Desperate for Beauty
Alex Kuczynski started getting botox injections when she was 27 years old. She was a self-proclaimed "botox junkie" for 10 years until a procedure swelled her lips so badly that she couldn't talk. When she left a friend's funeral early to get more work done, she knew she had hit rock bottom. She has since gone cold turkey and written a book about what women do to themselves to achieve an impossible ideal of beauty.
"I wrote my book because Americans suffer from this incredible desire to be perfect: to have the perfect image, the perfect body, the perfect breasts, the perfect nose," says Alex, author of Beauty Junkies. "I want American women and men to understand that perfection is not possible." She shares her knowledge as a critic and guinea pig of the machinations of the $15 billion cosmetic surgery industry with two young women.
Anna answered a fake ad posted by Rachael's staff members calling for volunteers to test a new beauty product. The ad said the product had the potential to completely erase all wrinkles and age spots but carried some risk of blindness and facial or body paralysis. Undeterred, Anna applied for the trial, choosing vanity over her health.
If you think 26 seems too young to be concerned about wrinkles and aging, you're wrong. "Doctors now encourage prophylactic procedures," says Alex. "They really encourage people to start getting things done younger and younger. This is for a number of reasons: It makes them richer earlier and it creates a pipeline of patients. If you start at 26, you're going to be coming back for your whole lifetime."
Aside from no longer getting cosmetic procedures, Alex has stopped dying her hair and wearing nail polish - and she feels better than ever. "I actually feel like I look better than I did when I was worried," she says. So when she meets Christen, who would never dare leave the house without makeup, Alex wants to help.
Alex warns Christen against comparing herself to women in magazines. "98% of the stuff you see in magazine is so re-touched," she says. "There's so much that goes into creating those false images."
When Rachael asks her how she would feel about taking off all her makeup on the show, Christen hesitates. "I think it would be scary," she says. "I wouldn't know what people's reaction would be."
But after Alex agrees to do it with her, and with much encouragement from Rachael, Christen agrees to take off her makeup and come back out to face the world with nothing but moisturizer on her face.
"I actually feel surprisingly good," Christen admits after returning bare-faced.
After complimenting Christen's bravery, Alex points out, "When you're worried about how you look, you're like, 'God, my hair has to be a perfect shade of blonde, my nails have to be perfectly done.' It's a lot of stupid, time-wasting anxiety."
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