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Beauty and the Botox Beast

During my last Botox injection I had a brief conversation with my dermatologist on its long-term effects. Not about the long-term affects on our bodies, but specifically the consequences these types of technologies might have on our species. Let me give you a tiny example. A woman of say 25 begins receiving Botox. At 30 or so, she is receiving Botox and facial injections of products such as Juvaderm to replace the tissue that she is losing – losing fatty tissue in our face is just part of the natural aging process.

Is it possible that this same woman 15 years later will look similar to how she looked at 25? You bet! Her facial muscles have not moved enough during those 15 years to cause significant wrinkles and her face still has its youthful plumpness thanks to the injections. Perhaps, the 40’s will become the new 20’s? Is it a good thing? Maybe… maybe not.

It’s no secret that women want to be more attractive and younger looking. Is it the fault of magazines and television? Well, I think the magazines that take 5 hours to airbrush a model in a single photo might have a little influence in our grooming and primping rituals, but I think the existence of biological motives to achieve the beauty standards that we are so familiar with today is much more significant.

Let’s face it, women have been using make-up for thousands of years. We use make-up to look better and younger and ultimately to attract males. …And maybe other women. And, while some methods used to achieve this feat may be “normal” like the use of make-up, other methods might appear a little more radical. Plastic surgery seems pretty radical, but is it really?

Last year, The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported that there was just under 400,000 breast augmentations in the US in 2007. In addition, the AMSAP reported 11.7 million surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures performed in the US in 2007, of those 10.6 million were performed on women. There has been a 2% increase from 2006-2007 for cosmetic procedures. And, these procedures are taking place in every pocket of the globe.

I don’t think the feminist movement is doing much about this global phenomenon either. And, I don’t think change is possible. The only change will be in the increase of cosmetic procedures. Hell, I consider myself a feminist and I have done everything except go under the knife. And, the only reason why I haven’t done that is because I’m a chicken shit… and I don’t want to risk coming out looking worse than I did before the surgery.

Research presented at the 2008 American Academy of Otolaryngology found that women who use Botox received better scores on a variety of first impression scales. This study is compatible with evolutionary research on males’ visual cues to rate female attractiveness. I’ve heard on numerous occasions that men are visual creatures, (one word I think sums it up: PORN). But, the wealth of data and research flowing in are proving just how visual men really are.

And the ability of men to use visual cues to assess women’s mate value has been evolving since we emerged from our primate ancestors.

According to evolutionary theorists, a woman’s mate value is “linked to age, health, fertility, fecundity, and parity,” (Buss, 2005). Generally speaking, I think we all understand that men value youth and beauty above all else. But from scientific and evolutionary perspectives, what we know to be common sense can be proven with research and data.

Women who are younger have better mating opportunities than their older counterparts and can secure higher quality males and better investment. And, no matter what political correctness states, we cannot escape our biological heritage. The reality is that older women tend to be less fertile, so a woman of around 40 who gives birth will have a higher probability of having offspring with genetic abnormalities than her 25-year-old counterparts.

Research conducted by Maternal Fetal Medicine: Practice and Principles concludes that a woman of 40 has a 1 in 66 chance of conceiving offspring with chromosomal abnormalities. In comparison, a woman who is 25 has a 1 in 476 chance of conceiving offspring with chromosomal abnormalities. Furthermore, women who conceived after 40 are also more susceptible to miscarriage, low birth rate and other complications related with older maternal age. According to Buss (2005), younger women have more mating opportunities than older women, and their mates are observed to be more devoted using mate-retention behaviors. So, in a nutshell a 25 year-old woman has better mating opportunities than a 40-year-old woman and can replace males as need be more easily than her counterpart. But if a 40 year-old woman looks 25, she should theoretically have the same mating opportunities plus she has the advantage of 15 years or so of extra life experience.

Good skin, lustrous hair, ideal hip-to-waist ratios are all achievable now with technology and education. So, we can get hair extensions, breast augmentations, hire personal trainers, eat fewer carbs, but most importantly we can stop father time in his tracks with what I think are the most important cosmetic revolutions - lasers, fillers and Botox. In 2007, just under 3 million women had Botox procedures. Since 1997, non-surgical procedures skyrocketed by 754%.

If older women can “mimic” the appearance of women in their 20’s then what are the consequences of this?

A 40-year-old woman, who looks 25, still has 40-year old eggs. Sorry, but attempting to slow the aging process of your eggs with products like Botox is unlikely. So what are the implications? Males will still be swooning, and competing for these women’s attention just the same as they would a 25 year old, but when it comes time to settle down – if that’s what these women choose, then the reproductive ability of these women will become an issue. We probably won’t see the effects of this until a few generations of women have passed, and only if the uses of products like Botox become a normal part women’s routine. But, I predict Botox will be the new “make-up.” If this happens, and women put off their child bearing years until well into their 40’s, then I predict we are going to witness a huge rise in babies with genetic abnormalities. The consequences of this are far reaching. Not only will this affect our families, but also will affect our society, our economy, health care, and will have other unforeseeable and unintended consequences. What to do? I think two things are possible. We either freeze our eggs in our 20’s, which is super expensive at this time - just under $13, 000. Or, the process of natural selection works its magic and in a few thousand years or so women’s fertility changes and we’ll be able to give birth well into our 60’s. Anything is possible.

* I know feminists friends of mine who will cringe when they read this, but no matter how much you protest Botox, surgery, or what-have-you, women are still going to get the procedures. You can’t stop this cosmetic freight train. Especially, when it comes at only $9.99 per unit.
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