It’s 2022. Can we please let go of the toxic ‘beauty is pain’ BS?


“I think this is my fave laser but it’s painful, lol. But still worth it.” I can almost feel that pain as I tap through Kim Kardashian’s Instagram stories and pause on the picture of her laid on a medical bed with a laser gun pointed at her abdomen. From the inflamed, mottled red marks around her stomach it’s clear where the combination of micro pins and burning radiofrequency technology has been focused.

It sounds barbaric and is when you realise Kim Kardashian’s go-to treatment is designed to purposefully injure the skin, causing a natural healing response which in turn promotes the production of new collagen and elastin.

Yes, Kim’s stomach is flatter than a conspiracy theorists view of earth, but why have we not moved on from the notion that beauty = pain?

When I landed my dream assistant job on a magazine, I was taken under the wing of a beauty director who would regularly come into the office either telling us about her side effects of the painful treatments she tried the day before or hiding them under a pair of oversized designer sunglasses – and she’s not alone in her pursuit.

If you thought Kim’s laser looked bad wait until you hear about apitherapy and how, in order to rid her body of inflammation and scarring, Gwyenth Paltrow pays to be stung by bees.

Yes, in the infamous words of Johnny Depp, you read that right.

“I’m open to anything,” she told the New York Times. “I’ve been stung by bees. It’s a thousands of years old treatment called apitherapy. People use it to get rid of inflammation and scarring. It’s actually pretty incredible if you research it. But, man, it’s painful.”

You don’t say, Gwyneth. Do you think I run around my M&S nibbles picnic for a laugh every time a flying insect with a stinger comes to investigate?

But it’s every bit as dangerous as it is ridiculous. In fact, a 55-year-old woman died from undergoing the same bee stinging treatment after having a severe reaction.

Celebrity facialist Toska Husted even praised Jennifer Aniston’s pain threshold, “She’s very results-driven,” she told Pop Sugar when discussing the electrical current facials she performs on the actress.

“Jennifer is the one client who can take it at its highest setting,” Husted said. “Every time she’ll be like, ‘Turn it up, turn it up’”.

While you may have tried an at-home microcurrent device like NuFace at home, it’s a different ball game to the professional ones which deliver much stronger currents of electricity to the face.

How is it that we look back on practices like Chinese foot binding with such horror, but see these modern treatments as such huge innovations?

Think how you felt when you read your Horrible Histories books and discovered that Victorians covered their spots with lead-based makeup that eventually paralysed and killed them. Or when they put deadly nightshade in their eyes to make their pupils bigger, which oh yeah, made them go blind.

Why are we still putting ourselves through unnecessary pain to comply with beauty standards?

Why would you pay hundreds of pounds to go through one hour of excruciating pain for results that a) are dependent on you going through this torture on a regular basis and b) are so discreet, you’ll be hard-pressed to notice them, let alone anyone else.

Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe that makeup and skincare have so many benefits beyond transforming your self-image, but suffering? Why would I want to do that to myself?

Not only are you putting yourself through physical pain but chasing these unobtainable beauty standards set by the 1% who are only in competition with themselves, will damage your mental health as well.

The only thing more painful than these treatments is believing you can achieve an ever-changing Western beauty standard.

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