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Ageing gracefully has been my beauty philosophy since my early 20s, when I saw the train wreck of before and after pictures of a certain Hollywood celebrity  after her plastic surgery.  It had the effect of steering me away from wanting to do things to my face – and by that, I mean aesthetic treatments that alter a person’s face contours, dramatically or otherwise. 

When you’re in your 20s, it’s easy to age gracefully. All I had to do was eat well, sleep well and exercise. My skincare routine consisted of just cleansing and moisturising. If I was in the mood, I’d put on sunblock or a sleeping mask. At 29, when I got carded at R21-rated movies, my heart would do a gleeful dance.

Then I had two kids. And I hit my 30s. And it all went – well, not exactly downhill, but down a gentle slope. I said hello to nasolabial lines, fine lines below my eyes and a subtle sagging of my chubby cheeks. I also noticed that my double eyelids would disappear from time to time because of said skin sagging.  

All these changes coincided with the time I became a beauty journalist, where I saw aesthetic treatments becoming increasingly less invasive, and with little downtime. So imagine how tempting thread lifts and fillers sounded to me. 

But still, I said no. 

Yes, the effects of invasive aesthetic treatments are temporary, and you can choose not to get them redone. And yes, some of the ingredients used, such as hyaluronic acid for fillers, already exist in our bodies. 

Yet, I worried about how skin that is stretched out doesn’t bounce back. And what I’d look like after. Case in point: just Google “Courteney Cox fillers”. Those pictures haunt my dreams. It scares me how she looks like a completely different person. 

And it’s not just that. Coming across body positivity movements on social media, I became hyper aware of how beauty is a social construct. And that part of me that is a (yes, it’s the F-word) feminist baulked at succumbing to the pressure of living for the ’gram. It’s a life where looking good is prioritised over living well, and where one’s self worth is tied to the number of likes and followers one has. 

As I write this, my inner critic is calling me a hypocrite because I’m not totally against all aesthetic procedures. I am open to lasers and Ultherapy (which tightens and lifts the skin). My stand is that these are non-invasive and help improve collagen production to tighten and tone skin. But I’m still wary of the follow-up treatments I would have to do if I were to get “hooked” on them.

So, it’s a definite no for me if you want to place a foreign substance into my body for the sake of vanity. 

And to the doctor from an aesthetics clinic who tried to get me to do botulinum toxin treatments by asking me: “You’ll have a more V-shaped jawline and look slimmer and better in pictures. What’s there to lose?” I’d say, my self-worth, that’s what. – KT


This story was first published on Her World’s October 2019 issue.