The Big B. Perhaps you think of it as an entry-level cosmetic procedure, perhaps the ultimate anti-feminist swindle, interfering with our natural ageing process, or maybe even a gift from God. Whatever your stance, your understanding of Botox is probably thus: it’s an injectable neurotoxin that temporarily paralyses muscles, thereby erasing or preventing lines and wrinkles. All true, yes, but that’s not what it was initially approved for. As with many cosmetic breakthroughs, it was a noticeable side effect from treating eyelid tics, muscle spasms and excessive sweating. A few years later, in 2002, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration approved Botox for cosmetic use to treat wrinkles. Sixteen years later, here we are: Botox is a billion-dollar business and about as shocking as dropping three paracetamol instead of the recommended two.
My own stance was one of ambiguity. I appreciated its capabilities with professional interest, but not a personal one. That is, until I suffered medication-induced hot flushes, which caused spontaneous hairline sweats that obliterated my composure and ruined my blow-dries. “Mum, I think I’m going to have Botox.” “You’re what?” she said. “It’s okay – it’s to help stop the hairline sweats, not the wrinkles.” (I won’t lie, the aesthetic side effects were a bonus.) “Oh, okay, that’s cleve