My daughters rolled their eyes, saying in unison, “Everyone has it now, Mum.” Lucy then reeled off the names of her various friends who’d had fillers, too.
I harked back to those words a couple of weeks later, when my husband and I desperately tried to understand why she’d done the same. Lucy had given no hint of her plans, dipping into her savings to cover the cost before hiding out at her boyfriend’s place while the initial bruising went down.
Back home, she skulked in her room while her sister acted as advocate, telling me what Lucy had done, pleading with me not to be angry. I’m not a shouter, but my god, I let rip when I saw those comically inflated lips for the first time. I don’t normally insult my kids, but that day I told Lucy she looked like a trout.
“She must have low self-esteem,” my appalled husband said later, but without any conviction. After all, this is a girl who walks naked into the TV room, looking for someone to slather fake tan on her back.
“That’s not it,” I snapped. “It’s that her generation sees this kind of thing as routine, like colouring their hair.”
It took a fortnight for me to be able to sit down calmly with Lucy and talk things through. She told me she’d gone to a reputable clinic, as though that made it okay. And added that she’d be going back regularly to get them topped up, whether I liked it or not.
“I like them; it’s my body, my choice,” she insisted. How the hell do you fight an argument like that?
Yet, 10 months on, I still try, pointing out that programs like Love Island have normalised these procedures and explaining my fears that a bit of filler here will lead to some Botox there until, before she knows it, she’s getting her boobs done. But she doesn’t listen.
Only last night I noticed a couple of new telltale puncture marks on her top lip. “This breaks my heart,” I told her, pointing at her mouth. Which is the truth. And it’s also all I have left to say on a matter she’s determined not to back down on – and which I seem to have no influence over at all.
*Name has been changed.
Edited version of a story first published in Stella Magazine, The Sunday Telegraph (UK).
This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale August 4.