Botox is the two-syllable word that raises eyebrows more than any other. Literally. The word alone (not to mention the actual procedure) brings more judgment, raises more questions and is one of the most hush-hush words today. That is, assuming you're not part of the "Real Housewives" franchise.
My decision to get botox was met with mixed reactions – some of which were extreme. There was a huge disparity between what my boyfriend (and guys in general) was saying in comparison to my gal pals. The aforementioned were adamantly against it, while the ladies were handing me their doctor's business card in one hand (yay for referral discounts!) and high-fiving me with the other.
I'm 34 years old, and for the first time, I started to see lines on my face and actually look my age. You're probably thinking that's normal, and you're right, lines are normal. But that doesn't mean seeking Botox is a bad decision or makes me a fake, awful person void of any soul.
Full disclosure: I decided to get lip injections too. Not #ducklips, just minimal and natural. Before you peg me as incredibly vain (I'll put it all out there; I got a boob job after college and habitually dye my hair blonde, so let the online judgments begin.), I am one of the most real people you'll ever meet. What gets injected into someone's lips or face or added here or sucked out there doesn't define a person.
When I started my journey to “turn back the clock,” my boyfriend and I had a serious talk. I wanted his opinion (not to be mistaken with his permission). I already made my decision; I simply wanted his support.
His biggest concern, and rightly so, was that I would come home and wouldn't look the same. “When I look at you and kiss you, I want to see you and kiss you,” he said.
Like many, he only sees or hears about the botched jobs. Most men just see the exaggerated versions of plastic surgery, and don't understand the subtleties. He pictures John Travolta's painfully frozen and sculpted face in the FX series “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” He's reminded of women going overboard thanks to magazine covers donning former reality stars like Heidi Montag, who got 10 plastic surgeries in one day.
After our chat, I had to walk a fine line: making myself happy by smoothing out some of those unflattering lines and refreshing my appearance, while keeping my boyfriend wanting to look at me and actually touch me. Both were important, so it left me weary.
Given this fine line (pun intended) and the fact these procedures aren't cheap, I knew I had to find the best doctor. I came across Dr. Haresh Yalamanchili, a highly regarded physician in the Houston area with double board certification, and one of the few cosmetic surgeon specialists focusing only on the face and neck.
It was similar to when I had shoulder surgery; I didn't want a doctor who operated on ankles, knees, backs and shoulders. I wanted an expert on shoulders.
While I can't speak for others who elect for such procedures, I can speak about my decision. As for Botox, it is a preventive measure to help slow down the aging process, and let's be honest: Who doesn't want to slow it down?
Not to mention, every woman I knew was already getting Botox, so I was constantly being surrounded by women who were looking much younger than I. And if they weren't getting Botox yet, they were averaging seven filters per photo on social media. What was so wrong with me wanting to get rid of a few unwanted lines?
The thing most men don't realize is that many women are already getting these procedures, they just don't admit it, nor is it obvious because they choose doctors who make it look natural. Not all plastic surgery will land you on the Real Housewives promo reel.
When it comes to my lips (which got an 80 percent “hell no” to a Twitter poll I conducted), I don't take things like sticking needles in my face lightly. Since I was a baby, my lips have literally remained the same non-existent size, and if someone was able to enhance them for me, then why not?
Dr. Yalamanchili explained that given the shape and size of my lips, he couldn't make them bigger. What he could do was put fillers in the corners of my mouth to alleviate my RBF (Resting Bitch Face), which would make my lips look fuller. My lips naturally curved into my mouth, and he was able to work his magic to show more pink (surface area) of my lips. He simply did a few needle pricks to make the appearance look fuller, not actually adding volume.
Here are some Twitter responses I got after asking, “When a woman in her 30s says 'I'm getting botox,' what are your thoughts?”
“30s? They're like eight years behind.”
“First that she's too young and second that she's old enough to do whatever she wants.”
“Please don't! No reason to go down that road period, let alone in 30s.”
“High maintenance, shallow, depressed.”
“I've been getting botox since I was 22! I love it! If you're thinking about doing it…DO IT!” –DM
“I do it and love it but didn't want to respond to your tweet because I don't want my dad to find out.” – text
Based on these responses and conversations with my boyfriend, I had major anxiety heading in to my appointment. I was getting absolutely no support and what if it turned out bad? I would literally be stuck with an ugly “I told you so” emoji as a face to remind us both of my bad decision.
I made it awkwardly clear that I wanted the most minimal and natural look possible. Everyone's negative and unsupportive feedback had me questioning a decision I was already comfortable with.
It's 2016; the NFL is being played in other countries, women are running for office, cars are driving themselves and I am getting Botox.
I think one thing that made the decision even harder was the amount of women who have these procedures, but take that to the grave with them. Dr. Yalamanchili joked about being in social settings where guy friends would tell him not to strike up conversations with their wives, for fear they'll want Botox or other facial surgeries. “They have no idea I have been treating their wives for years,” he laughed. Yalamanchili estimates 70 percent of his patients don't want their significant others to know.
And by the way, there is such thing as a “Botox fund,” where women pay cash or come up with “creative payment options” for fear of leaving a paper trail. That's how secretive and hush-hush some are when it comes to this.
Dr. Yalamanchili suspects many men are against these procedures because they don't have a baseline. “They just see the exaggerated versions of plastic surgery,” he says, noting that's not the kind of work he does. He's turned away patients who come in requesting “Kylie Jenner lips,” not because there's anything wrong with that, but simply he has a much more natural style.
I'm not naïve to say there aren't women out there who get some sort of work done -- even as minor as Botox -- and take it too far or become obsessed. The options for procedures are about as limitless as the number of reality shows on TV.
I recently saw a segment about women in Houston getting “calf reduction liposuction surgery,” just in time for rodeo season so they could fit into their skinny jeans and cowboy boots better. To me, that's too far, but to others that may be the procedure that makes them happy. Who are we to judge?
Results: Everything looks so natural, and no one has been able to tell (well, until this article). Most importantly, I am happy. It's really not as big of a deal as people make it out to be; we simply minimized some of the lines on my face I wasn't happy with and made my lips look fuller.
I am happy and feel more confident, and my boyfriend still sees the same woman who sat on the couch weeks before first talking about this.