When I asked Dr Naomi McCullum, a Sydney-based injectables doctor, whether there were any procedures she frequently wished were possible, her answer, in all its point-blank macabre, assured me such:“I wish I could make eyes further apart, I wish I could make eyes more projected. I wish I could make hair thicker or remove or shrink skin without a scar. I wish patients had the option to assign themselves whatever skin tone they desired. I could go on and on,” she said. “I wish human anatomy was different, I want blood vessels in a different place so that some of my favourite filler procedures would have a lower risk. Honestly, I wish we had total control over our real-life avatars – our superficial appearance – and could skin them like in a computer game.”Skin them like in a computer game. It's where we are likely headed. Many of these “fixes” will become possible in our lifetimes.
“I wish I could make eyes further apart, I wish I could make eyes more projected… I wish patients had the option to assign themselves whatever skin tone they desired.”
For Doctor Steven Liew, a specialist plastic surgeon who founded the Shape Clinic in Sydney’s Darlinghurst in 2005, the ultimate goal is eternal youth. “Nowadays, with a lot of technology and understanding, we can slow down and improve the age-related changes to the face. We can also improve muscle tone, as well as maintain the fat. One thing we can't do is to stop or slow down body ageing,” he told VICE.
“One thing we can't do is to stop or slow down body ageing… I'm sure at some stage we will find some sort of injectable that will slow it down.”
What was once solely the theatre of those with enough wealth and privilege to afford weeks of housebound recovery is now, among women in their 20s, a quick trip to the clinic. It’s tossed about in conversation with no more occasion than a visit to the dentist. Dr McCullum was specialising in psychiatry in her 20s before she switched to a career in cosmetics. “When I look at people, I think I subconsciously register a list of ‘flaws’ from most relevant to least relevant. It's hard to explain.”“Botox arrived in Australia and of course I went and had a treatment, and at that first cosmetic appointment I was like, ‘yes!’ and saw my whole future immediately.”“I also see people's ‘future faces’, like how they will be in 10-20 years. However, I don't have judgement relating to beauty, it is just angles and proportions that I'm observing, so it feels more like doing maths in a way.”
I want lip filler for the same reason I put on makeup, for the same reason that drives me to trawl eBay every night looking for affordable designer clothes. It’s the same reason I will save money to buy a piece of art for my bedroom.If I wasn’t getting filler, I’d still be spending money every month on lip liners and glosses. Women should be free to do whatever they choose with their bodies – even, unfortunately, when that involves moulding themselves to fit a beauty standard that is undeniably prescribed by the patriarchy and its systems. It’s shallow, but it's also expression.It’s creation. I’m creating the reality I want for myself – I think.