When I was a freshman in college, I had more than one acquaintance tell me I had a doppelganger on campus. None of them knew her, but they'd seen her and thought it was me until they got close up. Okay, whatever, I've also heard I look like the twin of Patricia Heaton and Roseanne Barr. But one day I was crossing the road to the student union and in the crowd in front, I see me. Well clearly not me, but my hair, my forehead, and brows. What the… and then the crowds parted and the woman did not look like me at all. But I then believed them.
I no longer have the same brows as my doppelganger. That is unless she also got Botox.
Other than middle school when I was saving up for a nose job or those couple of years in my 20s when I was trying to burn and/or sand the zits off my chin, I've found myself attractive. I like how my face is changing with the years, it's the coolest science fair project. Yep, there's those Dewey Beach summers and those college years spent in tanning beds. Oh, there's the chickenpox scar. There's the beginnings of an age spot on my forehead. The dash on my nose from my old nose ring. I've embraced them all. But the creases in my forehead were bothering me.
I don't desire any, “Oh no Allie, you look amazing!” responses. You know as well as I do that it doesn't matter what others think, it's you and your opinion that matters. And my opinion was that the creases in my forehead were detracting from the rest of me.
So I decided to get Botox. I did my research and went with a highly-rated doctor who is super nice and easy to talk to and look in the eye. He loves his job so much he nerds out on the specificity of things. He walked me through it (and all who watched my InstaStories) and totally impressed me. He also showed how one brow was lower than the other and how he could even them out without freezing my face.
A week later, the Botox kicked in. It looks pretty great. I don't look as though I'm made of plastic, my lines have smoothed out without disappearing completely. It's so subtle my mom didn't notice, my daughter didn't notice, and my husband didn't notice until I pointed it out to him.
But I see the difference, and it kind of freaked me out.
Over the years I thought I was perfecting my brow arch with careful tweezing and the occasional waxing session. Little did I know, it wasn't perfecting the arch, but the tails of my brows slowly sinking with gravity and age. Look at pictures of me as a kid and I had straight brown rectangles over each eye.
Thanks to Botox I again have straight brows. And every time I look in the mirror it shocks me, like I'm looking at my doppelganger. Almost the same… but not quite. This isn't my face… or is it? If I had spent less time sunbathing and more time moisturizing, if I had drunk fewer vodka tonics and more water, if I didn't try to work two full-time jobs and raise a human being all at the same time… would these be the brows I'd already have? Is this looking like someone different, or a return to my original self?
When you tell people you got Botox, they either raise their eyebrows with shock or else raise their eyebrows with curiosity. More often than not it's the former with a healthy splash of disdain and judgment. Sure you can dye your hair to cover your greys. You can get LASIK to not have to wear glasses. Got tattoos? Rock on with your bad self. Pierce your ears, your nose, your lip, your clit but Botox? That's so vain/dangerous/ridiculous/expensive/self-absorbed/succumbing to the male gaze/worrying too much about what others think.
Mix that with a stranger's brow and an episode of Black Mirror and you can be having an existential crisis at your bathroom mirror at 11 pm on a Tuesday.
Was this foolish vanity? I thought I did this for me but did I do it for others? The eyes are the window to the soul and I just changed the drapes and the shutters. What does that mean for my soul? How does a face define a person? Who am I? Does any of this matter? Do I matter? What is the purpose of this face, of this existence???
A week later, my new face is my new normal. We've stopped being the person we see more than once in the grocery store to acquaintances. We're almost to the point that we may do a coffee date. I have a feeling within a couple more weeks we'll be BFFs. And eventually, I'll look back at this blog post and wonder what all the hubbub was about. I have to say this two-week eyebrow journey has been the most introspection I've done in a long time. And I'm glad I did it now and not when I was trying to handle two full-time jobs. New brows with no sleep would be cause for much more drama than what I experienced in my bathroom mirror that Tuesday night.
My brows are different, but that doesn't mean they're bad. And just like a horrible haircut, a bad dye job, and a belly ring it's not permanent. But like getting bangs or going platinum, once you get used to it you may decide this is the new and improved You and choose to maintain it. And sometimes the risks we take help us better understand ourselves. They say everything happens for a reason, and maybe my new brows had the purpose of reminding me who I was and how she's still deep inside.