• Dr Claire Ashley

Why the stigma associated with injectables?

I visited the Glowday headquarters in Bristol today, where I had a really fascinating conversation about the stigma that is associated with botox and filler treatments

The stigma is an interesting phenomenon in the digital age. We lay our lives completely bare on social media, happily share our latest haircut, piercing or tattoo, and yet despite all this openness we still really shy away from talking about botox and fillers

Recently I was sat on a train (going to an aesthetics training event, in fact) listening to a podcast by Sali Hughes, which was all about injectable treatments such as botox and filler. It was a really fascinating listen, and I encourage any one who has any questions about injectable treatments to go and have a listen. One of the issues touched upon in the podcast is the stigma associated with botox and fillers. Sali, a well respected beauty journalist, commented that she is asked regularly about injectables, but never in public. Not everyone is comfortable talking about having injectable treatments openly

I think that there are several reasons as to why that is the case. I find it fascinating that women have, for centuries if not millennia, sought to enhance their appearance and natural beauty through cosmetics and hair dye. But for some reason, having injectable treatments appears to cross some invisible line in the sand between what is considered appropriate to do with your face and what isn't. We might put hundreds of pounds worth of creams and serums on the surface of our skin, but for some reason, injecting botox or fillers is sometimes protrayed as "cheating". As women age (and men too!) we are expected to continue to look good and presentable, and yet the paradox is that at the same time society makes us feel guilty and shameful if we try to do anything about it. This double blind is what I feel is the crux of the problem when it comes to the stigma associated with injectable aesthetic treatments

The aesthetics industry is growing at an astonishing rate. Last year alone the market for dermal fillers and botox went up by 45%. There is clearly a massive demand for these services, and being open and honest about what women are having done will help create a culture of acceptance and safety

Negative media coverage of botched work definitely contributes to the stigma too- the horrifically graphic photos of the consequences of vascular occlusions, the frozen and startled expressions of over-botoxed celebrities. The advertising ban on botox, although legally necessary, does not help as this stops reputable professionals from openly discussing and demystifying this treatment on social media and empowering our patients with knowledge. No medical procedure is without risk, but in the right hands these treatments are largely safe and should look good when done properly. However, the treatment you are having is only as safe or as good as the person injecting you. It is imperative that if or when you decide that you would like to try injectables that you do so with a practitioner that is safe, experienced and ethical. When we don't talk about what we've had done and share our collective experiences, this fuels the market for injectables from unregulated and potentially unsafe therapists

Whilst high profile celebrities such as Kim Khardashian and Kylie Jenner have raised the profile and acceptability of injectables, they only promote one type of aesthetic which doesn’t appeal to everyone. Often when people think about botox or filler that they automatically assume this is the aesthetic in mind, and that can lead to unnecessary judgement and also fuels stigma. Not everyone wants or suits the Khardashian look and thank goodness for that! A reputable practitioner won’t make you look like a Khardashian clone, they will do work that is discrete, sympathetic and suits you

Despite all the secrecy and stigma, if having a little tweakment improves your confidence and makes you feel better about yourself then I say good for you! I really feel that we should not judge those who wish to look or feel better about themselves when we live in a society that largely makes women feel inadequate and insecure about their outward appearance. If you chose to have a treatment that means that the outside appearance reflects your inner confidence more then all power to you, whether or not you chose to share that you’ve had it done!

Writing this post has really made me think about some of the issues that face potential patients that are holding back for fear of judgement. I would love to hear what your thoughts are. Perhaps you have had some treatments and happily tell all your friends about it? Or perhaps you are thinking about having some tweakments but are worried you will be judged if you decide to go ahead with it? Whatever your perspective is, please let me know as I would love to discuss it in the comments!

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