Cosmetic Controversy of the Year:

Botox Backlash Starring Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow

Mythic tales feature villains to vanquish.  Tinseltown, the youth-obsessed purveyor of dreams and glamor, has a foe all its own. Wrinkles, long considered Public Enemy Number One for movie stars, are now on the run.  In the last 20 years, the therapeutic options for facial beauty have exploded.  Fillers, such as Restylane, Juvederm and Radiesse, restore volume and lift sagging features. Actress Nicole Kidman, shown in an image from her 2013 film, "Stoker", has wet eyes but no wrinkles. Are these tears of joy upon hearing about new cosmetic options?
Neuromodulators, like Botox, Dysport and Xeomin, reduce the lines created by years of frowning and squinting.  Lasers zap blood vessels and sun spots.  This veritable Avengers team of treatments vanquishes the effects of aging and sun exposure like Miley’s wrecking ball taking out a wall. The years burn away like this fiery image of actress Gwyneth Paltrow in "Iron Man 3." It's a happy Hollywood ending, crag-free, sag-free perpetual youth.  The soundtrack swells, credits roll, and there’s no blooper reel in sight.

While that might work for a comic book popcorn flick, reality is more like an indie drama.  Though movie stars bank on maintaining great looking faces, they are also expected to actually ACT.  To portray characters that appear at least somewhat normal, with features that are not over-exaggerated and plastic, and facial muscles that move to express emotions.  For several years, our site and many film critics and commentators have expressed concern about the facial changes of certain actresses in particular.  For example, American-born, Australian-raised actress Nicole Kidman.  Her frozen, expression-free forehead and puffed lips suggested overuse of Botox and fillers.

Finally, in January 2013, Kidman herself echoed those concerns.  She told Italian newspaper La Repubblica: “No surgery for me; I did try Botox, unfortunately, but I got out of it and now I can finally move my face again.”  Years of a flat brow seems to be more than just trying Botox, but admitting there is an issue can be the first step to recovery. This undated image shows the return of Kidman's frown.

In the Spring, fellow Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow stepped into the debate. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar in April 2013, Gwyneth detailed her pursuit of various cosmetic treatments: "I'll try anything. Except I won't do Botox again, because I looked crazy. I looked like Joan Rivers!"

Not surprising, outspoken cosmetic devotee and comedienne Rivers responded: “She [Paltrow] should see what I look like without Botox. That’s really scary!”  Rivers went on to more seriously point out: “I’ve always been open about what I do, because I want [women] to be able to get Botox and not look like a Shar Pei,” she said. “[Lying about having work done] is such a put down to women. It says to the average woman: ‘I’m beautifully naturally and you’re not.’” Full disclosure, the Shar Pei puppy is pictured on the right.


Gwyneth says she avoids Botox.
Yet her face is as smooth... Iron Man's mask.

Is Gwyneth being honest about her short-lived use of Botox? In 1998's "Shakespeare in Love," Paltrow showed her Oscar-winning ability to furrow her brow. Now, her 41-year-old fair-skinned face is REMARKABLY wrinkle-free. Her current lack of frown lines reminds us of a classic quote from the Bard himself, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

While it is problematic to use Rivers as a voice of cosmetic reason, given her arguable overuse of plastic surgery, she has a point. Whether Gwyneth has had the Botox monkey on her back for years is not the issue as how little movie stars honestly reveal their history of cosmetic treatments.

We are not suggesting that Kidman and Paltrow ban Botox from their brows or fillers from their faces.  The widely used treatments have been shown to be safe over the long term. Conservative use of Botox can reduce wrinkles and yet still allow for facial expression.  There is really nothing wrong with wanting to look your best, as long as the results don’t appear abnormal or plastic. Wrinkles don’t have to be the ultimate evil. Like a nuanced film performance, beauty management is a balancing act.  We look forward to Nic’s and Gwyn’s success in continuing to walk the cosmetic high wire.

Runner up:  Cosmetic Controversy of the Year:

No one complains about lip fillers?

While Kidman and Paltrow dissed Botox, puffy lips can look just as unnatural on-screen.  We applaud Jennifer Garner’s supporting role in “Dallas Buyer’s Club.”  We just wish her lip filler wasn’t so distracting!

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