My Lip Filler Story: Why did I do it? A doctor’s honest answer (Part 1)

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I wanted to look beautiful and I wanted to feel beautiful.

I am standing at the bar in The Gallery in West Hampstead, gazing up at a 6-foot 2 man I’ve been getting to know lately, the cubes of ice clinking away in my gin and tonic, our eyes sparkling even more. The manager knows me here, and often takes on my late night requests to play Tyrone by Erykah Badu. My date is staring at me a little seriously though. Is he going to try and kiss me or has he just noticed I have had my lips done?

As a woman now approaching her late thirties, I have started to feel a little old. More self-deprecating age related jokes have been creeping into my repertoire than I care to admit (I am Scottish and self-deprecating at the best of times). Ten years ago, the thought of any type of “plastic surgery” balked me, I deemed it vapid and superficial.

Last month, I decided to get 1ml of lip filler injected mainly into my upper lip. And I am really glad I did.

The pandemic was a brutal lesson in perspective. I watched patients die and I lost my 67-year-old uncle to it. Grief cuts a lot deeper when you are isolated. Suddenly there was no access to the things that made me feel like me. No blonde highlights, no gyms, no hugs from friends. I had moved into my Fila trainers. Over the two lockdowns, my brain was constantly unravelling an existential crisis. I was suffering badly with clinical depression, staring at a ceiling when I wasn’t at work, unable to answer my phone. My GP prescribed me Sertraline. I used to avoid looking at mirrors to catch sight of myself. I have never felt in such bad shape.

I was one of many. Surveys during the pandemic report the number of adults suffering with anxiety and depression in the UK doubled, with women more likely to suffer than men. I sought therapy, took the train home to Glasgow as much as I could to hang onto the familiar warm comfort blanket that is family life but it took me a while to really bounce back and feel normal. Would I ever find normality in life again?

Getting my lips done has been one of the many ways I have tried to exercise self-love. Not for a man’s attention, not to be accepted by western society, but just to feel like me again. The concept of self-care has never been more talked about in casual conversation. Women want to make smart informed decisions about their bodies and they want to be able to talk about this with their peers without fear of judgement. Yet in some parts of the world, a woman’s right for a safe abortion (Roe vs Wade) has been taken back. There has never been a more important time to celebrate a woman’s right to choose what she does to her body. A positive body image feels like one of the strongest shields a woman can wear. We know this starts with conversations we have with each other.

Back to the tall man at the bar in The Gallery. He looked at me with piercing intent and said, hey you look really happy today. I turned away, trying to hide my smile. Glad you didn’t try to kiss me. I don’t do PDA’s.

- Dr Nehmat Singh 
  IG: @nehmat85

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