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"Teen Toxing" Trend Gains Traction

Posted: July 2, 2010
Timid girl

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Torres, the 19-year-old who opted for Botox to erase the “squint lines” she saw after switching from glasses to contacts, says she and her friends don’t see anything wrong with cosmetic procedures, even at age 18. “We’re surrounded by it,” she says. “It’s in all the magazines, and all of my friends’ moms do Botox. If you’re really not happy with yourself and how you look, why not get it taken care of?”

The attitude that all flaws need to be “taken care of” is precisely the problem, says Roni Cohen-Sandler, a clinical psychologist and author of Trust Me, Mom – Everyone Else is Going! “I don’t know about the medical implications of the long-term use of Botox-like agents, but what disturbs me is the underlying preoccupation with youth and avoiding ‘imperfection,’” she says. “Are they so afraid of laugh lines or natural aging? They’re growing up with the mentality that there is a quick fix for not being ‘enough’ in every way, whether it’s Adderall to get better grades or surgery to change the size or shape of their breasts.”

But there can be extenuating circumstances, says Colleen Dozark, a 58-year-old billing manager from Omaha, Nebraska, whose daughter got Botox injections at age 16. “She had a terrible crease in the middle of her forehead,” she says. “[The Botox] wasn’t changing her looks in any way; it was more of a preventative measure to train her not to frown there. I only allowed it because it was such a severe crease for a young girl and it was kind of bothering her.”

But Cohen-Sandler says cosmetic “fixes” not only counter healthy messages—for example, telling girls it’s who they are and what they do that count, not what they look like, they also set young women up for a lifetime of costly procedures.

Injections for life?