I recently interviewed a plastic surgeon in Hamburg who has a practice on the Alster, and his white-coated, tanned appearance was flawless. The same couldn’t be said for my face, as the doctor quickly pointed out that he would – hypothetically, if I were to ask – tighten my nasolabial folds, and that my forehead could do with a little injection, adding that I exude exhaustion, which can be quickly eliminated with hyaluronic acid. I hadn’t asked. But now his words were out there and with them the great debate: do you really no longer have to be ashamed when you have something done?
At least that’s the impression you get today from omnipresent dermatologists and billboards advertising surgeons across the city. People celebrating their perfect jawline on Instagram, even colleagues talking about fillers before their first cup of coffee. Much like regular detoxing, Botox talk seems to be very much a part of a fulfilled life. So it’s not surprising that the Association of German Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons recorded a 15 percent increase in treatments in 2022.
In some secret way, these surgeons have managed to reposition these procedures as a symbol of empowerment, proof of self-worth, and even radical self-love. This is hard to argue with because no one wants to deny wanting to be just a little bit happier when they look in the mirror. A friend of mine, normally a hopeless cynic, said the following over a beer recently: “There’s nothing wrong with it anymore. Your body, your choice.” I then counted the wrinkles around my eyes. Didn’t my face look like a strange sort of origami? Was my receding hairline really still not that obvious?
I decided against having these minimally invasive improvements done to my face because I’m more afraid of having to be young again than I am of age. You see, looking like you’re in your late 20s means that you have to behave accordingly.
So while all these infantile old fogeys, all the beautiful and facelifted people and the twentysomethings are rushing off to wild parties, running the next triathlon or capturing their eternal puberty in selfies, I’ll be dozing off over my book with an electric blanket and chamomile tea. A man finally as old as he’s felt for a long time. A testimonial of blackheads, facial grease and eye bags. Believe me: that, too, can be self-love.
Moritz Herrmann is a reporter for Stern. He has won numerous awards for his writing. His aunt once had plastic surgery, back when it was still disreputable. Since then, she has sported the famous Dr. Mang nose at family gatherings and it suits her pretty well.
This article is an excerpt from the new printed edition of 30 Grad. Further content will be published here successively in the coming weeks.