Feeling acutely anxious and at the same time oddly curious, I resorted to an impersonal, reporter-like agenda. As if we were talking about some other woman in the room, I asked the doctor, "What else might you suggest?" "A bit of filler under your eyes would soften the bags," she said. "And your upper eyelids are beginning to sag; if you had an eyelid lift, you would look absolutely fantastic."
I picked up the hand mirror and peered into it again. This time, I looked old, frail, and terminally exhausted.
"All right," I said. "I'll do the Botox."
A nurse appeared with a consent form. I ticked off the boxes, agreeing that various unlikely mishaps, should they occur, were my responsibility. Then, feeling sad and vulnerable and somewhat feebleminded—I had given in, given up, I was damaged by the ravages of age and I needed fixing—I signed the form. I put the pen down. And in that moment, it felt as if a switch went off in my brain, or my heart. "No," I said. "No," I said, "No. I don't want it."
"That's okay," said the doctor, kindly. "That's the right decision for you. Would you like something else?" she said, as if I might find another, less invasive choice from her menu of treatments more palatable. "No, thanks; I'm good," I said. And I fled.
In the cab on the way back to the office, I was both disappointed and happy. Disappointed because I actually would like to see the lines between my brows diminished and I would like to look less tired. And happy because I felt that in a small way I had practiced a kind of acceptance I believe will be valuable to me as I get older. It's hard to come by, this acceptance, especially in my business, and I refute it often: I'll continue to color my hair as it grays; I'll use a retinoid cream to keep my skin in good condition, and probably have some laser treatments. But for now, I won't be injecting anything into my face. Not Botox. Not fillers. You have my blessing to do it if it makes you happy. Maybe it will make me happy one day too.
But it isn't what makes me happy today.