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The backlash against Botox

entertainment Updated: May 21, 2012 12:16 IST

Have you noticed how the only time celebrities ever own up to using Botox is when they announce that they are giving it up? It’s a bit like how they only admit to ‘substance abuse’ (i.e. doing copious amounts of cocaine) when they are finally checking into rehab in the full glare of the cameras.

The latest in the long line of Botox deniers is Nicole Kidman. The actress, whose forehead has been completely immobile for well on a decade, has never ever owned up to using Botox, putting her wrinkle-free look down to good genes and clean living. But brave Nicole has now fessed up, declaring that she no longer thinks Botox is a good look for her. She intends to give up the needle, as it were, and let nature take its own course.

Jennifer AnistonNicole is in good, if ever-so-slightly wrinkly, company. Both Courtney Cox and Jennifer Aniston, who once played best friends in Friends and now reprise the same roles in real life, also claim that though they have used Botox in the past (just the once, I’m sure!) they no longer do so. They simply didn’t like the way it felt and decided to give it up, they say, wiggling their eyebrows desperately to prove the point.

Terri Hatcher (Susan Myers in Desperate Housewives) went one better when she decided to ditch the botulinum. Getting out of the shower one morning, she took close-ups of her make-up free, Botox-less face and shared them with the world by posting them on her Twitter account. I don’t know if there is any connection but these days even Marcia Cross (who plays the control freak Bree in the show) seems able to move her forehead just a teeny-tiny bit when she wants to show emotion. It’s just the slightest creasing of skin but still, that’s progress.

But while there seems to something of a backlash against Botox in Hollywood these days, there has always been one notable refusinik. Julia Roberts has never agreed to join the ranks of the frown-free because, as she puts it, she would like her kids to know when she is angry. As Roberts once famously said, she believes that your face should tell a story – and it shouldn’t be about your visit to your cosmetic surgeon.

But with such A-listers as Kidman now openly eschewing the frozen look, could it be that the tide is finally turning? It certainly is beginning to look like it. Both Annette Bening and Julianne Moore in The Kids Are All Right had marvellously mobile faces, liberally sprinkled with laugh lines, crow’s feet and creases on the forehead. And as the stars traipsed down the red carpet at the Oscars recently, there were more wrinkles visible on faces than we have seen in years.

Ironically, just as the Hollywood brigade seems to be giving up on the trend, the Bollywood bunch is embracing it with both syringes. These days all our 30-something actresses have fewer lines on their faces than they did when they started out in their 20s. Some of them can barely raise a brow to express surprise, let alone frown to show disapprobation. And then, there are those 50-something actresses whose eyebrows are raised so high that they look perpetually startled (perhaps they can’t believe just how old they have gotten).

Needless to say, every one of them denies using Botox but they take great pleasure in pointing out who else has been having the stuff injected on a monthly basis. During one of the many shock-horror moments on his show, Karan Johar even asked his panel of guests to name someone whose Botox had gone really bad. It is entirely another matter that Anil Kapoor got the wrong end of the stick and went on about how Shilpa Shetty’s lips had changed shape and ruined the continuity of his film. (Karan had to gently point out that this must be put down to collagen not Botox.)

And as is usual, real life mimics the world of celebrity. Never before has the use of Botox been so commonplace. And yet, it is hard to find a 40-something woman who admits to using it. Ask them about their suspiciously smooth foreheads and they will tell you about this marvellous facial they had at that spa in Thailand or refer you to this new eating plan which involves all the best anti-oxidants the planet has to offer and which does wonders for the skin. Honestly, if their noses grew any longer, they would need the services of the plastic surgeon for something more than a little jab of the needle.

But maybe we should just give these ladies some time. Who knows, after a few years of being unable to express any emotion on their immobilised faces, they may just decide that it’s best to go all natural. And then, just like Nicole, Jennifer, Courtney, Terri and the rest, they may finally admit that they had been shooting up all along.

Until then, I guess, we will have to live with their lies, even if their foreheads give away the truth so effortlessly.

Follow Seema on Twitter at

- From HT Brunch, March 20

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