Or could it make you feel happy?
Laugh lines, crowsfeet, forehead wrinkles, lip crinklies. No one wakes up in the morning and thinks, “I wish my forehead had more lines on it” or “If only my eyes were a bit baggier…”
It’s when these little changes become noticeable that we stare just a little longer in the mirror, longing for a way to tie back our necks and smooth our skin. We might even fantasise about a bit of Botox – hey, everyone has it nowadays and it can look pretty natural. It’s also becoming more socially acceptable, as more people opt for the treatment.
Botox has become so mainstream that it’s even on the rise in women under 30 (56% surgeons in the US saw an increase in 2016), which usually makes anyone over 40 wonder, “Why…?”
Well, I’m not here to judge one way or the other. In fact, I know quite a few women who have a bit of filler and it makes them feel beautiful and confident. I wouldn’t mess with that.
I did however come across some interesting research that is worth knowing before you make any decisions about whether Botox is right for you.
Do you smile when you’re happy, or do you feel happy when you smile?
The connection between your mood and your facial expression was first hypothesised by Charles Darwin in 1872. He believed that if you suppress the expression of an emotion, you are suppressing the actual emotion. And the same can be said in reverse; smile to feel happy. A study by Richard J. Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, supports this theory.
Davidson’s research found that the area of your brain that deciphers emotion doesn’t receive the right signals when you don’t make a corresponding facial expression.
Botox interrupts the feedback from your face to your brain."
Does this mean that reducing facial lines with Botox injections can affect the way we feel? Yes, it can. Dr Michael Lewis (Cardiff University) explains,
The expressions that we make on our face affects the emotions we feel; we smile because we are happy but smiling also makes us happy. Treatment with drugs like Botox prevents the patient from being able to make a particular expression. For example, those treated for frown lines with Botox are not able to frown as strongly. This interrupts the feedback they would normally get from their face and they feel less sad."
Well, feeling less sad sounds good. But what about the potential for feeling less happy?
What if Botox impairs our ability to process quality emotional experiences altogether? Could this shape who we are or who we would become?
I think it’s worth some thought.
PS. Try this experiment:
Step 1: Check in with yourself to get a rough idea of your mental state at this moment.
Step 2: Smile like a slightly crazy person for 40 seconds. I’ll admit, you’ll want to be alone when you do this, haha.
Step 3: Check in again. Notice anything? I bet you feel a bit happier than you did in Step 1 🙂