Cosmetic nurse practitioner, Anita East, has performed more than 18,000 non-surgical cosmetic facial enhancements for clients across Australia. Despite working in an industry that largely encourages women and men to change their appearance, East’s approach is different.
To explore this, East has written a new book called Beautiful Unique Faces — a guide to help you identify and embrace your Unique Facial Feature, which makes you individually beautiful.
East encourages using cosmetic procedures as a way to enhance your features, rather than detracting from what makes you beautiful. When it comes to these procedures, East notes the role social media has played in normalising and even encouraging the use of injectables to change your face.
“Social media has played a massive role in the normalisation of cosmetic enhancements, as young women share their procedures online,” East told The Latch. “While Botulinum Toxin and cosmetic injectables aren’t new, the availability, price points and the relentlessness of Instagram has given women across the world a skewed idea of what’s both aspirational and attainable in facial beauty.
“Patients come to see me with images of influencers or those who they follow on social media, looking to change their faces to match the pictures because that is what their social media feed has told them will make them beautiful and happy.
“But none of these pictures are actually real, they are heavily filtered. This leaves people aspiring to be like human beings that don’t even exist and this is the influencer curse.”
To combat this phenomenon, East has a number of tools she employs with herself, her daughters and her patients to make sure the reasoning behind the procedures are about enhancement rather than perfection.
“Perfection isn’t the answer to happiness, but the enemy of it,” East said. “The pursuit of perfection removes any ability to be vulnerable and vulnerability is what allows us to feel connection with others and with ourselves.”
The Latch recently spoke to East about her career as a cosmetic nurse, her new book and how you can identity your Unique Facial Feature.
Alexandra McCarthy: Hi Anita! Can you please tell me a little bit about your career as a cosmetic nurse?
Anita East: I’m the CEO of Anita East Medispa, a clinic specialising in non-surgical cosmetic medicine. I’ve performed more than 18,000 non-surgical cosmetic facial enhancements for clients throughout Australia.
I hold a BSc, MA and MSN and have a broad professional background as a Registered Nurse. Having gained extensive expertise in the field of Cosmetic Medicine and satisfying the requirements of advanced practice in my specialty field, this makes me Brisbane’s first Cosmetic Nurse Practitioner. This qualification gives me the same prescribing rights as a medical doctor in the speciality field of practice of aesthetic medicine.
During my two masters degrees, I majored in the medical research component dedicated to our human ability to ‘think ourselves into a way of feeling’. I utilise this research to inform the holistic approach at the Anita East Medispa.
As a thought leader and resident writer for The Cosmetic Surgery Magazine, I am often called upon to present at meetings on Cosmetic Medicine throughout Australia and internationally.
AM: What are some of the most common procedures people undergo when it comes to cosmetic surgery?
AE: Data on cosmetic surgery procedure is not routinely collected in Australia and as such it is hard to speak to the exact number and types of procedures performed here.
However, in my experience and in my clinic the most common procedures women undergo are anti-wrinkle injections most commonly to smooth away the wrinkles and lines in their frown, forehead and crows feet area, although it can be used in other areas of the face too. Dermal fillers most commonly used in the lips, mouth frown and lower face, cheeks and mid-face and eye rejuvenation and tear troughs.
AM: What inspired you to write Beautiful Unique Faces? Can you tell me a little bit about the book?
AE: It actually all started 16 years ago on a film set. I was in the hair and makeup department and overheard a really tense conversation between the film director and the head makeup artist. The lead actress had turned up on the first day of the shoot with an over-frozen face and pumped up lips, meaning she couldn’t actually portray what her character was supposed to portray in this film.
Frozen faces can’t connect to others. It was so sad to see that she’d done something that she’d probably regret for the rest of her life but she’d done it because she thought that was the only way she could make herself look better for this big film. It was on that day that I vowed that I was going to start looking at how to make cosmetic injectables look natural, subtle and still beautiful but not overdone.
From there, the 80 patients that I see every week, the men and women that I speak to, they continue to ask me what’s going on, why are we doing it to ourselves. We are a society in crisis. Women and girls obsessed with perfected facial features which they believe can be chosen like picking ingredients for their smoothie.
I can’t sleep at night, knowing the stuff I know and not doing my very best to make the world a safer and more accepting place for my two darling daughters. I’ll continue to fight the good fight to ensure that my daughters and yours don’t succumb to the social epidemic of the Pretty Ugly Face. So, I decided we needed to look at this and examine why and that’s a big part of my book Beautiful Unique Faces.
Beautiful Unique Faces cuts through the noise in our heads to get to the truth of our beauty. Thanks to increasing pressure to look beautiful from social media, influencers, friends, society and even our own self-expectations, people all around the world are in the stranglehold of a sickening mental health crisis.
In my book, I reveal the frightening changes I’ve witnessed in demands for cosmetic enhancements from within the treatment room. I also explain how you can find and appreciate your Unique Facial Feature as well as how to avoid becoming another Pretty Ugly Face.
AM: How has social media changed our relationship with beauty and what we consider to be beautiful?
AE: Social media has played a massive role in the normalisation of cosmetic enhancements, as young women share their procedures online. While Botulinum Toxin and cosmetic injectables aren’t new, the availability, price points and the relentlessness of Instagram has given women across the world a skewed idea of what’s both aspirational and attainable in facial beauty.
Social media shows us the over glamorised lives of the picture perfects, which let me remind you is not real. They are literally paid to tell us that a product or a service that they’ve had has made them the happiest they’ve ever been in their lives, even if it is a lie.
You know that awful feeling of inadequacy you get when you look at someone else’s social media page and in no time intrigue turns to that familiar sense of overwhelm. The more you pry into their lives, the more it highlights your own imperfections and shortcomings and before you know it not only have you lost a massive chunk of time but you’ve also lost your self-love and any shred of self-worth you had. But this feeling can be addictive, you can’t stop looking at these pages, the pages of the people who make you feel so bad.
Patients come to see me with images of influencers or those who they follow on social media, looking to change their faces to match the pictures because that is what their social media feed has told them will make them beautiful and happy. But none of these pictures are actually real, they are heavily filtered. This leaves people aspiring to be like human beings that don’t even exist and this is the influencer curse.
AM: How can one identify their Unique Facial Feature? What’s the first step to take in embracing this?
AE: Discovering and understanding your Unique Facial Feature is by far the most positive influence any woman can have on identifying and revelling in her Unique Beauty. Your Unique Facial Feature is your lead actor, all other features on your face are supporting actors. If all of your features are lead actors, it’s too busy, it’s too loud.
You may not know what your Unique Facial Feature is, most of us don’t and rather than asking someone else, think about you in your early- to mid-twenties. What did people compliment you on? Was it your cute chin? Your beautiful lips? Your sweet nose? Or your gorgeous cheeks? That is your Unique Facial Feature.
If you have been overtreated you may have more than one Unique Facial Feature and despite thinking having more than one is a good thing, it definitely isn’t. Having multiple Unique Facial Features means you lose focus on what is so special about you. It causes confusion, where do I look, what do I focus on, how would I describe that person to another, there is too much going on, no nuances, no intricate little beauties, so we lose interest.
Treatments should enhance your Unique Facial Feature rather than creating multiple. They can help you to remember your true beauty and retain your uniqueness.
AM: How do you approach self-love and what can others to do learn to love themselves?
AE: Perfection isn’t the answer to happiness, but the enemy of it. The pursuit of perfection removes any ability to be vulnerable and vulnerability is what allows us to feel connection with others and with ourselves.
My top three tips to help you recognise and embrace your Unique Beauty are:
- Learn my ‘Inner Power Practice’ — A specific and simple routine that I designed to help myself with my own self-love. My ‘Inner Power Practice’ is what keeps me from getting sucked into the rabbit hole of comparison and self-loathing that, like all women at times, threatens to consume me. The great thing about the ‘Inner Power Practice’ is that once you know it, you can do it anywhere and at any time and no one will ever know.
- Pause social media — When you’re feeling overwhelmed by comparing yourself to others and you get that ‘icky’ feeling in your heart, turn off social media and look outside at the real world. Find a window and simply look outside or better still, get outside.
- Unfollow — If you’ve taken a break from social media but still feel unworthy, unfollow anyone who regularly makes you feel this way. Find people who make you feel joy in your heart. Be with them, call them or follow them instead. Observe the change that replacing this person in your life, makes on your self-love and self-worth.
AM: If women or men are interested in cosmetic procedures, what is one piece of advice you would give them before they undergo anything?
AE: If you can answer yes to any of the following statements then you’re not doing it for the right reasons:
- My friends have it done and they tell me that I need to have it done
- When the influencers I follow on social media have their treatments done they look so happy and I want to be happy like them so I should get it done too
- I think it will make me happy
- My partner said I should get it done
- I feel like I’m missing out if I don’t have it done
- There is a clinic having a great deal and I don’t want to miss out
- How about I have a botox party? If my friends get enough treatments done then I can get my lips done for free
Interestingly none of those statements seems too barbaric, but they are not a reason to get cosmetic injectables done. If you are going to have a treatment done, here are some tips about empowering yourself for the next steps.
- Seek out qualified practitioners (ensure they are registered with AHPRA) and have a thorough consultation
- Be involved and ask questions to the practitioner. For example, “Show me where you’re going to inject?”
- Do your own research and don’t be sucked into add-ons. For example, “You should get this done while you’re here because there’s a special on”.
- And ultimately, the best thing is to satisfy all of the above steps AND find a practitioner who can identify your Unique Facial Feature and describe how the treatment they recommend will enhance it and not detract from it.
Shop Beautiful Unique Faces by Anita East via Booktopia.