As a bi man, I often feel as though I am living in limbo between two distinct worlds. While those securely locked into the heterosexual or LGBTI community have clear — and often incompatible — societal expectations on how to live, bi individuals have a bit more freedom to choose their own paths. This dual exposure influences numerous aspects of my life as a bi man. However, for this piece, I want to focus on one topic in particular: aging.
Growing up in a small, predominantly heterosexual Midwestern town, my formative years were not filled with many — if any — conversations about Botox, fillers, or other cosmetic treatments. Aging was simply accepted as a lamentable yet unavoidable fact of life, especially in regards to men. As such, cosmetic treatments were not something I had given much thought to before coming out.
Once I embraced my full bi being and integrated with the LGBTI community, I was exposed to an entirely new perspective on aging. From the viewpoint of many individuals within this group, aging is something to be avoided at all costs. Thirty is apparently the new eighty, and starting Botox and other treatments is highly encouraged to avoid any visible signs of growing old.
I find the complexities of the LGBTI perspective on aging and cosmetic treatments to be particularly intriguing. On the one hand, it is empowering to take control of one’s body and mold it into whatever one’s personal version of perfection is. In the LGBTI community, cosmetic and surgical procedures can even be life-affirming and have a significantly positive impact on an individual’s life.
However, in my experience thus far in said community, there is considerable pressure to partake in these procedures outside of an empowering narrative. It is essentially the antithesis of the heterosexual perspective listed above: the expectation is that one should start these procedures at some point in life, the sooner, the better, with little to no discussion.
For example, the first time a member of the LGBTI community suggested I should consider getting Botox, I was 26. Now, at the ripe old age of 28, it is hard to keep track of how many times I have received unsolicited deals, specials, or referrals for Botox and/or fillers from members of this community.
To reiterate what I have already said, I do not take any issue with people choosing this path. It is your body and face and entirely your choice. However, I am concerned that pursuing these procedures is now expected as the norm within the LGBTI community and that we might be losing sight of why we should also consider aging naturally.
In my opinion, growing old is an incredible privilege. Many of us take tomorrow for granted, assured of our invincibility and permanence. However, as someone who has experienced many losses in my life, I know just how quickly the future can change — or be taken away altogether. Not everyone has the chance to grow old, just look at the history of the LGBTI community. I do not want to rob myself of that experience.
That is why I choose to age naturally. I am not afraid to see the subtle lines of my face grow more prominent with each passing year because, to me, these serve as reminders of a life well-lived. I will have laugh lines because I live a life filled with joy and smiles. I will have a prominent crease between my eyebrows because I unconsciously squeeze them together when I am reading or writing. I will have furrows across my forehead, bags under my eyes, and many other "undesirable" characteristics which will irrevocably mark me as an old man. However, I look forward to the day when I can proudly embrace the Gandalf/Dumbledore/Merlin aesthetic and cannot wait to be the quirky old man who shares odd tidbits of wisdom with the younger generations.
Essentially, I view aging as an adventure that every person must experience. You can either embrace the journey and enjoy its ups and downs or fight to freeze yourself in place. I, for one, choose the first option. The idea of being stuck with an unchanging face for my entire life sounds unappealing. I want to be fearless enough to embrace the unknown, to accept my age and the many changes that come with it.
Of course, I am sure there are readers out there scoffing at the idea of a 28-year-old proclaiming that he will abstain from cosmetic procedures as the ravages of time start to show, but I assure you, I am not fickle when it comes to decisions like this. As a bi man, I am regularly exposed to two extremes on this matter: one where aging is accepted and not discussed, the other where age is obsessively scrutinized and a regular topic of discussion.
This exposure has given me plenty of time to consider my options, and I am secure in my choice for the future. All I can say now is that I can’t wait to see where this aging adventure will take me.