Oct 21 2012

Mixed feelings about Botox

I was still raw with grief over the premature death of my eldest sister three years ago when I stumbled into a dermatologist’s office in Ottawa. Sally had lost her life at 55 to malignant melanoma, leaving behind a loving husband, two adult daughters, who spent the last weeks of her life sleeping on gurneys in the hospital corridor, and a 12-year-old son.

And you thought the target market for Botox was middle age! Is the young woman featured in this Botox ad out of her teens?

Although my skin is quite different from Sally’s, a precautionary visit to have my moles checked seemed like a smart thing to do. I anticipated the feelings of vulnerability that I experienced as I entered the discouragingly full dermatologist’s office at 8:30 a.m.; what I couldn’t have predicted, however, was the rage that I felt when confronted by posters celebrating the 20th anniversary of Botox.

My fury was not solely about the popularity or promotion of an injectable toxin that aging women — and, increasingly men — are encouraged to believe they can’t leave home without, although now that you mention it, yes, I do resent that. But on this particular occasion it was heightened by the fact that I’d waited six months for an appointment, and was now about to have to wait another 45 minutes, despite being on time, first thing in the morning.

Earlier this week I received an email from Sandi Berwick, who’d come to the launch of I Feel Great About My Hands in Halifax. A grad student in the Department of Family Studies and Gerontology, she’s currently doing supervised academic research into women’s experiences with injectable facial procedures.

As someone who’s not immune to the wrinkles I see reflected in my mirror (see previous post), I’m interested to learn more about how this phenomenon affects women, and offered to try to help Sandi and her colleagues find additional research subjects. I’ve pasted the text of her notice below.

If you are a woman aged 35 – 65 who has had injections to reduce the signs of aging to your face but have mixed or negative feelings about your experience (for example, maybe you didn’t like how you felt emotionally or physically afterwards, you didn’t like how it looked, or other reasons),

 You may be interested in participating in this study on

Women’s experiences with injectable facial procedures

Participants will be Interviewed Privately and

Confidentially (in person, on-line Skype, or by telephone)

To find out more about the study or to participate, please contact: sandi.berwick@msvu.ca  (Dept of Family Studies and Gerontology)

OR call 889-4130 and leave a confidential message

 


Aug 24 2011

Mary Walsh on heartbreaking youngsters

Overheard on the patio of the Wooden Monkey restaurant in Halifax:

I know. I’m so old. When I turned 20 I literally thought I was going to die.

I rolled my eyes, tucked into my fabulous scallop and almond salad, and thought of Mary Walsh.

The Inimitable Mary Walsh (screen capture from canoe.ca)

Yes, that one. She contributed a vintage rant to I Feel Great About My Hands, every word of which leaps off the page in her inimitable voice. It’s so funny that although I’ve yet to have the honour of sharing the stage with her at a launch event, I shamelessly quote a few of her gems about menopause every chance I get, because they always get a laugh.

And towards the end of the piece she writes:

But really, what’s so great about being young? Just looking at the poor youngsters breaks your heart… tottering around with their pants down below their bums with their piercings and cuttings and brandings, as if life itself weren’t going to cut and pierce and brand them enough.

Most of the women in the book, like Mary, wouldn’t choose to trade places with their younger selves. And the feedback so far suggests that many readers find the contributors’ comfort in their own skins — however wrinkled — inspirational.

 


Aug 15 2011

It’s come to this…

This falls under the category of “you know you’re old when….”

We arrived in Halifax yesterday to glorious sunshine and enveloping heat with a beautiful breeze. In other words, perfect vacation weather. Once in the car, David driving and me navigating, it became apparent that fulfilling my responsibilities with the aid of one pair of spectacles was not possible: I needed two.

What can I say? I know it’s not a good look, but  the readers permit me to distinguish the lines and names on the map, and the sunglasses stop me from going blind.

And I’d like to be able to read from my own essay in I Feel Great About My Hands this afternoon on CBC Radio’s Maritime Noon, when Carol Bruneau and I get to speak to the lively and engaging Stephanie Domet.

In the meantime, I’m praying the predicted showers occur while I’m in the studio because CTV’s Starr Dobson has reserved a few minutes during the 5 pm show to devote to the book and the two events we’re doing tomorrow. (see Upcoming Events sidebar for when and where). And I know from experience that bad hair on TV has the magical ability to render a speaker mute (your lips move and the words are projected, but the bad vibes coming from your ruined coif intercept and disable the sound waves such that only the most evolved of viewers can actually hear what you’re saying).


Aug 12 2011

Celebrated novelist Carol Bruneau August 16th in Halifax

 

heartbreakingly true-to-life”

“empathetic and skilled”

“remarkably intricate, textured and complex”

… These are just a few of the superlatives that reviewers – from the Globe and Mail, the Sun Times, and the Literary Review of Canada – have used to describe novelist Carol Bruneau’s writing.

So I was delighted when she agreed to contribute to I Feel Great About My Hands. Her piece, entitled “Have Genes Will Travel”, pays tribute to both her centenarian aunt, and the mother she lost far too young – both of them inspirational role models with lessons to teach about how one might embrace the aging journey, and why.

On Tuesday, August 16th, Halifax residents and visitors alike can hear Carol read from her essay at the Halifax Club Literary Luncheon (12 noon, $20 buys lunch and entertainment, contact novamedia@gmail.com) and again at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia that evening (7 pm, no charge, RSVP info@informedopinions.org) alongside equally accomplished contributors Dawn Rae Downton and Sheree Fitch.

I look forward to basking in the glow of their reflected brilliance at both events. 


Jul 29 2011

Following Dawn Rae Downton “Into the Void”

I first met Dawn Rae Downton over the phone 15 years ago during a board recruitment exercise for MediaWatch (now Media Action). Even though the position was voluntary, we had more than ten applicants for the Atlantic Representative and most of them looked pretty desirable on paper. But Dawn Rae’s obvious intelligence, impressive experience and sophisticated sense of humour clinched the deal.

Shortly after joining the board, her administrative, process and financial abilities propelled her into the treasurer’s chair, and it was my great pleasure to serve with her for the next half a dozen years. But my fandom reached unexpected heights with the publication of her two memoirs, Seldom and Diamond. (Who says crackerjack administrators can’t also be gifted artists?) I find her singular voice both entertaining and seductively hypnotic: she lulls you in with the cadence of beautifully wrought sentences and then arrests you with a surprising image or irreverent aside.

Both of these traits are evident in her contribution to I Feel Great About My Hands. Her title – “Facing the Void” – is a play on words that hints at her essay’s focus on an aspect of aging that can keep one up at night. But in Dawn Rae’s inimitable hands, the essay introduces readers to some precious characters and offers an around-the-world privy tour that ends up in Anne Murray’s back yard. 

If you live anywhere near Halifax, you can hear Dawn Rae read aloud from the piece on August 16th. At noon she’ll be featured in a Halifax Club literary luncheon along with sister contributors, playwright, poet and performer, Sheree Fitchnovelist Carol Bruneau (more about her soon),and me. For lunch tickets — a steal at $20 — contact Stephen Patrick Clare at novamedia@gmail.com.

That evening, we’ll all be reading at a special event in the theatre space at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, accessible through the Bedford Rd entrance. RSVP info@informedopinions.org

Books sold at both events will benefit Informed Opinions, a non-profit project working to encourage smart women to mouth off more often. Really.