Wednesday 25 February 2009


I'm in with Preema again so she can check the efficacy of the new super-strength British botox she jabbed into my forehead the other week. Apparently, original Botox isn't up to the job of paralysing my super-strength British muscles, pulsing as they are with the bold, sturdy genes that strode up Everest in a pair of stout boots and a Harris tweed jacket. So she's been experimenting with something so fabulously toxic that normal muscles sink into a sullen torpor at the merest whisper of its name. But my forehead is still putting up an unseemly fight, like some long forgotten SOE operative. She decides I need topping up with even more poison and I swear I hear her hiss 'Resistance is futile' into my brow line as she advances towards my unrepentant wrinkles with an enormous vial and even bigger needle.

Actresses pay Sebagh et al small fortunes for partial paralysis - enough to look young and fabulous under sympathetic lighting, but not so much as would take the Oscar potential out of the performance. I'm too tired to offer up an Oscar worthy anything 24/7. But I do have cogent business and personal reasons why I don't want to show any negative emotion whatsoever. Impassive would do it. Inscrutable would be even better. It worked for Diane de Poitiers, who wielded her power and allegedly maintained youthful good looks by never letting the slightest emotion register on her face. Quite how she did this without the aid of injectables I have no idea. But there's something to be said for the power conferred by an immobile face. The nuclear-powered botox had better be the answer.

All my life I've been cursed with a Roger Moore eyebrow. I don't want to raise one eyebrow quizzically: it's all right for Romantic Heroes and Sir Roger, but on me it not only gives me shocking horizontal forehead lines, it also makes me look at people like I think they're mad. Or stupid. Or worse. At the very least, this involuntary quirk makes me look as if I'm expressing mild disbelief and believe me, in this economic climate it's not good for the Managing Director to think you're questioning a decision. To be fit for business in 2009, one should look like one could achieve the impossible for the ungrateful, single-handedly waging war on recession armed only with a pair of sharpened Rupert Sandersons and a 'can-do' attitude. Exhausting. I can't possibly manage that amount of 'Captain of the Netball team' enthusiasm, and even if I could, my left eyebrow would denounce me, raising itself into my hairline in an unbecomingly cynical manner. All I can manage is to deny readability. We don't realise how much we rely on reading people's faces, until those faces become unreadable. Applause junkies work harder if they're not fed with tacit approval. The inclined to criticise climb down, because you appear unaffected by their judgements. Bad news is received with apparent equanimity. Good news the same.

It's not just in the workplace that showing one's feelings is a hazard. At home my face seems to have set itself in the disagreeable lines of the permanently disgruntled and dissatisfied. Curiously, this isn't a true reflection on the inner workings of my head - fundamentally I'm content - but Mr Trefusis has registered the constant scowl and is disobliged to cajole me out of a black humour, choosing instead to play it back to me with some special features of his own. One of us will have to break out of this mexican stand off and stop glowering and start smouldering instead. Much more fun. And if muscle paralysis is the simplest quick fix and an easy shortcut to rebooting the mood chez Trefusis, sign me up for a lifetime's supply.

It seems that changing the look on my face is the best I can muster right now in the way of managing my world. My first attempt at botox only confirmed to me that a smoother expression begets a smoother life. Pray God I'm not resistant to this variant too.

This is not, then, about the pursuit of youth, but the pursuit of peace: Sanity not vanity.

Dr Preema Vig MBBS MRCGP. 02079385488


Anonymous said...

Lovely post! You lend poetry to the poison..
Botox is an essential weapon in the armory of mental health, in my opinion. My personal experience is that when you can't make the faces which express stress or other negative emotions, it's curiously hard to feel them. Kind of like physical Prozac with a side of localised youth.
I shouldn't worry too much about having to beat down the ultra strong muscles in your brow for too long. If you keep it up regularly they will eventually atrophy for lack of use (eeuuww!) and it will then be much easier to keep the unruly beasts under control. Take that, ghastly lines! The only ones we want are more of your prose.

Liberty London Girl said...

I look a good five years younger than my real age (well,you've seen my mother at 63...)But on Saturday night my GBF stopped mid convo to point out (rather worriedly) three microlines that have appeared on the top of my cheekbones, each side, in the past month or so. And so it starts. I finally have developed minute wrinkles closer to 40 than 30. So I'm well past the age that a lot of people start Botox & I now realise that I will happily pay good money to preserve my face as it is now, before it deteriorates any further. The moment I get my hands on a decent commission I'm going under the needle. LLGxx

Cassandra said...

"Sanity not vanity." Truly brilliant and my new motto - many thanks Mrs T! I haven't tried botox but feel guilty about buying creams - or rather, I DID. But no longer as I am pursuing domestic harmony rather than beauty. Cx

Anonymous said...

You are hilarious - and rather brilliant - my dear. Excellent post.

I'm very Bo-curious having just turned 35 and longer a member of the 18-34 demographic. Oh, the horror! xx

nappy valley girl said...

Interesting post. I'm far too much of a scaredy cat to go anywhere near a cosmetic needle, but the current stress of imminent move abroad is taking its toll on my face.....maybe I'll be changing my mind once I get Stateside and have to compete with those Manhattan yummy mummies.

Red Shoes said...

Your insight on the merits of being unreadable were truly illuminating to me. I thank you for that. Unfortunately, it is something that I would have a very, very hard time doing without medical assistance. I have a ridiculously expressive face... trouble is: it often reflects thoughts or emotions that I'm not actually having.. in fact are quite contrary to what I'm actually having. I'm one of those people who is continuously asked "what's wrong?!" when truly... nothing is. I think I will practice unreadability. Seems preferable.

That said, I would still LOVE a quizzical eyebrow. Have always admired those. I have no problem with looking at people as though they are mad, stupid or both. It falls in line with my aspiration to appear aloof and intimidating. What fun.

The Spicers said...

I haven't endured Botox yet, but I'm turning 39 this weekend and starting to look like a shar pei, so I fear the time is near. Anxious to hear how yours worked out.
And congrats on the Best Blogs mention!

Helen Brocklebank said...

Mothership: you are my guru. without your emails I'd be still wailing into the mirror like Munch's 'Scream'
About Me: God, if I thought I could look like your mother at 63, I'd be over the moon. Reckon you will though, so no one will notice the micro-lines, too busy admiring the bone structure
Cassandra: sanity not vanity is more wishful thinking for me than a motto. Though 'vanity not reality' might be appropriate
TopBird: Bo-Curious. Utterly brilliant expression. Consider it stolen. I refer you to Mothership on all matters technical, however.
Nappyvalleygirl: Once you've arrived (and stopped having to worry about the colour of worry, tee hee) all the stress will magically disappear from your face. Guaranteed.
Redshoes: love the idea of a paradoxical face, your expression contradicting your emotions. Though believe me, quizzical eyebrow vastly overrated.
iheartfashion: it's Botox 1, Reality 0 chez Trefusis. Mr T said, after I came home and dropped bombshell of frightful day at work, 'it's good that you're managing not to be too stressed about it, though'. hah, i thought, little does he know what's going on behind this mask of total paralysis...
Mrs Trefusis xxx

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting fact about Diane de Poiters. I do love little snippets like that.

Cassandra said...

Have you actually gone and killed the angel? I was going to comment on her...