Updated: Feb 8
I sat down with a board-certified nurse practitioner and medical aesthetic injector, Sorelle Cooper FNP-BC to break down the stigma around injectables.
Injectables are becoming an increasingly common luxury. In 2019 injectables were in the top five minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures.
Communities on social media have certainly contributed to normalizing injectables. In the black community, however, the topic is hardly discussed. In fact, it’s taboo.
Across the country (in 2019) upwards of 11 million procedures were injectables. 10% of them were African American patients.
“It's more prevalent in our communities than we realize, it's just that we’re a little more quiet about it”, said Board Certified Medical Aesthetic Injector, Sorelle Cooper.
So let's uncover the stigma and break down its misconceptions.
Injectables are only needed for aging
The adage goes, “black don’t crack”. There’s an element of pride, that our skin, our melanin, will protect us from aging more than other communities, therefore we don’t need an anti-aging serum. Injectables are beauty treatments, most commonly botox and fillers, that support muscles or plump up the skin. While injectables are used for aging, we are starting to realize that they can be used for facial balancing, contouring, and recessive features.
“We have makeup, we have great skincare, we have hair care products. All these things have been embraced by our community as tools to help us look our best and facial aesthetics is just another tool,” says Cooper.
You have low-self esteem or you’re vain
The overall purpose of injectables is to change one's appearance. As a woman showing interest in injectables, I’ve been met with friends giving affirmations that “you’re beautiful without it”. There’s a leering stigma of poor self-esteem tied to injectables. Filler can be used to give one confidence, but this does not mean they don't have it, to begin with.
“There, I think, is this idea that if you’re spending that kind of money on your face that means that you don’t like something about yourself or that you’re vain,” said Cooper. “We have no problem spending thousands of dollars on our hair, in a heartbeat, but for some reason, there’s this negative connotation about doing the same thing for our face.”
Facial aesthetics does not mean it's being used to fill a void of self-worth. Wanting to change your appearance is common and normal. Like all beauty treatments, it's a refreshing change to your already perfect self.
Injectables aren’t safe
Injectables have been tied to horror stories. We tend to think about the people who've gone wrong or the ones that are overdone. From Michael Jackson to Lil Kim, there isn’t an established trust in our community on the safety of injectables. The best way to avoid being "botched" is to do thorough research. Google/Yelp reviews, Youtube, ask dermatologists, and referrals are all ways to find a good aesthetician. Verify the doctor/aesthetician's credentials by making sure they are licensed and board-certified. Next, plan a visit. Almost every aesthetician offers free to low-cost consultations to get an understanding of your beauty goals. A good doctor will answer all your questions and will never pressure you into getting a procedure that day.
Facial Aesthetics just isn't meant for black people
Moreso, we look at injectables as "trying to be white". This stigma is a reflection of the industry. The facial aesthetics industry just lacks diversity. Cooper is one of only two black aestheticians in her cohort. The demand for injectables is high, but diversity is low which can lead to much hesitation for black folks. Four award-winning aesthetic professionals of color established the Black Aesthetics Advisory Board (BAAB) in 2020, “to positively impact the experience of black patients and professionals within aesthetics”. Cooper says,
“a lot of people want to be seen by people who understand our skin, understand concerns related to our skin and our beauty ”.
Want more advice on injections? Watch my interview with Sorelle Cooper
Sorelle Cooper FNP-BC