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botox to go: the new christmas present?

Christmas can prompt pretty ridiculous purchases (tis the silly season, after all). Even so, the concept of syringes and permanent marker on flabby body parts are not exactly festive imagery. Given that plastic surgery and anti-aging processes are actually pretty gory, what’s with their creeping into the market as a new Christmassy gift possibility?

The ethical and health implications of the plastic surgery industry are areas which would probably require several separate articles to cover properly. The field is responsible for some incredible techniques that enable reparation for those who’ve been in accidents, and relief for those with genuine physical ailments. Even on the purely cosmetic end of the scale, it’s difficult for me to put a blanket judgment over those who choose to ‘enhance’ their bodies. What we can perhaps say, though, is that even smaller procedures like lip enhancements and Botox require some research, thought and feedback from professionals before jumping in.

Let’s link this back to some of the Christmas cosmetic options that retailers have given us in 2011. Department stores are suddenly stocking products that mimic the look and results of professional procedures like Botox, electrolysis hair removal and lip enhancements. Companies like ‘Freezeframe‘ package up such products in neat little syringes and small medical-looking packets. These sit, retailing at up to $250, next to your less adventurous cosmetic options (think body butter and eyeshadow palettes).

It’s always amusing when Christmas degenerates into a rehashing of ‘Pink for the Girl, Blue for the Boy.’ DIY anti-aging hampers are marketed almost exclusively to women. This isn’t really surprising, except it’s interesting to think how this subtly tilts scales of normality for gift purchases. What, exactly, are the implications of suggesting someone would love to be given the opportunity to reverse their biological clock for the festive season? Products like this give another cosmetic gift option to close family members and friends. While it’s hard to imagine wrapping up anti-wrinkle cream and handing it over earnestly as a present, no doubt there’s a market of those wanting a cheap alternative to professional procedures.

What does stand out is how they are marketed in such a young way. Cute pastel colours and neat little compartments don’t just make anti-aging products seem socially harmless, they also make them seem more necessary. One would think that starting anti-aging regimes in your teens is a little pre-emptive. Still, the placement of these ‘miracle cures’ next to what are essentially tween stocking fillers will perhaps go some way to lowering the age at which we panic about ‘signs of aging’, erasing the quality of our existences.

Buying Christmas presents for young women, especially if you don’t know them well, can result in falling back on stock standard feminine favourites like make up and beauty products. Often these seem more likely to fit all personalities, and are cheaper and easier to find than options like music or books. There isn’t anything wrong with this, per se. Of course a ‘Freezeframe’ lip enhancement pack probably won’t be your first port of call when buying an acquaintance something pretty. But the funny thing is that from the ridiculous to the innocuous, Christmas has a role in cementing people into categories – both aged and gendered. Whether you’re a young girl or a middle aged woman, department stores have a corner of cliches to cover your Christmas. And it isn’t that we necessarily want to buy into these neat categories of gift, but often that there’s too little time or too much pressure to do anything else.

I don’t know about others, but claiming that you can get a Christmassy, cosmetic surgery-esque result from the comfort of your bathroom is something to be questioned. You should be able to decide what you do with your body. But when your anti aging regimes are prompted by models in catalogues, it shifts how important those decisions are.

How problematic is this? More to the point, how can you circumvent the often silly gift options that get served up for girls and boys, ladies and men, during this time?

What do you guys think?

(Image credit: 1.)

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