CALIFORNIA, United States?While partaking breakfast, I was watching the morning news on MSNBC on July 19 when I noticed the anchor, Tamron Hall, appear visibly startled by what she was reading on her teleprompter.
"An 18-year old actress has just undergone Botox treatment to prepare for her role in the TV series Glee," she reported with a disconcerting look on her face. ?More, after this word from our sponsor,? she said.
After the commercial break, Tamron reported the news that cosmetic surgeon Dr. Vicki Belo had just revealed on Philippine television that singer-actress Charice Pempengco had undergone a 30-minute Thermage skin-tightening procedure and had received Botox injections on her jaw to make her ?naturally round face? more narrow.
Tamron just could not believe what she was reading. Why on earth would an 18-year-old girl subject herself to Botox treatment, she wanted to know. What is this world coming to?
Tamron?s jaw-dropping reaction to this news was not unique. Throughout the day, I read similar ?sign of the apocalypse? commentaries in New York Magazine, CNN, People, Us Weekly, Associated Press, and dozens of blogs. ?SICK!!? celebrity blogger Perez Hilton wrote. ?Who the eff would do that to an effing teenager in good conscience?!?
?She's already a successful singer, having received a major career boost from appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show,? Hilton wrote, ?but Charice?who, it bears repeating, is 18 years old!?feels enough pressure from Hollywood to have undergone a skin-tightening procedure last week, along with Botox meant to make her face look rounder.?
To explain why she would undergo such cosmetic treatment, Charice told a Manila reporter before the Botox treatment about the pressures of appearing as a regular on a weekly TV series: "All people will be anticipating how will Charice look? Is she good enough to pit against Rachel Berry? So of course there is tremendous pressure," she said.
According to one news report from Manila, Charice had originally made an appointment to see Dr. Belo about removing some pimples on her face but when Dr. Belo saw her, she told Charice that her face had gotten fatter. ?Excessive gum chewing? was the cause.
?You chew gum and it turns out to be a favorite super-exercise for these muscles, your chewing muscles. So we will show you, this muscle here it?s a bit protruding,? Dr. Belo explained in her Manila TV show that showed Charice?s live treatment. ?It?s like a ball, so we are going to Botox that in order to get it flat so she will have a cuter face. We want to give you the apple cheek look because it?s cute, right??
When the negative press reaction to the Botox treatment reached Charice?s American publicist, she was quick to insist that the Botox was ?absolutely not cosmetic? but a treatment for muscle pain in her jaw, she said.
Too late. By then, thousands of people had already posted comments in various blogs and websites chiding Charice and expressing concern that teenagers would imitate her and ask for Botox treatment for any problems they see on their faces.
Plastic surgeons like Dr. Milind Ambe of Newport Beach, California, went on the air to ridicule the notion of injecting Botox on teens. ?Vicki Belo is delusional and she is making preposterous statements,? Dr. Ambe said. ?I have never heard of such ludicrous treatments for such a young patient, especially for these reasons. There is no basis for these types of treatments being given to this young entertainer, and her surgeon is leading her down the path of no return.?
Dermatologist Dr. Seth Forman of Tampa, Florida, also said that the idea of a teen actress getting Botox and Thermage treatments is ridiculous. ?Teenagers should not receive Botox or any other anti-aging cosmetic procedures,? he said. ?While some of these procedures are semi-permanent, teen patients are doing more harm than good getting facial injections at a young age.?
If these negative commentaries result in Charice's humiliation in Hollywood and being forever identified as "Botox girl Charice," the blame for this unmitigated PR disaster should be levelled at Dr. Belo who exploited Charice?s trust and only considered the commercial bonanza for her medical clinics.
It would be an unfortunate end to the promising career of the Filipina whom Oprah Winfrey once dubbed as ?The Most Talented Girl in the World.? Charice doesn?t need a new face, she needs new advisers to warn her against the health dangers of Botox and Thermage and the career risks that taking such ill-advised treatments will cause.
But Charice is young and spunky enough that she should be able to survive this negative experience.
As for Dr. Belo, in virtually the same week that she announced Charice?s Botox treatment to the world, she also disclosed that she was reuniting with her former lover and associate, Dr. Hayden Kho, who is 24 years her junior and who is facing criminal charges for videotaping his sexual trysts with Manila starlets and posting them on youtube. Kho has been stripped of his medical license.Send comments to Rodel50@aol.com or mail them to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 or call 415.334-7800.