Aging giddily

Summer Block
3 min readSep 5
The author and her forehead

Last Friday, I got Botox for the first time–or technically, Dysport, a gentler nudge of neurotoxins, what you might call the thinking man’s Botox. Before Friday I had never had laser, microneedling, a chemical peel, not even a spa facial. Then a few months ago, and seemingly overnight, a line appeared, a single vertical furrow between my eyebrows. Suddenly I became very aware of foreheads, other people’s and especially my own. I took a dozen forehead-foreward selfies, attempting to figure out what exactly was going on with my face. In June, I went in for a free consultation and left with a business card and the conviction that Botox was something I might do on some far later day. The following month over dinner, Margaret asked me brightly, “Mom, why do you have that line on your forehead?”

The doctor’s assistant photographed me raising my eyebrows as high as I could, and then, knitting them together as deeply as possible. Then the doctor came in to discuss my options. “I want to look very natural,” I said, “and not frozen–but I guess everyone says that.”

“No,” she replied, “some people say they want to look frozen.”

The doctor confided that she uses Dysport herself. She had the most perfect skin I had ever seen.

We took more rounds of photos, and the doctor marked my forehead with little white dots at the proposed injection sites. More photos, and she slightly adjusted the dots. One of my eyebrows is naturally higher than the other and she asked whether I wanted to retain that asymmetry. More than once she commented, “Your forehead muscles are really strong.”

The doctor left to go prepare the injections.

While I waited, I had plenty of time to take in the poster on the wall, a Maslow-style hierarchical pyramid following an aging woman’s gradual ascent into increasingly aggressive cosmetic interventions, from the base (wearing sunscreen) to the top (ripping off your whole face). Another poster showed an attractive middle-aged woman, her photo split vertically into Before and After Botox. After, she looked just as unhappy but a lot less surprised.

Nervous but resolved, I practiced the kind of composure that would soon be imposed on me by two dozen units of AbobotulinumtoxinA. I noticed that I was the kind of person who gets anti-aging treatments. I…

Summer Block

Writer for Catapult, Longreads, The Awl, The Toast, The Rumpus, McSweeney’s, and so on. Owner of After-Party Taxidermy. Working on a book about Halloween.