Wrinkle 101

Kids at home 8 Aug 04 013 (2)

We all have these types of photo, looking fresh faced and effortlessly young.

I don’t think that you have to be a narcissist if you are one of those people who notices when certain things about your appearance have changed. I’m not saying that looks are the most important things in life, absolutely not, but I do recognize that internal angst that we all go through, at some point during our life, because physical change as we age, is something that we do not readily accept. Why should we, when things were so good before?Ah, to be young; the face looks so plump and fresh, even when you’ve gone to bed at 3:00 a.m. and woken up three hours later to go to work. You can eat whatever you want, and it does not show on the scale, nothing aches, and no body parts have shifted towards the ground–life is just perfect. And then, one day you wake up and you see the change. It’s gradual, but it sticks to its path, and it all begins when you suddenly notice the circles under your eyes, or the beginning of a more pronounced line across the  forehead, or upper lip, or the little creases that form on the sides of your eyes every time you smile, and some of them stick around long after that smile.

You don’t understand why it takes you longer to get ready to go out; why no amount of makeup can cover up that constant tired look on your face, and why you have to work even harder at the gym in order to attain your normal, comfortable weight. Remember that fresh feeling that you would get after showering and dressing up?  It’s gone for good—a thing of the past—nothing but a memory from now on.

Picture 115

It used to be so easy to look good.

At first you may suspect that you’re looking rundown because you are lacking sleep; so you make an overt effort to sleep more. Although this time you need pills to help you fall asleep or remain asleep for that matter. You can’t remember the last time you actually had a full night’s rest. In the event that you actually manage to sleep for more than four-five hours, those extra hours have not really done the trick. You dread looking in the mirror because you don’t recognize that face anymore; you leave your glasses on when someone snaps a photo of you, you have to approve it first before they tag you on Facebook . You can’t believe how you’ve changed. But You find that now it takes you longer to get ready to leave the house because you cannot look fresh without having to apply some sort of cover-up to your face. You sit in front of the computer, and you scroll through photos from years ago—wow, you looked so good, and you didn’t even realize it back then. You look at more recent photos, the ones from last year, and again, you decide that you were not so bad looking at all. You mull over the question of aging for the first time in your life, it’s a foreign concept altogether and one you never considered before, but there you are doing just that, and it all begins to make perfectly good sense.

So this is how it goes; when we are young our body produces a certain amount of protein known to all as collagen and elastin. It’s these very proteins that give the skin that much desired elasticity that we all strive to maintain for as long as possible. The reality, however, is that as we grow older we produce less of these proteins; our skin becomes less oily and looks much drier and fragile.  Our lifestyle is also a mitigating factor in our aging process. Things like smoking, overexposure to ultraviolet light, and my very favorite one—the repeated facial expressions—all contributors to that look that we refuse to recognize. The smoking changes the blood supply to the skin, and as a result it speeds up the aging process. UV rays break down the skin’s connective tissue without which the wrinkles begin to appear, and the reason we get that notorious “saggy” look.  If you are very animated (the Jim Carrey type), then you are overworking your facial muscles, and gradually, as you age those grooves that formed earlier on under your skin form laughing, squinting, and other facial acrobatics, become permanent fixtures on your face.

Why are we so obsessed with these changes in the first place? I know, I said that it’s natural to yearn for what we once had, but there seems to be something of an obsession when it comes to aging these days. A refusal to let the passage of time take any residence on your face, ever. And those who do so, who opt to look their age are viewed upon as lepers. Okay, I’m exaggerating a little, but I strongly believe that until we, in the West, learn to appreciate beauty in every age group and during every stage, then forever we will be devoid of real beauty.

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One Response to: Wrinkle 101

Commented:  August 12, 2009 at 9:22 pm()

I appreciate that from a very young age I’ve been made aware of the risks involved with overexposure to the sun. I’m thankful that my mother used to force me to use sunblock. Sometimes before PE kids would make fun of me for going out of my way to apply sunscreen. Let’s see what they look like in 30 years time.

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