Botox silences women’s faces – and freezes out empathy in body language

29 May

Botox Face

Facial micro-mimicry is the major way we understand others’ emotions. If you are wincing in pain I immediately do a micro-wince, which sends a message to my brain about what you are experiencing. By experiencing it myself I understand what you are going through. This suggests that not only do I find my Botoxed friends hard to read, but they are also hindered in their capacity to read me. An unfortunate feedback cycle. The possible implications of this are frightening.

There has been a study into the effects of Botox on the ability to empathise, but nothing that specifically addresses the impacts on friendship, or the mother-infant bond. The absence of discussion around the effect of Botox on mothering is troubling considering that a mother’s display of emotions is how the infant learns to interact with the world. Psychologists have a method for testing infant distress at unresponsive faces called the “still face paradigm”. Any alarm bells ringing?

Empathy is a cornerstone of our relationships, vital to both building and maintaining positive interactions with others. That many women are presenting themselves as a still image is disturbing and worthy of consideration. The poker face, by definition, doesn’t express anything. With the proliferation ofselfies and the focus on static representations of women’s faces, are we forgetting how much of who we are is communicated through facial expressions? Are we, in some sense, choosing a form of silence far more insidious than women have ever known in the past? Who benefits from the silencing of women’s faces? And what is the cost?

 

 

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