Not All Positive: A Feminist Phenomenological Analysis of Women’s Experiences of Botox Treatment and Other Injectable Facial Fillers

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Berwick, Sandi
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Non-cosmetic procedures to the face (e.g., Botox and other injectable fillers) have been widely popularized in the media for how they reduce facial signs of aging, yet significantly misunderstood with respect to their impact on women, particularly those who have negative experiences. To fill this research gap, seven women who had negative or mixed emotions about having had Botox or other facial injectables were interviewed. The women were from Canada and the United States, and ranged in ages from 38 to 62 years old. Data was analysed using feminist moral theory and a hermeneutic phenomenological method, focusing on corporeal modes of being, as well as temporal and relational modes. Four women had serious physical and psychological side effects (e.g., heightened sensitivity to noise, anxiety, problems sleeping, and depression) (The Fractured Body), and others had impacts ranging from minor and unwanted physical skin changes to fear of potential, future side effects (e.g., fear of potential addiction) (The Reflective Body). Participants acknowledged influences of sexism and ageism and recognized the impact of patriarchal and capitalistic ideologies (The Commodified Body). Questionable ethical practices were evident in the medical profession, plastic surgery industry, and pharmaceutical industry (The Abandoned Body). Results also explore their transformations in terms of their relationships to their bodies and themselves (e.g., guilt over having had the procedure done yet a more positive outlook on aging), to others, to society (e.g., trust in the medical profession), and to the future (The Transformed Body). Although most people seem to not have negative side effects, there needs to be more room for these women’s voices, as well as a responsive and supportive medical industrial complex, rather than one that silences them.
Non-cosmetic procedures , Aging , Facial rejuvenation -- Risk factors