On being … a problem?

By Ingrid Sapona

Recently I was leafing through a catalogue at a friend’s house. It was for an American company I had never heard of. From the cover photo, it looked like it was from a ladies’ clothing company, but the company’s name sounded more like it had to do with home furnishings.

Turns out the company sells women’s clothing, accessories, and home furnishings. Seems an odd combination to me, but apparently there’s a “common denominator” to their products. The underlying theme of the store is softness. Virtually all items in the catalogue had a softness rating of from one (“so soft”) to three (“ultimate softness”). The only items that weren’t rated were the shoes and cosmetics.

As I turned the pages, one heading really caught my eye: Good-bye vertical lip lines! My first thought was, “what the heck are vertical lip lines?” Lucky for me, toward the bottom of the description of the (miracle) product was a before and after close-up of lips.

Well, sure enough, I saw what vertical lip lines are. But wait, I thought… “Wouldn’t a little Botox take care of that?” Clearly I’m pulling your leg… I couldn’t help wonder who is concerned about vertical lip lines – and who is shelling out $49 for 0.5 fl. oz. of cream to combat them?

Then, a few weeks later came word of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a new drug called Kybella. You probably heard the news about this miracle (or maybe just the angels’ trumpets heralding the news) – it’s a non-surgical way of getting rid of double chins. I know what you’re thinking: FINALLY!

But before you get too excited about this “double chin melter”, as some have described it, the treatment is not (pardon the pun) a one-shot deal. It involves monthly injections over six months. Mind you, it’s not one injection a month for six months – it’s multiple injections each month. One physician on CBS News said it could be as many as 50 injections in a month. And of course, as we all know from having heard the innocuous voice overs on various commercials for different prescription medications, there could be side effects (like difficulty swallowing, but never mind).

Besides the fact that I never considered having a double chin a “condition”, as one physician described it in an article about the treatment, I couldn’t help wonder if the scientific brain power and research (not to mention money) that went into coming up with this drug couldn’t have been better employed. Aren’t there diseases or illnesses those scientists could have been working on curing?

I know, in years to come, researchers will probably apply something learned from how Kybella works to some other treatment that is, shall we say, more medically necessary. But still, at this point, the idea of medical research and dollars going to melting double chins seems unreal to me.

I got quite bothered by the idea of both these products. I find it truly ridiculous that vertical lip lines and double chins are even considered a problem than anyone cares about, much less thinks they need to correct. I just can’t imagine who would pay for a cream to cure or hide lip lines, much less go through an arduous medical procedure to get rid of a double chin.

The more I thought about these products, the angrier I felt because it really seems to come down to the idea of how we define beauty and the lengths people go to fit into that definition. But then I realized it’s not just a societal obsession with beauty – there’s a healthy dose of vanity involved if you’re worried about such things.

Maybe for some readers, vanity’s role in all this was the first thing to come to mind. Honestly, it wasn’t mine because, to me, vertical lip lines and double chins always just seemed a natural part of aging – rather like crow’s-feet and gray hair. Hmm… grey hair… You know, I don’t have any. It’s true… I wash mine away about every six weeks. In fact, I spent some time doing just that this morning before I sat down to work on this column.

Alright, alright… now that I’ve come down off my high horse and thought more about these products, I understand that problems (especially those that fall squarely within the definition of “first world problems”) are – like beauty – in the eye of the beholder.

© 2015 Ingrid Sapona


Post a Comment

<< Home