Breaking down barriers around women, aesthetics and the pressure to ‘look young’

breaking down barriers around aesthetics

‘Telling women they should be happy with the way they look isn’t empowerment, it’s suppression’ – we hear from dental surgeon, facial aesthetics clinician and women’s advocate Dr Jaskaren Midha.

After qualifying as a dentist in 2009 from Leeds University, Dr Jaskaren Midha transitioned to practising full-time facial aesthetics some seven and half years ago.

‘I moved because it let me combine my passion for the science of anatomy with beauty and helping people to feel and look great,’ she says.

Dentists, she says, are in a unique position because when patients receive cosmetic work in particular, it gives them a chance to examine the face as a whole.

And frequently when people have had dental work, such as Invisalign treatment or whitening, it can break down the barriers and they then go on to seek other facial aesthetic treatments. ‘For instance, when they have Invisalign treatment, it slightly plumps out their lips, so when they finish their alignment they tell me they feel like they’ve “lost their lips”.

‘Even having something simple like tooth whitening will prompt compliments, which then give them the confidence to consider treatment for a deep line around their mouth that’s been bothering them for a long time,’ she adds.

Dr Midha’s work brings her into contact with women from all walks of life who seek treatment for numerous different reasons, and she stresses that many feel under pressure – perhaps more today than in previous eras, to remain young looking. ‘I think the goal posts have changed and we’re expected to look a certain way for a lot longer,’ she adds.

Negative comments

She is speaking following the publication of MaiLi My Power’s revealing survey. It questioned 10,000 women in seven countries – the UK, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and UAE. It found that 97% of respondents believe women face judgement for how they look, 61% have experienced negative comments or abuse about their appearance and 96% believe women are judged for having cosmetic treatments that alter their appearance.

‘The study also found that 90% of women taking part believe they should be able to do whatever they like with their appearance and I 100% agree with that. It’s your body, your life, so you should be able to make decisions without ever feeling bad about them… Society tries to dictate to us what’s appropriate and what’s not, but if something makes you feel good, then why not?’

Dr Midha acknowledges that times have changed and aesthetic work, such as Botulinum toxin and dermal fillers, is increasingly accepted. But she says in the UK in particular many women still feel the need to keep any facial work a secret for fear of harsh and uninvited judgement.

Feeling guilty

‘I have family in America, Canada and India where people tend to be more open and laid back about aesthetic work… I think they celebrate it a bit more.’

In the UK, however, she adds that patients often tell her they’ve only told one close friend they’re having work and don’t want anyone else to know, plus they feel guilty about having it done at all.

Dr Midha explains that part of the issue might be that treatment is not regulated in the UK as it is in other countries. ‘I’ve had patients tell me they’ve booked a treatment online and arrived at “the clinic” to find they’re being treated in someone’s kitchen!’ she says.

However, while women in the UK might still be reticent about telling friends and family they have had a procedure, they are now much more likely to thoroughly research the treatment, doctor and clinic before going ahead. ‘It’s more empowering to say, “I’ve done my research, I know why I’m going, and I know who I am going to”.’

More confidence

There are still barriers to women being more open about cosmetic work, however. Dr Midha says she has experienced many negative comments under her Instagram before and after posts, often from men.

‘And I still remember a patient who had her lips done. She had a small swelling that only lasted for about a week. But in that time, her husband’s friend told her they looked awful.

‘She came to see me three weeks later and while the swelling had gone and she loved her lips, she was still considering having the filler removed because of that unsolicited comment. I think people say things but don’t release the impact their comments are going to have on that person for a really long time because often people have sought treatment because of an insecurity to begin with.’

She is also keen to point out that not all treatments are purely to reverse the signs of ageing. ‘I had a lady with a cleft lip who was really shy and talked with her hand over her mouth. We did a little lip filler and she said it gave her so much more confidence.’

For Dr Midha, that confidence sits at the heart of what she loves about facial aesthetics. ‘When women come to me, it’s about a feeling. They won’t remember what I’ve said to them, but they’ll remember how I’ve made them feel.’

Dr Midha is an award-winning facial aesthetics clinician and ardent supporter of global aesthetics company, Sinclair’s MaiLi MyPower initiative, which campaigns for women to live without judgement and shame.

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