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Dec 11, 2023

(No. It's not.)

It’s 1983 and our heroine, an ophthalmologist, is treating a patient with a condition called blepharospasm, a painful neurological disorder that causes involuntary muscle spasms and contractions of the eyelid. After administering a neuromodulator to the affected muscles, a procedure she had performed with her patient many times before, her patient was unhappy. Angry, in fact: the doctor had neglected to treat the area between her eyebrows. 

Apologizing, our doctor explained, “I’m sorry but I didn’t think you were spasming there.” The impatient patient retorted, “I know. I’m not spasming there, but every time you treat me there I get this beautiful untroubled expression.”

This is how Dr. Jean Carruthers pioneered the cosmetic use of Botulinum Toxin, and thus Botox was born... and the "Discourse" has been ambivalent about its ubiquity ever since. 

Either Botox is anti-feminist because, as one writer for the Washington Post put it, “Every choice to conform to sexist social norms makes it harder for other women to choose otherwise. Every woman who has plastic surgery or Botox or gets her hair dyed or, yes, changes her name makes it harder for other women not to.” 

Or…  Botox is just like any other decision women make about their bodies and appearance: an ongoing practice in agency and self-determination that is most competently observed through the lens of Women Making Personal Choices rather than Women Being Personally Responsible for Upending Centuries of Oppression.


Atefeh Velayati, Shahideh Jahanian Sadatmahalleh, Saeideh Ziaei & Anoshirvan Kazemnejad (2019) Can Botox Offer Help Women With Vaginismus? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, International Journal of Sexual Health, 31:3, 233-243,

Carruthers, Dr. Jean. “Beneath the Surface of Botox.” TEDx Vancouver 2012.

Cohen, Kate. “Sorry, but these choices aren’t ‘feminist.’ They’re sexist.” Washington Post. 8/17/2022.

Cook, P. S., & Dwyer, A. (2017). No longer raising eyebrows: The contexts and domestication of Botox as a mundane medical and cultural artefact. Journal of Consumer Culture, 17(3), 887-909.

Nigam, P. K., & Nigam, A. (2010). Botulinum toxin. Indian journal of dermatology, 55(1), 8–14.

Scott, A. B., Honeychurch, D., & Brin, M. F. (2023). Early development history of Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA). Medicine, 102(S1), e32371.

Singh, C., Dulku, A., Haq, A., Bhatti, T., & Bhatti, A. (2015). Why Do Females Use Botulinum Toxin Injections?. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 8(4), 236–238.

The United States Attorney’s Office. “Las Vegas Doctor and Wife Sentenced to Prison for Botox Fraud Scheme.” March 30, 2009.

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Hypotonia. Wikipedia.


Script by Ela Darling

Hosted by Ela Darling & Sovereign Syre

Produced by Joshua Anderson


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