It’s not a new story – the search for the elusive fountain of youth, but with medical science offering the opportunity to live longer, there’s now an even bigger push to look younger. There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to look your very best and in fact people should be encouraged to enhance their natural beauty as much as possible. But there’s a disconnect between reality and fantasy these days – even though almost everyone is aware of the power of Photoshop and photographic techniques that make celebrities and models look far more beautiful, trim, sleek and younger than they actually are, people still aspire to look like the media version of their favourite movie star or underwear model.
At the same time, how often have you cringed in vicarious embarrassment because of the aging man whose fake tan shines a little too orange through the sparse tufts of transplanted hair, or the granny whose augmented breasts seem to have a life of their own when seen in concert with her sagging knees and wrinkled neck? It just doesn’t fit. Beauty can be faked, but vitality can’t – the inner energy that arises from being true to yourself surely has so much more authentic attractiveness than a medically enhanced feature.
did you know?
In the 1960s, Psychologist Paul Ekman identified 3000 facial expressions, cataloguing the ‘essential repertoire of human emotion’ – identifying 43 separate action units (contraction or relaxation of one or more muscle) which described every distinct combination of muscular movements the face could make. Later, the Facial Action Coding System was developed and is still used today by animators, psychologists and interviewers, who can spot insincere smiles, which may be a cue for lying.
did you know?
According to The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, non-invasive procedures have topped surgical procedures. The top five are: toxins or neuromodulators injections (Botox) (32.7%), hyaluronic acid injections (20.1%), laser hair removal (13.1%), autologous fat injections (taking a patient's fat from one location and transferring it in the same patient to another location) (5.9%) and IP Laser treatment (4.4%)
National Geographic magazine is famous for publishing photographs of indigenous people worldwide whose faces elaborately reflect the lives they’ve lead. The famous Afghan girl with the piercing eyes is an iconic photograph, and her beauty is all natural, without enhancement. But it’s the people whose faces are lined – offering an intimate portrait of every moment of laughter, sadness, joy and anguish they’ve experienced – that tell a story impossible to communicate in a few lines of text.
Brandi Carlile says it all with her lyrics: “All of these lines across my face, tell you the story of who I am, so many stories of where I've been, and how I got to where I am ... “
BOTOX COMPROMISES FACIAL FEEDBACK
Psychologists explain that facial feedback gives much more information about a person’s feeling that we ever imagine. What the face and eyes are expressing is a primary way to fully engage with what is being communicated. No matter how much of a poker face you have, your facial muscles still twitch and move intricately to express your inner thoughts and feelings. If your face is completely unlined, and immovable, this essential insight into your own soul becomes unavailable.
This extends to our ability to feel empathy as well – it blunts our ability to relate to other’s facial expressions and in turn damages our capacity to fully relate to and engage with people – negatively affecting social interactions and creating an inability to form supportive, healthy relationships. The knock-on effect of this could be social isolation, possibly leading to depression, hopelessness and emotional distress.
Getting older inevitably comes with less skin elasticity and the subsequent wrinkles from the repeated muscle movement of your normal facial expressions. Environmental toxins, processed food, bad lifestyle choices and excesses (like too much sun exposure, being over-stressed or drinking more than you should) all also contribute to the formation of wrinkles. But just as the faded scar on your knee reminds you of the epic bicycle race you won when you were 10, each line on your face preciously reflects your journey in this life. But that’s not to say doing what you can to soften those lines or reduce their effect on your self-image is completely out.
The concept of growing older gracefully lends itself to learning self respect; loving yourself enough to treat your body, inside and out, with the care and attention it deserves. Look after yourself well by making the right choices when it comes to diet, exercise and lifestyle habits. And if you feel the need for a little scientific help, ensure you’re doing it for the right reason – to enhance your own mental and psychical wellbeing – not because you’re aspiring to a fantasy that won’t reflect the true beauty of your uniquely designed and life-filled self.