Botox and me!
I use Botox and I'm a feminist.
The first part of that statement is just a fact, the second part contains an f-word I'm proud to use. I've come clean because I'm sick of women beating each other up over what they decide to do with their faces.
I have made a choice to have the occasional jab, to smooth out some frown lines and look a little less world-weary. It's a decision I have made because I want to do it. It's not because I feel pressured by women's magazines, or by my profession as tv presenter, or the patriarchy.
Yes, I'm vain. I fess up. Yes some of you think it's a waste of money and dumb, just like my husband does. I didn't tell him for a while, but the receipt from the dermatologist was my undoing. He got to the mailbox first that day.
I know some of my girlfriends are appalled by my confession. Others also dabble but don't tell, while another trained as a medical specialist and now works in a Botox clinic. She got very good by practising on her mother!
I choose to do it because it makes me feel better. And isn't feminism about supporting the different choices that women make, even if they don't fit in with your world view? I'm not advocating Botox, I'm simply being honest about it. And honesty is a quality that's important to me- too often women aren't honest enough with each other.
Some people think I'm too frank. I've spoken about having IVF and post natal depression, not to mention a humiliating public sacking from a job that I loved (hosting Today circa 2006). So in the scheme of things, saying I use Botox is really not a big deal. I think it's a discussion worth having, and this is my take on it.
I'm 46 years old (soon to be 47) and I have my good and bad days. Like all of us. If you see me in my professional life as a co-host on Studio 10 I look okay because I've had a superstar hair-and-make-up artist covering up my bags and blemishes and sticking on false eyelashes (which I try to keep on for school pick-up each afternoon.
I haven't had the jabs because I feel pressured to get them for work. I've simply had them because they make me look less tired, ready to take on the world. And if you've seen me in my daily life, grappling with meltdowns in the chemist as my youngest daughter calls me the worst mummy in the world because she can't have the sparkly purple Hello Kitty sunglasses, I feel slightly better that I'm not frowning as much as I could. I also feel better that I'm not looking furiously at the mother boasting about her child prodigy just adoring school, while I know my daughter has struggled with walking through the school gates.
We know that it's what's on the inside that matters most, but I also know that I feel stronger and tougher if I look good on the outside, too.
The Botox chat is worth getting into as many women feel under enough pressure to look a particular way without having some glossy, impossibly glamourous starlet tell them that the secret is using sunblock, having plenty of sleep, practising yoga and drinking 10 litres of activated coconut water a day.
No, that is not the secret. If you're honest, the secret to your complexion is having a dermatologist on tap 24 hours a day, Botox, Restylane, Fraxel, a personal chef, a dietician, a personal trainer, a manager, a housekeeper, a chauffeur and oodles of cash. (However it was refreshing to hear Charlize Theron cheekily credit her fresh face, despite having a new baby at the time, to "tons of Botox. And vodka".) Who are we kidding if we pretend we just wake up looking like this? Not only do we do ourselves a disservice, we let down the sisterhood.
Let me repeat, I'm not advocating Botox- I'm simply being honest about the fact that I visit the dermatologist a couple of times a year to get a little freshen-up. He is a cautious, conservative doctor, which is good- I don't want to look like my favourite women on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I just want to look like I'm getting enough sleep. And in my real life I never get enough sleep. Does anyone?
And I don't believe I'm erasing the experiences from my face. Oh, they are still there- my heartaches, my joys and my dark times. Just look at me, talk to me... gloriously sad, bad and made times are etched into my make-up. I carry those experiences in my heart and in the way I live my life.
I know some of you may think, "Oh she's shallow. How absurd to talk about cosmetic surgery." I know some of my girlfriends think it's ridiculous. It probably is- but it's a choice I have made. My brand of feminism is about choice and supporting women and respecting the decisions they make for themselves, decisions that may not be the ones you would make. So you may not like what I do but at least you know I'll be honest with you. Besides, I can't stand coconut water.
First published in Sunday Life magazine.