Bloodsucking beauty industry

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“Happy Birthday. You’re going to get wrinkles now,” my best friend told me when we were in the sixth grade. She informed me that 12 is the dreaded age when crow’s-feet and lines beneath the lower sets of lashes emerge. She advised that I ought to invest in a daily moisturizer plus night cream to ward off the signs of old age, as she had done even though her birthday wasn’t for another two months.

I followed my friend’s advice. A decade later, I actually bothered to research the ointments I was putting on my skin. These “top” brands were chock-full of animal byproducts, and chemicals were being absorbed into my bloodstream through my skin. Now I opt for healthy, natural options like shea and cocoa butter, aloe vera and coconut oil. However, the best way to defy age is internally through water, nutrients and antioxidants, rather than topical creams.

But many people take beauty much, much further than ointments. Vanity, the ultimate criminal, forces Americans to graciously open their pocketbooks and sacrifice their health. In 2007, 11.7 million aesthetic procedures were performed, ranging from liposuction to Botox, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

After the high-profile death of Donda West, mother of rapper Kanye West, due to complications following a tummy tuck, the chief of plastic surgery at Suburban Hospital, Mark Mausner, told a Washington, D.C., news station that about 200 people die each year from botched plastic surgeries.

Not only are people dying on operating tables during unnecessary procedures, but many health risks that things like Botox may cause are still unknown. On Feb. 8, the FDA released a warning to the “adverse reactions” of Botox, such as respiratory failure and death. This shouldn’t come to any medical professional’s surprise, since it’s a well-known fact that Botox is a highly toxic poison. Despite both the known and still unknown risks, Botox is currently the most popular aesthetic procedure.

Demi Moore recently flew to Australia in search of the fountain of youth, and instead found leech therapy, which she now swears by for detoxification. Leech therapy was a nearly universal treatment until plastic and reconstructive therapy took its place by providing beauty remedies and reattaching severed body parts. With the help of celebrity endorsements, leech therapy could be the new beauty craze. For people who want to participate but are too squeamish to stand having a bloodsucking parasite attached to their skin, British company BioPharm has manufactured mechanical leeches to perform the therapy in place of the live critters.

Leech therapy has a few rare side effects that can be thwarted with a medical observer. Leeches often remove blood better than any modern device, and the anti-clotting enzymes from their saliva increase circulation in the area that they draw blood from. Yet, if you want to relinquish old blood to force your body to make new blood, the Red Cross is always desperate for donations to save other people’s lives.

Animals don’t need to be sacrificed for someone’s beauty. Nor does someone have to risk their life or pay thousands of dollars. The human body is like a garden. It doesn’t need harsh chemicals, but nutrients, water and tender loving care.

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