The extra nipple
Recently, I noticed a dark spot on my chest; I didn’t like the way it looked so I showed it to my husband for further inspection. He looked and touched, then gave me his educated guess that in his opinion it was nothing more than an extra nipple that I had suddenly developed on my chest. Joking aside, I decided to make an appointment with a dermatologist for further investigation, and this is how my decline into the dark foray of age-delaying treatment began all over again.
When I stepped inside the office, the spot on my chest was preying heavily on my mind until I noticed my surroundings. It didn’t feel like a doctor’s office and more like a high-class salon or spa. Those familiar words jumped at me from everywhere around the room: injections to reduce lip lines, bunny lines, frown lines, crow’s feet, and one I had never noticed before, earlobe rejuvenation! Thoughts about melanoma were instantly replaced by posters that introduced rejuvenation treatments of all sorts. The shelves on the walls were stocked with the latest array of creams for hair, nails and skin with a heavy emphasis on wrinkle preventing elixirs. Were those products speaking to me, were they trying to tell me that I was in need of some improvement? I was forced to think about my forehead and my love/hate relationship with that part of my face; the two frown lines and horizontal lines deeply etched across my forehead. Surely, I could step out of that office and leave those terrible lines behind—yes today—this minute, if I just say yes. This little silent exchange in my head probably lasted no more than a few seconds before I heard a voice from the front desk asking me kindly to check in.
I looked at the women beyond the desk and they looked absolutely flawless, each and every one of them had glowing, smooth skin, and after signing my name and waiting for them to return my insurance card I slumped into a chair and awaited my turn. I couldn’t get over the women behind the desk and the wonderful quality of their skin. Perhaps one of the perks of working for a dermatologist was getting the latest treatments; after all, they were the first contact a patient would have once entering the office and a great way of advertising product. But why was I even thinking about this sort of thing? I had written so much material about the very subject matter, about the need to embrace one’s look at any age, and most importantly how to age with grace. Why were my own looks of such great concern to me all of a sudden, when the entire purpose of my visit was to check out that suspiciously dark spot on my chest, and rule out anything seriously wrong with me?
I didn’t have to wait long, they called my name and a minute later I found myself seated in a comfortable, black examination chair in the center of the room. I looked to my left where, again, there appeared pamphlet after pamphlet introducing yet another treatment, and a few larger posters advertising the latest laser options for beautiful, unwrinkled skin. I got up and grabbed a few pamphlets and shoved them into my little purse as though I were a thief, but in this instance I was trying to hide my motives. Should I get it over with for once and for all? That question kept nagging me over and over again. What if I just agreed to a little Botox today? Within a couple of days all the lines that I’ve hated on my forehead would magically disappear, albeit at a high cost, and then I will look just as youthful as the rest of the mothers who picked up their first-graders from school. Should I do it for the sake of my 7-year-old son? After all, I am the oldest mother at my son’s school. When the other mothers reach my current age of 47, their first-grader would’ve already finished college. I would do this for Jack’s sake; he deserves to have a youthful looking mother! Then the doctor stepped in and I was in total shock; he too looked so perfect, so smooth, and his biceps—wow.
I showed him my spot and he suggested a biopsy, he reclined the chair, cleaned the area and scraped the entire spot off my chest. “Anything else?” he inquired politely, and there it was, I had my chance to say “yes doctor, could you make me as youthful and perfect as you are?” But I chickened out, shook my head, and he bade me farewell and stepped out the door. With a heavy step, I walked over to the check-out desk and took one more cursory look at the girls, it was undeniable, their skin was amazing. In the car I looked at my forehead and sighed heavily. I’ve been there before, many times before. I’ve sat in those offices, had Botox treatments and looked at other women around me who had become slaves to their looks. I have seen firsthand how ridiculous some women look when using these treatments after a certain age, regardless of the smooth skin, it just looks out of place and plain awful. I reached the conclusion many years ago that it was not worth my while to continuously pursue a youthful look, because it was distracting and costly, and most importantly it never ever ends. But how quickly I had fallen into that bottomless pit, the one that dictates to you that there’s something wrong with your looks if you don’t adhere to a certain standard of beauty—that beauty is marked by youth, and by the notion that smooth skin equates to beauty, and anything else falls short of that description. I threw those pamphlets on the floor of my car and decided that I’d stick to my motto, regardless of how terrible I felt in that office, surrounded by what I perceived, for a brief moment, as flawless beauty.
A week later I was told that the biopsy result was negative. Great, what a relief, however, I now have an ugly scar on my chest that my husband continuously confuses with my real nipple. I think he’s due for an eye exam.
“Oh, so does this mean that I should get rid of those line around my eyes? And what about my lips, are they too thin?”