Are we approaching a Gen Z crisis?
Plump this, lift here and fill that. With many women in the UK having deliberated or proceeded with cosmetic procedures, the chances are if you haven’t done it yet, you have at least thought about it.
As the age that young women are undergoing injectable treatments grows younger, many have gone from side-eyeing plumped pouted influencer Kylie Jenner and her siblings, to outdoing them. Whether you’re a natural advocate, or debating between 0.5ml or 1ml of Revolax, we simply can’t escape the filler future.
The industry of non-invasive cosmetic procedures has millions of the British population investing in it, as young girls are rushing to book their first filler appointment on their 18th birthday. So where did this burning desire to pump our faces with Botox, Juvéderm and everything in between even come from, and what happened to the body positivity thing we had going on?
The popularity of cosmetic procedures has suddenly gone from a cringe-worthy (and mildly traumatising) episode of American reality series Botched, to thousands of licensed practitioners in the UK performing on young women every day. The snapchat filters first introduced in 2015 have since then given us a glorious taste of face enhancing – and now we’re suddenly a full-of-filler generation. Yep, our much-loved social media can arguably be blamed for older Gen Zers and young Millennials going crazy over facial augmentation.
Aesthetics practitioner and founder of Rawr Cosmetics Isha Jah, says that 70% of her clients aged 20-30 go to her for face enhancing procedures: “I get so many people come to their appointment and show me a photo of themselves with a filter on and say, ‘this is what I want’.”
With Instagram filters that give you those high Angelina Jolie cheekbones and the signature full Madison Beer lips, it’s hard for the thought of cosmetic enhancements to never cross your mind – and for some it’s even harder to resist. Yes the endless ways that one can alter their appearance through a screen are overwhelming, but it can be pleasantly fascinating to wonder what these filters would look like plastered on someone’s face in real life.
Perhaps just a little tweak here and there may be seen as harmless, but the truth is for most people tweakments are never enough.
The other side of the needle
Although more than half of our favourite celebrities have (not so) secretly shoved needles filled with Botox and filler in their faces, numerous people are still against artificial change, and encourage self-love and acceptance.
It is clear some people may not be able to shake the image of the famous cat woman Jocelyn Wildenstein, or stomach the idea of over plumped, lob-sided and bruised body parts.
“I think people are against filler because they still associate it with really unnatural enchantments, risks and people just looking botched,” says Jah.
Legendary singer and songwriter Madonna received backlash earlier this year when she debuted her contoured look at the 2023 Grammys.
“You’re not offended that Madonna had plastic surgery. You’re offended that you can tell,” says Claire Cohen, who discussed the public’s outrage for Vogue. The 64-year-old was heavily criticised for her cosmetic procedures despite doing the same thing as her A-list counterparts. Perhaps the problem is bad filler rather than all filler.
Twenty-one-year-old Poppy Goddard had her first lip fillers at age 19, and she hasn’t stopped since then: “I was insecure about my lips at a young age so I would always overline them, I only wanted a little bit but now I’m always wanting more because they never feel big enough.”
With Botox and fillers becoming more accessible and affordable, there isn’t much stopping young girls from getting more and more.
Jah admits that most of her customers are returning clients, with an estimated 80% of people who undergo non-invasive cosmetic producers return for additional enhancements. Not only do multiple procedures increase the risk of health complications, but you can also reach a limit of the number of invasive procedures your body can take.
After two years of having topped up filler, Goddard recently had to get her lip filler dissolved with what she described as the “worst pain [she’s] ever felt”. She now has an upcoming appointment to refill her lips, alongside Botox in her masseter muscle to slim her face.
“Having my lips dissolved took a massive toll on my confidence,” says the 21-year-old, “I definitely want to get more cosmetic procedures done.”
Although we can sugar coat cosmetic procedures and throw on a pair of rose-tinted glasses as we gawk over before and after Instagram photos, perhaps the reality of modifying one’s appearance in the name of beauty isn’t as pretty as it seems. The non-invasive cosmetic industry is suspiciously a little hush-hush about the long-term effects of aesthetic procedures. Altering an insecurity may feel liberating at the time, but how liberated can one be if there’s always something else that needs fixing?