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How vain are botox users? Depends on their age, study finds

Worried about wrinkles? The sellers of "age-defying" anti-wrinkle creams would like you to be.

But a University of Toronto study says that even though advertisers push an acceptance of adults who decide to fight aging cosmetically – through creams, Botox and more invasive surgical options – women still judge other women who try to iron out those little lines on their faces.

The research team, led by associate professor of psychology Alison Chasteen, examined the perception around "age-concealment" techniques by gathering two groups of women: a young group with an average age of 19 and an older group with an average age of 70. The groups rated four categories of middle-aged women, ranging from those who had no treatments done to those who had gone under the knife to keep their youthful appearance, in terms of their perceived vanity and "typicality" (how typical it is for a woman of that age to get that procedure).

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The study found that middle-aged women (defined as ages 40 to 60) who had Botox or cosmetic surgery to reduce the appearance of aging were deemed very vain by teenagers and seniors alike. However, the older group thought that women in their 40s who underwent these procedures were weirder than the Botox users in their 60s.

"Despite these differences, however, both young and older adults evaluated targets in their 60s more favourably than those in their 40s," wrote Ms. Chasteen in the study, illustrating that Botox isn't really considered acceptable until after a person reaches 50. And even then, if you get Botox, you'll be considered vain by most other women.

Certainly women in their 40s have it the worst. Neither of the test groups found it acceptable to use anti-aging techniques and they were judged very vain, even by older, more wrinkled and perhaps Botox-filled women.

Ms. Chasteen and her team also briefly touched on perceptions of men who fight their crow's feet and found that "all appearance-enhancing behaviours may be unacceptable for men."

In fact, the study may be bad news for a lot of boomers, since the Associated Press recently reported that boomers are collectively willing to spend billions on age-fighting creams and surgeries.

It's probably better to save those billions, dear damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't boomers, because if you're not getting judged for looking old, you'll be judged for being vain.

Would you consider using Botox to hide signs of aging, even if others think you're vain for doing so?

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About the Author

Madeleine White is the Assistant National Editor for The Globe and Mail. She has been with the Globe since 2011 and previously worked in the Globe's Video and Features departments, covering topics ranging from fitness and health to real estate to indigenous education. More

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