February 27, 2024


About 15 years ago, an Australian woman I worked with took me to one side and told me I should get Botox. I was busy building a career as a television presenter and she felt very strongly that, if I wasn’t careful, something would hold me back. “It’s that frown line across the middle of your forehead. It’s kind of distracting,” she said. “It’ll only get worse,” she added. Her tone was neither kind nor unkind. No particular offence was taken.

She was right about one thing: it has got worse. I was barely in my 40s then. The line has since deepened, into first a crevice and then a canyon. Around the time of my 50th birthday, the tops of the canyon sides closed up, turning it into a kind of tunnel, I suppose you’d have to call it. No daylight gets in there unless I physically pull my forehead back. Or I’m very astonished by something. These days – I’m 57 next month – it’s so deep that to clean it properly I need to use a small toothbrush. You’d be amazed what turns up in there.

I read with interest this week research by Humboldt University of Berlin suggesting that people with wrinkles are considered less pleasant and trustworthy than the smoother of skin. How shallow. Disappointing. I wonder what they would make of my frown tunnel.

A loved one tells me I strongly resemble that turbulent Ukrainian general Valerii Zaluzhnyi, on account of our round Slavic heads and, yes, the crevices on our foreheads. Again, none taken. I compared my frown line with his and I think mine is nicer. There’s something odd about his: instead of one long one, like I’ve got, he has two shorter efforts, which look as if they were supposed to meet but somehow lost their way. And they’re off-centre. Mine, though much more deeply distracting, does at least have symmetry going for it.

I’ve always shied away from Botox, but if Zaluzhnyi wants to go for it, I will too.

  • Adrian Chiles is a broadcaster, writer and Guardian columnist

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