Botox and face masks
Botox makes it more difficult to communicate with others. I read that somewhere the other day, and I can see that this will probably be true. According to the article, human communication can be very subtle.
Patients that had their face treated with botox, were less able to understand the emotions of others. This is a result of the fact that we interpret emotions of others partially by imitating their facial expressions. By mimicking their facial expression, you are able to understand their inner world. When we can’t do this, as is the case with botox, our insight becomes more blurry. The muscles are a communication device for your feelings. Crow’s feet can express disgust or a sincere smile, frown lines on your forehead may reveal fear, while a frowned eyebrow usually means that you are worried.
The article quotes one of the scientists: “Ironically, people start using botox to improve their communication in social situations. But your social life can be burdened, because you are not able to clearly interpret emotions of others”.
That’s a real vicious circle: someone uses botox and as a result doesn’t have a clear facial expression. The conversational partner doesn’t understand what he or she means, but tries to mimick the facial expression, resulting in an even unclearer expression, which makes it almost impossible for the botox user to understand their meaning at all.
Also, the mimicking of a botox user is very frustrating. The conversational partner unintentionally tries to imitate a wrinkle-free forehead and that is very difficult. Even if I practise in front of a mirror, it takes a lot of effort and I come out looking surprised and unsatisfied at the same time. And what if both conversational partners use botox? Then you really have no idea.
So, if you talk to a botox user, you will give a lot more attention to other parts of the face. I am not a scientist, but the mouth seems to be an important indicator. Visible teeth are good. In combination with an upward movement of the corners of the mouth, usually a sign of happiness. It could also be sarcasm or pure stupidity, but in general I would take it as a positive sign. Usually, it will be enough to bring the conversation a bit further.
These days however, we are in the middle of the Covid crisis and, as you have probably already figured out by now, people need to wear face masks at times. So, what to do? No visible mouth, a wrinkle free forehead and eyes. How on earth do you find out whether a botox user addresses you nicely, sacractically, angry or annoyed? It’s a good thing I am not in the entertainment business or spend a lot of time with Gerard Joling, but still I would like to be prepared in case I need to have a conversation with a botox user in the train or on the plane.
A solution could be that we express our feelings in words a lot more. Dare to address your inner feelings: “I feel very well right now and I am laughing behind my face mask”, or “I really don’t like that remark and I am frowning my forehead”, or “I am going completey ballistic and my mouth is distorted in a grimace of anger”.
However, talking with a face mask is far from ideal. Especially with a super effective thick one that filters all the viruses, it can be difficult for other people to hear you. And not everyone is naturally equipped to express their inner feelings. Especially not when your are insecure, and I expect more than the average of insecure people among the botox users.
And so the Covid crisis unexpectedly hits the botox users and their conversational partners extra hard. Truly all of us will need to keep muddling through for a while..
Stay safe, Tonnie