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Why is it better to be unable to smile than to have a few wrinkles?

By Rose Cooper - posted Friday, 6 February 2004

Most people know that if you rub a clove of garlic on the sole of your foot, your breath later smells garlicky. Nicotine patches work because nicotine absorbed through the skin hits the spot in the same way as chewing gum (or smoking) but without the awful taste. HRT can also be administered by applying cream. Surely it follows then that a toxin applied repeatedly under the skin would also have to permeate a person’s system.

So…would someone please explain the popularity of the Botox Party?

For the benefit of the uninitiated, Botox is the brand name for a naturally derived chemical which, when ingested in certain amounts, can cause botulism – a potentially fatal disease which causes muscle paralysis. In small doses, i.e. Botox injections, it paralyses small facial muscles so that frown lines and smile lines are eradicated – along with the frowns and smiles that spawn them. It lasts from four to six months then the procedure is usually repeated.


Sometimes referred to as the lunch-hour facelift, Botox injections have been marketed as relatively painless and simple. Is it me, or is the concept of wrinkle erasure via facial paralysis the most imbecilic thing you’ve heard since Daryl Somers last hosted the Logies?

We’ve become so accustomed to Hollywood stars doing outrageous things in the name of “beauty” that Botox has barged its way into the mainstream. We’re talking $50 million ad campaigns. Allergan, the company responsible, boasts that Botox is already the company's best-selling drug. Like nicotine before it, Botox is big business.

Researching this stuff reveals that the usual dose given to a human being will kill a rat. Experiments conducted on pregnant rats and rabbits showed that Botox caused small foetal size, deformity and death. Consequently, it’s not recommended to be used by expectant mothers.

Yet women are gleefully lining up to inject this crap under their skin – at least I presume they are gleeful…it’s difficult to tell by their stunned-mullet expressions. Just think…one slip, and instant “stroke sufferer” look. Talk about fashion victim.

Years ago, my late Aunty Betty related the story of her grand daughter asking her age. Betty cheekily replied, “I’m the same age as you”.

“You can’t be four,” the child squealed, “you have all those crumbles on your face!” This struck Betty (then 60) as hilarious. Rather than drown in insecurities over the child’s observance of her wrinkles, she merely delighted at the mispronunciation of the word. I loved her easy, hearty laugh. It was then that the tenure of her years was at its most visible - and in my opinion, most beautiful.


Perhaps it’s just me. I once read that someone remarked on Mick Jagger's wrinkles and the rock dinosaur maintained they were merely “laugh lines”. The person replied, "Nothing could be that funny”. If you ask me, compared to some of his wax-model like peers, Ol’ Mick’s hotter than ever. He’s real. The playful sub-text is as plain as the saucy grin on those famous lips.

Where would we all be without our facial expressions? How many emotions can be conveyed, without a single word being uttered? These gestures are a symphony for the deaf. Why would we seek to mute it?

While there’s no info on the long-term health effects of Botox, two interesting sidelights have appeared. As a patient’s scowl lines are erased, they consequently have to overcompensate - using different facial muscles. This, in turn, encourages new wrinkles to develop elsewhere. Second, some movie directors are refusing to hire actors who do Botox. It’s kind of impossible to portray subtle nuances of emotion if an actor is unable to look anything other than stupefied.

I have to confess - reading those two tidbits of information gave me another adorable new wrinkle.

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About the Author

Rose Cooper is a freelance writer and actor who has contributed to many national publications over the past 20 years. She was Australian Women's Forum Magazine's most prolific contributor as well as their Sex Advice Columnist. Her areas of expertise include comedy, women's health and sexuality issues, relationships, theatre and pop culture. For more of Rose's articles visit:

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