A good friend of mine recently told me about a bougie lesbian botox party that takes place in a stunning private residence in lower Manhattan.
“The doctor provides Champagne and a beautiful arrangement of food. It’s really quite lovely,” she cooed, “and he’s good too. Look at how young I look!”
She did look young. It looked as if years had been removed from her face. Suddenly, I felt an irrational sweep of anger wash over the entirety of my being.
“Why the hell didn’t I get invited?” I asked as I sucked back the remains of my vodka soda.
“I’m sure you can come next time.”
A proverbial lightbulb appeared over my head and lit up, shining its harsh fluorescent beams right onto the “superior temporal gyrus” (the part of the brain that’s responsible for new, sparkly ideas).
“That would be a great story for my Lesbian Social Diary Column! Holy shit, that would surely go viral. Who wouldn’t want to read about a top secret lesbian botox party? It’s straight out of Lesbian ‘Sex And The City!‘” I gasped.
“Uh, Zara, you’re going to have to ask the host permission before you write that story. You understand?” my friend arched her (micro-bladed) eyebrows in concern.
“Reveal her identity and I will,” I huffed, stamping out a metaphorical cigarette with my black leather motorcycle boots.
After mild coercion, my dear friend did reveal the host’s identity. Naturally, I knew the host. Several weeks later, I asked said host for her permission to write the story for GO Magazine over drinks at Stonewall. “Yeah, totally,” she purred, sipping out of a silver cup that held court to her Moscow Mule. “Make it anonymous, but not too anonymous,” she said as a wicked grin made its way across her face.
“Got it. When is the next one?” I asked eagerly. It was the nearing the end of the year and I was thirsty for *new* content.
She scrolled through her iPhone. “February,” she answered, shoving her phone back into her pocket.
“I’ll be there,” I whispered cryptically as I tiptoed back into the crowd of sweaty, shirtless gay boys with abs cut from steel wildly thrashing their bodies around the dance floor.
Well, don’t you worry, babes, because your lesbian big sister (me) will most definitely be first in line at the botox party. And she will most definitely be getting her weathered forehead injected with needles (for the first time) and she will most definitely be spilling the botox party tea for her curious kittens (you).
However, in the meantime, I decided to embark on a special holiday beauty adventure. February felt years away and hearing about this glam botox party had sparked a burning desire for a juicy beauty story.
“Hmm, what I can do that is more than eyelash extensions but less than plastic surgery that isn’t botox since I’ll be covering that next month?” I asked my fiancée, Meghan, as I twirled a lock of my 22-inch hair weave around my finger.
“Hmm. Not sure,” Meghan said, her eyes glazing over because she loathes the topic of beauty.
“I want fuller lips. I want lip injections!” I chirped excitedly as I sprung up from the couch and began to purse my lips in front of the gold-gilded mirror in our living room.
“You don’t need fuller lips,” Meghan rolled her seafoam colored eyes, stretched out her arms, and sighed to herself.
I whipped my head around and stared at her. “I know I don’t need fuller lips. I want fuller lips. And as an independent woman, I can augment whatever I want, whenever I want.”
“OK. I get it. No need to get on the soapbox. I support you in however you wish to express yourself,” Meghan said, laughing.
I smiled confidently. The following morning, I booked an appointment with the Owner/Spa Director/Master Injector at The Laser Lounge Spa Sarasota, Jeff Goldstein, who had been highly recommended to me by a bevvy of natural looking babes who like their low-key injections (I won’t name names, dahling).
The next thing I know, I’m in the beautiful Laser Lounge and Spa, which for the record, (and I’m not saying this to be ass-kissey, I’m spitting truth here, honey!) is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen that does lasers, injections, and such. I feel like I’m in a plush home in Palm Springs, not in a sterile doctor’s office. Since I’m a Taurus, I’m ~calmed~ by pretty things, and I am wildly relaxed for a girl who is about to have needles thrust into her lips all in the name of beauty! There is even a live guitar player strumming a tranquil tune (I’m not dramatizing!) in the waiting area.
Goldstein and the rest of the lovely team lead me into a private room.
Goldstein says that the secret to natural looking lips is by not going too big if you have tiny lips. In other words, don’t ask for Brigitte Bardot lips if your lips are on the smaller side.
“Lips come in all sizes and some clients are just born with a great lip platform,” Goldstein says (for the record, he mentions that I have a “great platform” which I’ll hold on to for the rest of my life). “I get many clients who come in with small lips and show me pictures of celebrities who have large lips. These clients, unfortunately, will likely never have a ‘natural’ looking larger set of lips. As I add filler to the lips, the lips turn back and the more I add, the more they turn. So ultimately, if we try to make a smaller set of lips larger, they can appear unnatural and ‘fishy.’ For these clients, I tend to use a little Botox to help turn the lips back and fill them just enough to enhance the natural beauty. Clients who have a natural medium or larger lip size are so much fun! We can keep them slightly filled and they always look great or really fill them and they really enhance the whole look. They typically always look natural!”
I show Goldstein a picture of Lana Del Rey as my “ideal lip” and he smiles and says he’ll use Juvederm XC ultra plus to get the “full” lip I oh so desire.
He also says he’s going to use a dental block to stave off the pain because it’s “not fun” to perform lip augmentation when the client is hurting.
Suddenly, it’s needle time, babe. I brace myself for the soul-scorching torture I’ve read about in books. I don’t ask for “the numbing cream” because I’m too shy and Goldstein fiercely claims the dental block will do the trick. I’m secretly unconvinced. My heart begins to beat outside of its chest.
The needle hits my lips. And kittens, I kid you not: All I feel is a few tiny pricks. I am completely numb.
It isn’t painful in the slightest, and I’m pretty wimpy. Once I realize pain isn’t an issue, I relax and enjoy the process. I’m impressed at what an art fillers are. Goldstein takes his time, like he’s hyper-concentrating, shaping my lips like a sculpture with his hands between each injection.
“Lip fillers are definitely an art and the probably the most difficult filler of them all. First, it’s very important to know exactly what the client is wanting. If a client is expecting a large set of lips and come in with small lips, I make sure to let them know this. I ask for pictures and examine the lips to make sure we can achieve there goal.” Goldstein tells me when I ask if it’s OK to go to “just anyone” for lip fillers (Groupon, girls, beware!).
After what felt like fifteen minutes, we were totally done! It was the easiest fifteen-minutes of my life. All I did was lay there in my long, floral dress and listen to the sweet music serenading me in the background as I basked in the artistry of Goldstein. Sigh. If only all days were so easy.
Upon completion, Goldstein held a mirror up to my face and I must say, I was thrilled with the results.
Even my mother, who is not easily impressed as she’s had access to the best beauty services to ever exist, was shell-shocked. “They look fab, babe!” she said. Mother’s approval was all I needed. I felt elated.
Goldstein explained to me that “every client is different as far as how often they need to redo them. Some clients metabolize the filler quicker than others” but most clients will “do lip fillers once a year to keep them up. Some clients will come in every 6 months.”
I asked Goldstein if it will be noticeable when kissing, as Meghan was coming to visit me in Sarasota in two days. “The goal is for the lips to feel plump and look plump. Lips with filler should feel natural especially with kissing and other things… After the injections, the lips may feel a little tight, which resolves in a couple days. The person you’re kissing is going to love the feeling!” (For the record, he’s right. Meghan didn’t notice a thing). Here is a picture of what my lips looked like right after, with a bit of swelling.
Before leaving I learned that the average cost of lip injections definitely varies by location, but where I had them done in Sarasota, FL (a high-flutin’ town, but not as expensive as Manhattan or Palm Beach) the average cost is $550-$600 per syringe and clients “typically get one syringe.”
The Laser Lounge, however, costs only $499 a syringe because they clearly understand that working girls like you and me deserve access to beauty services too.
I also learned that if you don’t like the results of your lip filler, “hyaluronic acid fillers like Juvederm can be dissolved if the client isn’t happy with the results,” However, “not all fillers can be dissolved.” Goldstein reminds me.
I left happy and anticipated waking up with bruised lips in the morning. The next morning, I woke up and looked in the mirror and my lips were a little bit swollen (which I secretly liked), but I was bruise free! And after a few days, the lips settled down and looked natural but beautifully “bee stung” as I had so hoped.
Did people notice? Well, since I pretty much gabbed to everyone this side of the Mississippi that I was getting lip augmentation, the people close to me, all of whom are ruthless and brutally honest, knew and actually threw me compliments (No easy feat).
“They look natural but amazing!” my friend Erica squeaked to me at a New Year’s Day party.
“Um, where did you get your lips done, girl? I want mine done,” My bestie Josh bitchily quipped as we drank Champagne at a dive bar, his words laced with jealousy.
“I’m going to make an appointment, darling,” one of my many British aunties elegantly purred to me on Christmas Day.
“I’m thinking about it too,” my lovely mum added, furiously shaking her blonde head in seriousness.
As for people back in the city, they’ve been telling me I look good, but they can’t seem to figure out what is different. Which is exactly the point, right? To look yourself, just a poutier version of yourself.
So will I do it again? I have two words: Hell. Yes. I won’t die without them and I definitely don’t need them in order to feel confident, but girl…I do enjoy them! And in these dark times, the most radical thing a girl can do is a little something that gives her a sweet spark of enjoyment. Not for her partner. Not for society. But for herself.
And trust me, this one, I did for myself.
Zara Barrie is the Executive Editor of GO Magazine. She’s consumed by style, sexuality, women, words, fashion and feelings. She identifies as a “mascara lesbian” and lives beyond her means in Manhattan. Stalk her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.