The Virtual Botox Apocalypse
by Eric Wagner
Tuesday, August 7, 2002

Just one kilogram of of fully concentrated Botox, divided equally among eight million people, would kill half of them. Despite that some people are disturbed by the thought of injecting death, literally, into their faces to restore youth, Botox is a big hit among the image-conscious. I think, though, that what Botox consumers are really trying to do is turn themselves into a character in a flawless, digitally-rendered world, or a virtualized avatar, à la the first cyberflick, Tron (or, for those under thirty, Tomb Raider).

The word virtual, according to Webster's, means "in essence; not in fact." With popular misuse and media overuse, the meaning of virtual has somehow transmuted into "better than life; more exciting than reality." The original meaning, however, is more applicable to the recent popularity of Botox injection, because it makes injectees appear virtually young. Because physical appearance and financial success are, for some, inextricably linked, Botox's ability to smooth lines and wrinkles seems to appeal to those who want to erase all traces of emotion, vulnerability, and inferiority, both physical and financial. Beyond merely appearing young, Botox use seems to be a quest to be virtually not-dead, virtually pretty, or virtually rich.

The "rich" part is ironic, particularly now when virtually rich people are now actually poor. Perhaps Botox should be used as a treatment for Bear Market Depressive Syndrome. With just a little pain here and there, like magic, Botox users can feel like a twenty-something dot-com millionaire again (or, more likely, for the first time). Also, a quarterly injection of Botox is cheaper, in the long run, than jeunesse dorée accouterments like Kate Spade bags, Prada scarves, and Abercrombie & Fitch whatevers.

This analysis may be a bit of a stretch; nevertheless, I am confounded by people's obsession with normal facial lines while the Middle East succumbs to yet another round of violence, the stock market collapses, and senior citizens with shriveled 401(k)s pay for medicine by working at fast-food joints.

On the other hand, I am not above changing my own appearance for money. If someone offered me a million dollars to squirt some poison into my forehead, I would probably do it. I am not convinced, however, that paralyzing my face is the best path to riches. The money and time spent on Botox parties in my estimation, would probably yield more money (and possibly popularity) if applied to a well-conducted job search.

And speaking of the job search: the fact that so many people are currently seeking gainful employment is why, in essence, there is no Botox apocalypse, as, in fact, we are entering an all-too-real economic breakdown.

But worry not. Soon there will be legions of freshly Botoxed Stepford people chanting, "Good looks are just around the corner!" and we will all be virtually A-OK.

Copyright 2002 Eric Wagner All rights reserved.

Copyright 2001-2006 Eric Wagner All rights reserved.