Botox for Seniors: Body Conscious in the Golden Years


If you thought that only 20-somethings and popular celebrities worried about body appearance, you might be surprised to hear that even seniors have body image woes.  While they may focus on different aspects of their bodies than they once did, many seniors still feel pressure to defy age rather than accept an aging body.

 It’s not surprising, is it? With headlines like, “Don’t Look Old!”  “Look younger!” and “Don’t Accept your Sagging Skin!” the message is clear from Hollywood to New York: If you’re not young, tall, slim, and perfect, you might as well hang in the towel. 

That youthful body ideal, while unattainable for most Americans regardless of age, presents an even bigger hurdle for seniors.  Each year that we age, is another year that will likely take us further away from the thin (or muscular) youthful body ideal.  People typically put on weight throughout the lifespan, change shape, acquire wrinkles, and develop grey or thinning hair.  Medical problems such as stroke, osteoporosis, arthritis, fractures and pain compromise the body’s reliability, function, and appearance. 

This is particularly problematic for women in our society whose value and status is often contingent on how well they conform to the thin and youthful body ideal.  The physical signs of menopause such as larger breasts, thickened waist, and increase in fat on the upper back coupled with typical medical problems of seniors can make the body less reliable, less mobile, and less youthful-looking. Women of all ages are concerned about how well they stack up.  For men, who gain status through a broader range of qualities such as power, intelligence, and wealth as well as a commanding presence, the ability to match up with today’s body ideal is less important.  This “double standard” for women has been pointed out by many. Women are judged much more harshly than men for their appearance.

Is it Botox or perish? Does growing old gracefully really mean hiding the signs of aging? Editors of beauty magazines routinely admit retouching photos so that 60 year old women look 45 and “How Not to Look Old” is a current New York Times Best Seller. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery registered 11.5 million cosmetic procedures in 2005, of which 81 per cent were non-surgical procedures such as such as chemical peels, Botox injections, injectable fillers, and laser skin treatments. The majority of all procedures were performed on women and about a quarter of these procedures were performed on 55- to 64-year-olds.

Do we ever grow out of feeling like we need to look thinner, younger, or more like we stepped off a magazine cover? What do you think?


One Response

  1. It’s tough, especially for women, with the constant bombardment of false imagery..”if you don’t look 19 you are scum”. If we all spent as much time working on the inside (something TV, Movies and Madison Avenue never address) the world would be a better place. It’s like guys who get toupees – if you are a jerk without hair, you’re still going to be a jerk with hair. Spend your time and effort on not being a jerk…

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