I’ve now clocked up twenty years in TV journalism and I am about to mark another milestone – 10 years as a Sky News presenter. Like all major anniversaries it’s a time for reflection – for looking in the mirror and taking stock, of life, family, achievements and yes inevitably one’s appearance. A decade of reading the headlines, but do I now have too many head-lines of my own?
Ageing isn’t something that happens to you overnight, it creeps up on you, taps you gently on the shoulder and can scare the living daylights out of you. Ten years, three small kids who think the idea of sleep is one big joke, and the introduction of a new high definition studio, can certainly speed up the ageing process! But for some reason I can’t actually see it in the mirror. It’s only when I look at my Sky News ID photo and others taken a decade ago, that I can see how much I’ve changed.
And so – to botox or not to botox; that is the question? It’s one that seems to be coming up with increasing regularity.
Working in TV, appearance may not be everything but it’s certainly important – especially for women. We may like to think times have moved on and we are valued as much for our brains as for our looks but let’s be honest – when we see a woman on TV it’s rare that the first thing we evaluate about them is their intellectual ability.
And when it comes to my appearance my chief cheerleader and arch critic all rolled into one is my mum. My mother has always been, and I’m sure will always be incredibly glamorous. And it is she who has started telling me with increasing urgency that I “need” botox. Perhaps surprisingly I don’t see this as an insult, or take any offence. In her own way she’s looking out for me. She’s always wanted me to look my best and “make an effort”.
She insists that all the other women she watches on the news and indeed on TV, have clearly been ‘botoxed’ -because in her words – “their foreheads don’t move”. Initially I just ignored her comments, then I just laughed them off, but now I am actually having to justify why I don’t feel I need it (just yet!). I have told her numerous times that it really is ok for my face to express the normal range of emotions you might expect to see on someone delivering a variety of news stories. However my protestations are falling on deaf ears.
She would ideally like me to look “TV ready” at every moment of the day – unfortunately I invariably disappoint her. I don’t really have the inclination to wear a full face of make up for my non TV studio life -which is mainly spent ferrying one of my 3 children to school/activities or at the supermarket! Growing up with a glamorous mum has its ups and downs. When people meet her and invariably say – “ no this can’t be your Mum -she must be your sister” – this isn’t just a platitude – they really do mean it. I’ve heard it so many times I now just roll my eyes- although I am proud to have a Mum in her sixties, who looks so fabulous. But when at my 21st birthday party most of the male guests fancied my Mother, I did think growing older might not be so bad!
And so here I am. Now I have absolutely no idea who in my industry has or hasn’t had botox, and it’s not something I judge anyone on. If someone feels they want it or need it, or any other plastic surgery for that matter, I don’t have a problem with it. I am as guilty as the next person of looking at people on TV and in magazines and appraising their looks/age. This one looks good – that one doesn’t. We are a society obsessed with our own, and other peoples’ appearances.
When I look in the mirror I don’t particularly mind what I see. Thanks to my mother (did I mention how fabulously glamorous she is!) and her Persian genes I don’t seem to have too many wrinkles…yet! Yes my forehead does move when I speak but I’m quite happy with being able to show expression…for now anyway. But does society have a problem with the way I look?
Once upon a time, not all that long ago, botox was something of a dirty secret. If you did it you certainly didn’t talk about it. Heaven forbid you should actually ask someone to their implausibly youthful looking- line free face if they’d had a shot of the magic stuff. Recently though I’ve lost count of the number of botox conversations I’ve had with friends, and not so close acquaintances. It seems to just come up in conversation alongside what the kids are up to and what we’re planning on doing over the holidays.
It may just be because of our age as we now gently creep past the 40 mark. Or it may be that botox is just so cheap and easy to access that – like waxing and eyebrow threading – it’s becoming something one “just does”. It’s only been around as a method of treating lines and wrinkles for 13 or so years but it seems it’s now become society’s norm for women to refuse to, as the saying used to go “grow old gracefully”.
As I’m urged down the botox route, I’m warned that if I don’t start now, before long it will be too late and the damage will be done – there will be no turning back ( short of a face lift). Is it really the case that if you get too wrinkly it just doesn’t work – or are the botox boffins relying on the fact that those who care will be too scared to risk finding out?
Despite my scepticism, I have to admit I am starting to get a little concerned (clearly not helping those worry lines!). With the number of people in their 20’s using botox as a “preventative measures” on the rise -at the age of 42 perhaps it’s already too late! But if I do start now what will I look like in 10/20/30/40 years time? In fact with botox now so cheap, and available on most high what are we all going to look like in the future? Apparently the first person to live to 135 has already been born – are they going to resemble a spritely 50 year old as they become a centenarian? Won’t that just be weird? My grandmothers in their later years -both looked – well their age – but in some way their wrinkles told the story of their lives.
One other thing I’ve also started to consider is what example would I be setting for my 2 year old daughter. Aren’t I supposed to be teaching her to accept her looks and be happy as she is? Will I inevitably end up having botox, because I don’t want to be the only one looking “my age” Or perhaps I should hang on in for a botox backlash, when looking your age will be the “new thing”.