I get botox.

 

Cue the anticipated horrifying gasp.

 

I bet at least one of you considered not reading this post after that first line and that’s okay but if you just hang in there and try to keep an open mind, I promise at the very least you’ll get a good laugh.

 

I’ll even entice you to stay with me, vibrator in a doctor’s office. (Yah, you don’t want to miss that part).

 

The ugly truth, it’s more common than you think. It used to be associated with older generations and their attempts to re-gain their youth but that’s no longer the case, not even close. In fact I’d say cosmetic “enhancements” have become somewhat of an epidemic in younger people with the ever-growing urge to attain society’s beauty ideal.

 

Now, let me pre-face this post by saying that I am in no way against cosmetic enhancement nor am I encouraging people to alter who they are on the outside. If you want bigger boobs, go for it. If your skin crawls at the idea of having collagen in your lips, don’t get it. You are beautiful regardless of what opinion you have on the matter. Neither opinion is greater than.

 

I read somewhere that “you are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously”. It is my opinion that this extends to not only our outer beauty (as society would have us believe) but our inner beauty as well.

 

Our personalities are fluid, as almost everything else in life is. We are constantly evolving and adapting in an effort to shape ourselves into remarkably individual beings. However, that isn’t the message we receive from our society daily. Instead we hear that we should be ourselves, but not too much so that we risk offending the masses.

 

I would like to not so eloquently contribute that I think that is absolute horseshit.

 

I beg of you, offend someone. Have an opinion. Change your mind. Admit when you’re wrong. Scream off the side of a mountain because “HELL YAH” you were right.

 

Just do so with the knowledge that someone who is utterly and completely unlike you, holds the very same right to do all of those things without apology.

 

We are all fighting with our mirrors and wrestling with our intentions, thus there is a good chance that your constantly changing personality is going to clash with someone else’s down the road, probably frequently.

 

The next time you find yourself wanting to pull out your hair remember that at some point you had an opinion that changed or an understanding of a particular subject that was vastly underdeveloped. Two people are allowed to be different and yet remarkably beautiful all the same. I find myself always needing reminding that while “flowers are pretty, so are Christmas lights and they look nothing alike.”

 

I believe we choose the groundwork for our belief system on a trial and error basis. Our belief system is not fixed, just as our personality isn’t and there is always vacancy for new opinions, provided we are willing to give them access to our minds hotel.

 

Anyways, back to where this rambling began. Not even two years ago I was the girl who cringed at the idea of cosmetic enhancement. I would have been the person who quit reading this post after I heard the word, botox. (See, I told you, just hang in there, we’re not so different). I used to pass judgement on the women who got it and more than once used them as the butt of an otherwise cruel joke. This of course was a product of my insecurities crying out in the form of petty female gossip but the point was, I didn’t understand it.

 

A common theme among women is that we are required to compete amongst each other. This theme, albeit a poor one, seems to be ever more prevalent when women do not understand each other and so our insecurities lash out. A good example of this, high school… Yah, no one wants to go back there.

 

It was at this time in my life that I met Monika.

 

Spring of last year, I had been renting a first floor condo in Steveston, British Columbia for a year. I moved there when my marriage ended and for the first time in my life I was alone. I was in the business of saying yes to almost any experience or opportunity that came my way.

 

Like, online dating, (shivers, sobs and reaches for the ice cream pint) but we’ll talk about that some other time.

 

I met Monika walking my dogs on the green belt just outside our building and as women often do, we got to talking. I quickly learned that Monika lived on the top floor with her fiancé and she was a receptionist at Carruthers and Humphrey, a posh cosmetic dermatology clinic in Vancouver.

 

Monika was gorgeous! Her flawless skin, petite figure and outgoing personality made women either instantly dislike her, or want to know more about her. I, of course, with my pigeon holed perspective at the time, dismissively asked what work she’d had done.

 

I expected her to be off put by the question but instead she excitedly rattled off the procedures, pausing every now and again to show me a frown line (or lack there of) and a perfect chin, among other things. In some awestruck, out of body moment I found myself telling her that I had always been extremely uncomfortable with the wrinkles on my forehead. I proceeded to show her the way the three wrinkles would appear as I raised my eyebrows in mock surprise.

 

Then, as though the fear of my imperfections couldn’t help but jump from my mouth at her in hopes that maybe should could “fix” them, I told her about my newest obessesion.

 

Lips.

 

Like any female submerged in the Jenner/Kardashian era, I had grown to feel like my lips were inadequate. How would I compete in this new dating world if I didn’t have the perfect pout?

 

If I wasn’t spending endless time editing my wrinkles out of pictures, I was perfecting the perfect way to pout so my lips would look fuller. As the days of doing this, coupled with the insecurities from my marriage, I began avoiding photo’s all together. Which, as I began to do more book signings with my newfound career as an author, was next to impossible.

 

I was in agony all the time. So much so that I’d genuinely convinced myself my smile made me look fat and ugly. Which is ridiculous and yet, if you follow me on social media, you’ll see I still rarely ever post a photo where I am smiling.

 

My soul and heart needed help with my body, stat.

 

I went back to my condo that afternoon with a free consultation at Carruthers and Humphrey the following week.

 

I was a wreck with nerves and running on an excited high, so the days in between passed quickly. When I pushed through the glass doors into the reception area, my heart was practically vibrating in my chest. The beautiful women behind the desk took my information and without any delay, I was ushered into a room with the most beautiful view of downtown Vancouver and a voucher for free parking.

 

I fired off a nervous text to my best friend and fidgeted with the large black recliner in the center of the room. How badly would this hurt? Could I afford this?

 

My anxiety was climbing the stark white walls but my excitement was pulling it back down. I was going to do this!

 

I raised the footrest a half a dozen times, took a picture of the view and examined the scuffs on my shoes before a gorgeous nurse (less blue scrubs, more heels and pencil skirt) came to get me. She took me to another room where I wore a blue hair net (being pretty isn’t always pretty, right?) and took a set of photos with my chin resting on a steel pole. Those won’t be going on Instagram I thought as she deposited me back in my room with a view.

 

I babbled on about my nerves when she returned to go over my medial history and she promised to hold my hand during the procedure. Bless her heart, because I was about as nervous as a whore in church.

 

Then, it was go time. My doctor, an ultra chic modern mother and wife, came into the room. She too, was kind and lovely. Her name was Katie.

 

Katie reviewed the nurse’s notes and proceeded to give me a small hand held mirror to look into. She pointed to the areas where she’d put the “baby botox” (a very small amount due to my young age) and asked what look I was aiming for with my lips.

 

I quickly rushed to say I wasn’t looking for Kylie Jenner lips to which she laughed and promised me they didn’t do “that” kind of work there. It would be a much more subtle enhancement. Less is more was the way they preferred to approach a first timer like me.

 

They were handling me with kid gloves, and I was grateful.

 

“Do you like these?” She pointed at my freckles. “We can get rid of these for you.”

 

I looked in the mirror, tilting my head side to side and running a finger over the freckles than ran across my cheeks.

 

Why would I want to do that? They were so cute, especially when the weather started getting better and the sun made them more prominent.

 

“No.” I shook my head confidently. “I like my freckles.”

 

It might have seemed small at the time, that question or my answer to it, but to this day I find myself constantly retelling this story. At a time where I felt so desperate to change my appearance to become more “beautiful”, I had love for this part of me that was so uniquely me. No one had freckles exactly like I did, that looked the way mine did and I acknowledged the beauty in the individuality of that. Even if maybe I didn’t realize it at the time.

 

Then, she handed me a vibrator.

 

A big, (key word, big) blue magic wand and if you don’t know exactly the one I’m talking about, honey, you’ve been missing out.

 

I quit looking adoringly at my freckles in the mirror and gaped at her.

 

“Just put it under your chin.” She said, positioning it under her own to demonstrate. “Then use the button on the side to turn the speed up or down. Whatever feels best for you.”

 

My eyes were wide as saucers. The romance writer in me wanted to burst out laughing and tell her I knew exactly what the buttons on the side did, but instead, I just stared at her. “You want ME to put THAT on my chin?” The numbing gel they’d put on my lips made me sound comical and my eyes travelled down the length of the powerful vibrator. “It’s a…”

 

She laughed. “I know. It’s a little weird.” Okay, so she did know what it was. “The vibrations help to distract from the pain. The higher you turn it up, the more it helps.”

 

Well, at least I’m familiar with that.

 

Hesitantly I took it from her, just as the nurse slid her hand into mine.

 

“Here we go.” Katie smiled.

 

I’ve never been so grateful for a vibrator in my life, and I’m saying that as a woman who has been single for over two years. That magic wand on full throttle because lip injections hurt like something that rhymes with witch and then some. No exaggeration. It ain’t breezy bein’ pouty.

 

Botox felt like running through a field of daisies compared to that. Okay, maybe not exactly, but it sure as heck didn’t require me to vibrate my face off.

 

She advised that the botox would take anywhere from five to seven days before it would become noticeable, and the swelling in my lips would go down after two to three days. Then I held a bag of frozen peas to my face for five minutes before my credit card was charged and I was out the door.

 

I would be lying if I said I didn’t spend an obscene amount of time looking in the rear-view mirror on my way home. My lips were so pouty and at first, I loved them.

 

After receiving lip injections, you’re lips are swollen and incredibly sensitive for the few days following the procedure. The filler is still setting, so any harsh pressure, like pulling at your lips with your fingers for an extended period of time would cause the filler to settle unevenly or essentially create a “bump.” Which, you really don’t want.

 

Note to readers, if you do ever decide to get lip injections, don’t make out with a boy the next day. For starters, it hurts and secondly, it will make you paranoid. Paranoid that you’re teenage style kissing was too “rough” and potentially moved the filler in your lips. This of course will prompt you to e-mail your new, beautiful, smart doctor to ask her if making out is bad for your lip injections. To which she will reply that it is very unlikely and you should proceed with kissing should you wish.

 

Yes, I did do that.

 

Now, of course, as my kissing paranoia decreased, so did the swelling on my lips. Which means that perfect pout I thought I’d paid for didn’t stick around. What the hell? I knew she said that it would be subtle but even with the zoom side of my mirror, the side you really should never look into for too long, I couldn’t tell the difference! No one could. My lips looked exactly like, well, my lips. The top one was defined, yet small and the bottom had a slight plump quality that for some reason my Dentist found annoying.

 

Needless to say, six months later when the filler faded away (not that I could see it in the first place) I did not succumb to the torture of lip injections again. It wasn’t worth the money in my opinion, however the experience brought me a newfound appreciation for my lips as is. Who cares if they’re not pouty? I sure don’t anymore and that feeling is liberating! So worth the vibrator on my chin and the ding to my credit card.

 

I call that a trial and error scenario that parks itself in the win column.

 

My third win from that experience happened a week after my appointment when the botox kicked in. My confidence soared. Gone was the girl who feared pictures because of her wrinkles or feverishly touched her forehead whenever she got excited, just in case someone was looking at them.

 

Every four months, I see Dr. Katie in her posh clinic downtown for my “baby botox” and I don’t hide it from anyone who asks. I don’t get it to trick people into thinking I’m naturally forehead wrinkle free, or to prove a point.

 

I get it because it makes me a happier, more confident woman who smiles for the camera just a little more than she used to, and for me, that’s worth it.

 

 

 

Anne Jolin 2017