, I knew immediately that I loved everything about it. I loved making my patients feel comfortable in their own skin. I loved how their faces lit up when they saw themselves in the mirror after our appointment together. I loved their newfound confidence. I still love it now, four years later—more than ever. And, though it’s slowly dissipating over time, the only thing I don’t love about this job is the absolutely ridiculous stigma attached to cosmetic injectables.”
It’s likely that this stigma stems from the radical examples we’ve seen—from the plastic surgery disasters lineup who make regular and shocking appearances in top ten lists, to the highly disconcerting examples of pretty regular looking celebrities who suddenly looked like totally different regular looking celebrities. People like Cher, Renee Zellweger, and Heidi Montag from The Hills. We don’t want the people we love to suddenly look like someone else and that makes sense.
As with everything, there’s a sweet spot somewhere in between getting a new face and sprucing ourselves up. Annie offers an example. “When my sister was 28, she was at a regular appointment with her dentist when she was asked if she had ever considered filling the gap between her front teeth. She had begged our parents for braces as a teenager, but her teeth were otherwise perfectly straight and her requests were always turned down. As the dentist created a makeshift fill and turned the mirror towards her, she was floored—it was an immediate yes. The change was modest and simple, and yet it was enough to make her feel confident enough to truly smile. She’ll tell you it was one of the best decisions she made for herself. She’ll also tell you it was then that she realized how silly it was to judge other people for wanting to change their appearance.”
It doesn’t have to be so cut and dry though, she adds, “for people who hat
Well that’s my story and my backstory and the rest is someone else’s—yours maybe? Either way, you should know that it’s cool. As with so many of the world’s big and small issues, being open with each other, talking about it, discussing the thing about our faces that a whole lot of us actually think and then getting real about what we want to do about it because it will make us feel more confident and more like the real us. Let’s end all forms of sneaking out the back door of the spa, while giving the low hand wave to Annie’s next lovely client.
As usual, Annie sums it up perfectly. “Beauty is a social construct, and every culture has different beauty ideals that people strive towards. These ideals aren’t actually subjective—they are rooted in mathematical equations, and the best in the beauty industry understand these fundamentals. There are hundreds of ways people alter their appearances everyday. On one end of the spectrum, there are non-invasive things we do like apply make-up or shave our unwanted body hair. On the other end, we have some pretty intensive procedures such as facelifts or liposuction. Almost every human participates somewhere along that spectrum, and every person draws their own line in the sand based on what they are willing to participate in. As you age, that line might shift back and forth, but judging where someone else draws their line is unfair—it’s not your body, and so, it’s not your decision to make.”