I have wrinkles

On my forehead. I noticed them this morning. I’ve been particularly stressed lately and also not moisturizing enough, so my reaction was “oh god, wrinkles! Where did those come from? I need to moisturize more! I need to exfoliate more! What am I doing to myself? Why am I so old?”

Of course I yelped about it, and Dan came in from the other room to look. “Oh, those,” he said. Oh, those? How long have I been looking like this? Why didn’t anyone tell me? “Those are genetic,” he said. “Your mom has the exact same ones, and I think your little sister does too.”

Well, sure, so my mom and sister have them. But surely there’s something I did wrong anyway, or I wouldn’t be punished by visible aging — maybe my mom and my sister both do whatever it is I’m doing wrong, maybe I learned it from them. I poked at my forehead and said “I’m probably going to reverse my position on Botox entirely by the time I’m 40.” Dan looked concerned: “It’s a toxin. And would that mean your forehead wouldn’t do that thing when you smile? That would be weird.”

Don’t think I don’t see what’s happening.  Here I am, fretting because my mortality is showing in a way that’s almost entirely controlled by my genes — how my face moves, how my skin holds lines. Fretting because something I can’t control is impinging on my ability to mimic ideals of feminine beauty — which means in my mind that it must somehow be my fault, because it’s a fault of mine that I’m falling down on the job this way. (The job of being beautiful and youthful, that is, which is of course my primary job.) Here I am thinking that I’m almost willing to do something dangerous and drastic, something that would interfere with my ability to look and act like myself, if only I could erase this one instance of looking mortal and human and imperfect. Despite having a happy relationship and a fulfilling job and a firm grasp of feminism and, objectively, relative youth, I stand in front of the bathroom mirror with the weight of patriarchy upon me, wondering what I did to fail so badly in looking like someone who doesn’t exist.

Sound familiar? Tell me again how fear of fat is “all about health.”

92 thoughts on “I have wrinkles

  1. I poked at my forehead and said “I’m probably going to reverse my position on Botox entirely by the time I’m 40.”

    Forget resisting the patriarchy and constructed beauty culture! THEY PUT NEEDLES IN YOUR FACE.

  2. THEY PUT NEEDLES IN YOUR FACE.

    Weirdly, that part doesn’t bother me! The toxin part doesn’t even bother me, because in a sense all medications are toxins. In my particular case I’m only squicked by the constructed beauty culture aspect. But that’s good enough, really.

  3. I’m actually enjoying watching how my face changes as I age. Of course, this could have something to do with the fact that I’ve always looked a lot younger than I am.

    Mr. Twistie recently came across some photographs of us from when we were first dating. I was 23 in those pictures, but he looks like a dirty old man molesting a fourteen-year-old.

    Now that I’m 45, I kind of love my little crow’s feet that tell the world I haven’t been afraid to laugh out loud and the small furrows on my brow that say I haven’t been afraid to cry, either.

    All my life, I’ve looked just like the great-grandmother for whom I was named. I love the fact that I’m going to age the way she did, too. She was an amazing lady who endured a lot in life without losing her sense of humor. I’ve got a photo of her and my great-grandfather at their 50th wedding anniversary…and in another twenty-five years, I’m still going to like how I look. My great-grandmother and I share a face, and it’s a face full of humor and warmth. I wouldn’t mess with that for the world.

  4. fillyjonk: “In my particular case I’m only squicked by the constructed beauty culture aspect. But that’s good enough, really.”

    You know, I wish this were the case for me, but thanks to all the reading I’ve been doing linked to this blog and others, it’s starting to be, so I guess that’s progress. Right?

    But just in case I never get there, my dear sister being permanently damaged by a Botox injection is probably enough to keep me aging naturally.

    As for being made to feel as though it’s something I did wrong… I must have gotten too much sun, right? Like I knew better at 10… Or it’s how I eat or I don’t drink enough water or whatever blathering BS the latest magazine article/beauty cream ad tells me.

    And because it IS my fault, I’d better rectify with some expensive treatments like Botox or lasers or Juvederm, yes? Hmmm… Maybe the right part IS squicking me out!

  5. I’ve started in with the teeny forehead wrinkles, too, but those don’t bother me as much as the gray hair. I’ve said my whole life that I won’t color my hair just to cover gray, but it ‘s looking awfully tempting now…

  6. “I’ve started in with the teeny forehead wrinkles, too, but those don’t bother me as much as the gray hair. I’ve said my whole life that I won’t color my hair just to cover gray, but it ’s looking awfully tempting now…”

    Word. I found six new gray hairs last week (I’m 30). I guess I don’t take after Dad, then, who at just-under-60 still has at least 75% black hair on his head. The white hairs are mostly at the temples, giving him that “distinguished” look. Sigh.

    I’ve got the forehead wrinkles, as well as some around the eyes. No biggie. I did inherit Dad’s oily skin, which means the wrinkles are less obvious. Sure, it also means more pimples on occasion, but I can deal.

    FJ, please do not inject botulinum toxin into your face. That stuff can kill you. NOT worth it.

  7. Oh, FJ. The wrinkles are such a weird thing. I honestly didn’t notice mine until I was at the bar with a medical researcher friend of mine, and he said, “Oh! I totally did implants on nasal [naso?] labial folds today! You would be perfect for that!” Pardon?
    Apparantly, nasal (or naso, whatever) labial folds are the lines that go from your nose around your mouth. In other words, your fucking SMILE lines. I could not believe that women get tiny little tubes implanted there to puff the skin out.

    But, I look at them in the mirror more often than I should, wondering if they are getting worse. Sigh.

  8. Apparantly, nasal (or naso, whatever) labial folds are the lines that go from your nose around your mouth.

    I wish I had been allowed to reach adulthood not knowing this, but insecurity about wrinkles runs in my family. (It’s naso-labial.)

  9. Hmm. I’m almost 30, and my daughter likes the “wavy lines on [my] face.” I can’t wait for grey hair so I can dye without bleaching. And I look like my auntie who didn’t go grey until she was over 40.

    I have a geeky interest in botox, but it’s like pimplesqueezing writ large – interestingly disgusting, and a bad idea.

  10. Gravity’s tugging on your skin every minute of every day. Try to Botox your way out of THAT. ;o)

  11. Here is the ONE thing in which I’ve just never been in the thrall of the beauty ideal. I ADORE my developing laugh lines and crow’s feet. I have such expressive eyes and they add to the overall expressive effect. Plus, I have for various reasons, over and over again, gotten into these dynamics throughout my life wherein I’m treated like a six-year-old who can’t manage her life and needn’t be taken seriously. I LOVE how my teensy wrinkles make me look like a grown-up.

  12. I am 45, and like my siblings I look older than my age. Or maybe we look like people in their 40’s who don’t whiten their teeth or get anything cosmetic done. I don’t know. I do know we generally look older than our peers. I’ve been fat for most of my life and thought it was a hard thing to come to terms with- that I was fat and would always be fat and I should accept it and love myself the way I was- but it was nothing like coming to terms with aging. With looking old and seeing the faces of older female relatives when I looked in a mirror. Women I loved and admired, but sure didn’t want to look OLD like them. Adjusting has been hard. A woman who is gray and wrinkled is invisible. And I don’t mean invisible to being noticed sexually (I don’t really care about that) but invisible period. In our larger culture, once you’re an old woman, there’s nothing exciting or interesting about you anymore.

  13. I’m totally pro gray hair. Since I cut my hair really short it’s very noticeable and I’m like, yes: I’ve worked hard and I’ve been through some shit. I deserve some gray hair to show for it.

  14. Apparantly, nasal (or naso, whatever) labial folds are the lines that go from your nose around your mouth. In other words, your fucking SMILE lines.

    Gah! You know, when FJ was working on drawing my icon, I couldn’t figure out what was not quite right about earlier drafts, but I eventually figured out it was the lack of prominent smile lines, which are such a huge part of what makes my face my face. One of the lines you see there was in her original, but I didn’t see myself in it until she added the other one. (You might also recall that I went apeshit about magazines doing away with Reese Witherspoon’s laugh lines. Drives me nuts.)

  15. The most disturbing thing about my body recently is the discovery that the scarring on my knuckles (relics of a propensity in my youth to express displeasure with the behavior of gentlemen in bars and public houses with a right cross /left hook combination) have completely faded.

    So much of my life has marked my skin, so many stories relate to shiny, puckered, wrinkly patches on my arms, my legs, my torso, my face… having them disappear is like losing my memory.

  16. I LOVE the look of older faces. I did that implicit association test they have via some researchers at harvard, and it seems to be a subliminal thing — that suggested I have some contrarian biases including age and wrinkles. (However, I’m traditionally biased against women in science. Yikes. Rather uncomfortable, that. What with being a woman in science.)

    Anyhow, I recently have been having really really bad migraines. And one of the things that’s a possible is botox to fix the migraines. That freaked me out and I got sort of fear-chirpy at the doc’s — Wait, wait, isn’t there some sort of narcotic solution that would allow me to have facial mobility? Not my wrinkles! I’m sure the doctor thought I was nuts.

    ((We think we MAY have found the source of the migraines, however. So I get to delay the decision.))

  17. And one of the things that’s a possible is botox to fix the migraines.

    Yeah, see, this is why I can’t get a hate on for Botox itself. It gets a lot of slander for being a toxin, but that’s just because it’s a toxin with a longer pedigree than all the other toxins we medicate ourselves with. Botox has legitimate medical uses. I have a problem with using it for cosmetic reasons, but not a problem with Botox qua Botox — just like my distaste for non-emergency cosmetic surgery doesn’t mean I oppose surgery itself.

    Good luck on hunting down the migraine trigger, because all the treatments for migraine — Botox included — are pretty drastic.

    But P.S. none of the stuff about Botox is the point, as I was joking. The point is that fat isn’t the only natural, genetic personal attribute that we associate with shame, fear, and extreme “solutions.”

  18. Arwen, is there any way the botox could be put in above the hairline so it didn’t interfere with your face, but still got to where the migrane is on your head?

    yes: I’ve worked hard and I’ve been through some shit.

    sumac, I am totally stealing that line for if someone mentions the gray.

  19. The point is that fat isn’t the only natural, genetic personal attribute that we associate with shame, fear, and extreme “solutions.”

    Also, that the fear of losing beauty is tied up with the fear of death, both fat-wise and wrinkle-wise — at least, that’s another thing I took from it.

  20. Of course, the scariest thing about the aging is when I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror (not when I’m specifically looking) and realize OMG I LOOK EXACTLY LIKE MY MOTHER. Not that that’s bad, but the martyriffic, put-upon, exasperated face? I totally make that one just like she does.

  21. I’ve been looking at the tiny lines forming on my forehead and under my eyes and around my mouth lately. I’m kind of a wrinkly person – I have those vertical lines on the palm side of my fingers that no everyone has. On the other hand, I think I look young for my age, so I like the added authority a few lines will give me. I just turned 31, which sounds way older to me than I actually feel I have any right to be.

    I think I’m just going to get really outrageous when I get older. That’s my plan.

  22. I have deep vertical lines in my forehead, right above my nose, that I started getting when I was about 14. For years, I tried to stop wrinkling my forehead so much for fear of perm. wrinkles. I haven’t even noticed them in years now.

    The grey thing is catching up with me too. For years I felt all smug about not having grey and now since the accident I’m getting tons of it. At first I thought it was stress-related and would be replaced by “normal” hair (as if grey hair isn’t normal, ha) but no, it’s just continued to come in. If I grey like my mom and my maternal great-aunts, I won’t mind in the least. Gorgeous, steel-grey shiny hair that goes pure white around 70. It’ll probably be better than my current hair. I’m 47, by the way.

  23. At least you don’t have circles under your eyes. That are genetic. And you know that because

    a) your dad has them, and
    b) you’ve had them since you were FOUR.

    And then they were cute.

    But now, you know, you look TIRED and ANGRY, as well as old.

    Cardinal sins for women.

    And when you timidly brought up blepharoplasty your genius dermo who is certified in surgery (and removed some things from other places for health reasons, to reference your earlier post) essentially said “HELL NO” —

    BUT, interestingly enough, didn’t have a response for you when you said to her, “You are a luminary at the top of your career. How else would you recommend, for someone who is not yet in your position, getting past people in a position to influence your career, who won’t offer assignments because they think now you’re ‘too old’?

    What about Greta von Susteren?”

    Radio silence.

    *sigh*

    P.S. 2 liters of water daily and the regular exfoliation of your choice may “help”.

  24. Also, that the fear of losing beauty is tied up with the fear of death, both fat-wise and wrinkle-wise — at least, that’s another thing I took from it.

    Totes. Fear of death and fear of failing to conform to an ideal that demands youth (and changelessness, and a sort of fundamental woman-child immaturity).

  25. Oh, and don’t forget —

    you will get shamed, ridiculed, offered less opportunities, and generally “invisibled” for looking older as a woman.

    However, you will ALSO get shamed and ridiculed should you get “busted” attempting to “look younger than your age”, because you should “accept that it’s going to be over for you soon” and also should “be trying to age gracefully and naturally.”

    Mmmm hmmm. *nodnod*

    You can’t win.
    You can’t break even.
    You can’t get out of the game.

  26. Car, it appears that migraines have a lot to do with the muscle between your eyebrows – right were your “third eye” would be if you grew up all hippie’d up like me – and so they zap it with botox and you’re done. It’s the wrinkle muscle too.
    In fact, there are some cosmetic plastic surgeons who remove that muscle entirely – and this is now a new possible migraine cure.

    FJ – Where I meant to go with my comment was more in line with what you were saying — I find it really interesting that my reaction to wrinkles is in defense of them, whereas not so much with fat, which I’m still prone to fretting about and seeing myself as falling down on the planks you’ve outlined. I have to parent myself through that; but it’s still in me.

    I mean, it’s getting better. Now I see the insanity of it where I didn’t a year ago.

    Another offering for migraines is an anti-seizure thing which sounds pretty harsh in the side effect area. I generally react badly to medication, so it shouldn’t be a first line of defence: but one of the side effects of the anti-seizure is sometimes weight loss. I did not have the Botox reaction. I was “hmm. really? maybe I should…” Had to check that one at the door.

    So yeah, this comparison is really apt for me because I’ve watched myself in one sphere be free and the other one still struggling.

  27. Plus, I have for various reasons, over and over again, gotten into these dynamics throughout my life wherein I’m treated like a six-year-old who can’t manage her life and needn’t be taken seriously. I LOVE how my teensy wrinkles make me look like a grown-up.

    DUDE, A Sarah, do I ever hear and relate to this.

    littlem, I have those circles – but mine are caused (well, I can’t speak to the genetics but as far as I know) by allergies and they aren’t going damn anywhere. And they used to both the hell out of me but concealer bothers me a lot more. People mostly don’t even notice them, which always surprises me. “Oh, your skin tone is so even!” Are you shitting me?

    I actually get really excited whenever Ed spots a grey hair on my head – I can never see them myself. I like who I am at this age and I have every confidence I will continue to like who I am as I age and show signs of it. It’s such an INTERESTING process, too.

    But the cultural stigma attached to signs of aging is just gross.

  28. I want you people to get out of my head!!! Just 40 minutes ago I had an “I’m falling victim to the bullshit beauty standard” moment. I am braless, and while my boobs are inherently hang-y, pregnancy and breastfeeding have made them more so. My husband came over and touched them and I actually said out loud, “Hey, if you could afford the boob job, I’d do it.” What the holy hell?! I wouldn’t, but I still wish for “nicer” boobs. God, I hate that. I should just remember Melissa McEwan’s words, “My boobs are big and dangly and jiggly. And I don’t give a crap. Swing low, sweet chariots!” And if I forget those words, I just watch my preemie son growing so big thanks to my big hanging knockers.

    But, as redemption, perhaps, I have recently stopped dying my hair because I’m starting to go grey. I have been waiting for grey hair for years. It’s not noticeable yet, but I’m hoping…

  29. I find it really interesting that my reaction to wrinkles is in defense of them, whereas not so much with fat, which I’m still prone to fretting about and seeing myself as falling down on the planks you’ve outlined.

    Gotcha! Yeah, that is interesting indeed… it seems to be easier for a lot of people on this thread. I wonder why? Probably because the fat/health rhetoric is so ingrained… and what we associate with wrinkles, besides aging, is stress, and in a society that’s as covertly Puritan as ours is, stress is a mark of distinction (while overindulgence and laziness, our cultural associations with fat, are definitely NOT).

  30. I love my grays and emerging laugh lines. As the youngest of my family for so! long! it’s nice to have proof that I’m an adult, at 34. As my uncle says, “they’re not gray, they’re platinum – because I spent enough to get them!”

    It’s “reality acceptance” – my body is fat, my hair will gray and my skin will wrinkle. Rather than worry about it, I’d rather spend my energy on more important problems.

  31. it seems to be easier for a lot of people on this thread. I wonder why?

    I think it is because once you are already outside the beauty standard, it gets a lot easier (though not EASY) to reject other aspects of it, at least intellectually – it is a lot harder to get our feelings to go along with the program.

    Julia, was it you who was talking about this recently in regards to your skin color placing you outside of the beauty standard?

  32. I don’t know if I’ll “let” myself go gray. Not because I don’t think I’d look awesome gray (I totally would!) but because I just have so much FUN coloring! I’m addicted to the fun of just making myself an auburn redhead. Though if my eyebrows go white maybe THEN I’ll stop…or maybe I’ll just switch to hot pink and dye my eyebrows too ;)

    A long while ago when I went on a business trip the ladies at our lunch table (after the conferences) kept asking me how I kept my skin so smooth and shit…I was baffled since all I could answer was “Um…I wash my face with soap”. I rarely used (or even to this day use) makeup, especially coverup and I’m kinda glad. Although the biggest reason I hate makeup? I rub my eyes ALL the time (like a sleepy 4 year old ready for a nap) and end up with stupid makeup in my eyes! :)

  33. Mary Sue- I know exactly what you mean about the scars. I have more than a couple of mountain biking/ road riding wrecks/drunk stumble scars. It was so sad when someone asked me what one of my knee scars was from and I couldn’t remember anymore (not ’cause it was gone, but now I can’t place the exact instant when it happened).

  34. What about necks? Oh my goodness…don’t even get me started. And if I were thinner it would hang like a waddle. Thank goodness I am a plump one. WAY less wrinkles! If I lost weight I would gain about 8 years in looks. I say to myself, “I am a strong woman from English and German stock. I am powerful with neck or no neck!” Thank you FA movement ! Thank you all of you!

  35. And for some reason, this thread made “Dream operator” by the Talking Heads come into my head… “My face is a book, but it’s not what it seems…” Maybe we can change the chorus to, “Every wrinkle tells it all, and this is your story” though I don’t know if “shake it up, wrinkle” is all that great :)

  36. While I do have those “who is that old lady and what is she doing in my mirror” moments, I’m generally reasonably content with my face. I have one wrinkle across my forehead that I’ve named after my former place of employment because that’s where I earned it. (I have a number of other wrinkles, but they’re all still anonymous.)

    What bugs me on and off are the jowls – these are part of the genetic legacy from my mother’s side of the family, ALL the women on that side have them, thin, fat, or otherwise. They’re not too bad now, but they’re the one thing that I can envision changing right now. Or I might not. I don’t know, and there’s no rush.

    I figure it’s ok to be bugged by this as long as it doesn’t keep me from the important parts of living. Vanity is part of being human. So’s being afraid of getting old and dying.

  37. The Rotund wrote: I think it is because once you are already outside the beauty standard, it gets a lot easier (though not EASY) to reject other aspects of it, at least intellectually – it is a lot harder to get our feelings to go along with the program.

    Gads, YES. When you grow up in the full knowledge that no matter what you do, you will NEVER meet the beauty standard, one of the many ways people respond is to treat it as a suggestion, not a requirement. At least that’s what I did. I take what I want from it and ignore the rest because I know it doesn’t apply to me.

    There’s a lot of freedom in that. There is also a lot of cultural disconnect.

  38. I’m 25 and just starting to develop forehead wrinkles.
    I. Love. Them.
    They give me expression and character and confidence.
    I moisturise, sure, but I welcome my wrinkles.

  39. littlem–it’s not real life, but the invisibility of older women in fiction (at least fantasy/science fiction, which is the majority of what I read) has bothered me for a long time, ever since when I was about 8 I decided when I grew up I wanted to turn into an old man. After all, old men get to be wizards and awesome stuff like that! I had no picture in my head of “awesome old woman”. Still don’t have as strong of one as I’d like…

  40. I’ve had gray hairs since I was a teenager and I totally love them! I am occasionally startled by how much gray I have these days, but honestly I want to go gray faster. Of course, what I really want is to go prematurely gray so I look all striking with my relatively young face and steely hair; I don’t know if I will feel the same way once my face starts to catch up more with my hair.

  41. Apparently I’ll get the wrinkles and you’ll get the gray hair. I wouldn’t know even if I were going gray, but sadly I think I’m not. I check my roots occasionally… if they ever have the decency to go a reasonable percentage gray, I will stop dying my hair immediately.

  42. I saw something just last night that bothered me along these lines. I was picking up a prescription, and the pharmacy had a large poster-ad for their senior discount. Pictured were four “seniors”: three men and a woman.

    The three men actually looked, you know, older: they had white or greying hair, wrinkley faces, one even had a bit of a pot belly. They were all standing, wearing pants and a shirts, and one was wearing a sweatshirt.

    The woman, however, was wearing the popularized version of “yoga clothes”, i.e. skintight capri pants and a tight tanktop. She was sitting on a yoga mat in a spinal-twist position. And honestly, if she hadn’t had greying hair, she would have looked like she was in her twenties: unwrinkled face, firm body, shiny and smooth skin all over her exposed legs, arms, and upper chest.

    I assume one is to believe that since she is greying and doing yoga, she is “aging naturally and gracefully.” Which just goes to show that the only way to “age naturally and gracefully” is, well, just not to age. I mean sure, you can have the token grey hair or laugh wrinkle here or there which shows you are a Strong Woman Who Cares About More Important Things Than Beauty Standards, as long as you “naturally and gracefully” retain a young thin woman’s taut body, clear complexion, and of course extreme flexibility.

    I mean seriously? Last night I was at church (we had a vigil for the UU Knoxville shooting; I am a member of UU Savannah), where I know an actual yoga instructor who is actually aging naturally and gracefully. She has short, grey hair, a wrinkley face, and a short, stocky figure. She’s also amazingly beautiful and an inspiring woman, not some Old Age Barbie. And she can do some amazing yoga poses, too! ;)

    I mean sheesh. GAH! That it happens is frustrating enough, but that this happens and nobody else seems to even notice it, or think it’s a big deal? Horrifying.

  43. A Sarah, I love my laugh lines and crows feet too! The laugh lines show that I am a joyful person, and the crows feet add interest to my face. Of course, right now they’re pretty small, I may feel differently when I start getting really significant wrinkles.

    Littlem, I have circles under my eyes too and what you’re talking about is why I never, ever leave the house without wearing concealer. I’ll go out in my pyjama pants without washing or combing my hair, but I will put that damn concealer on first. Years of my mother telling me: “You know Becky, you could never be a model because of those under eye circles” (as if my 5’1 self ever expressed any interest in being a model!) and of people asking me why I look so tired. I think I will accept every inch of my fat body before I accept those undereye circles (probably because I had them when I was young and impressionable, whereas the fat didn’t come until later).

  44. and what we associate with wrinkles, besides aging, is stress

    I’ve always found crow’s feet to be extremely sexy, and I’ve actually always associated them with laughter, love, and spending large amounts of time relaxing in the sun. They’ve always seemed very healthy, in some way, to me.

  45. I strangely think my face looks better now (age 42) than it did when I was younger. I can’t even articulate what I like better, but it seems to be something like…more definition, or an edge. (This is NOT to say my face is thinner – that is not it at all.) The features have sharpened as some wrinkling has taken hold, I guess. But also, I keep my hair very short, and I have a prominent gray tuft right in front, plus plenty of gray in the fringe all around my face. A few people have said I am brave to keep my hair gray. Puh-leeze. Not really. It’s more like I am too cheap to begin the coloring process. But what I like to say is I have natural highlights – they’re just gray, not blond.

  46. There’s a lot of freedom in that. There is also a lot of cultural disconnect.

    Hell yeah, TropicalChrome.

    You know, though, I am really happy with my life so I don’t think I’d trade away that freedom to get rid of the cultural disconnect at this point.

  47. I have deep vertical lines in my forehead, right above my nose, that I started getting when I was about 14. For years, I tried to stop wrinkling my forehead so much for fear of perm. wrinkles. I haven’t even noticed them in years now.

    For as long as I can remember, I have had a vertical wrinkle between my eyes…

    For as long as I can remember, my Mom has nagged me not to squint, frown, etc. because I was causing that wrinkle.

    When my nephew was born, we broke out all our baby pictures and there I am in the newborn photo they take at the hospital — with that wrinkle already in place. :::grumbledamnitmomgrumble:::

  48. when i was in college i did a research study for money that involved being injected with some new form of botox, then photographed trying to frown (in the furrowing your brows way). this went on for 3 years, and if i’d had more money, i’d have stopped.

    a. that shit HUUUURRRTS. and i dont mind needles. i have tons of tattoos. but with the botox, it’s a weird kind of pain where you can hear cracking and feel sharp sharp twinges that radiate and hurt your face.

    b. it pissed me off that i qualified at age 21. what i needed to qualify was a “moderate glabellar line when at maximum frown”
    which means that my forehead wrinkled when i scowled!

    that’s right, now they’re promoting PREVENTIVE botox. because you can see where you WILL have wrinkles later and you should do all you can to stop it.

    and i just did this because i got money every month, but the rich ladies that worked in that office always talked to me about how lucky i’d be to not wrinkle for awhile longer than i would have naturally, bla bla bla.

    you can’t move your face at all when that shit is in it either. for the first week or so it was entertaining to try to furrow my brow and not be able to. then it just started freaking me out and i got creeped out being a medical guinea pig…

  49. I remember getting my first wrinkle when I was about 30. It was by my mouth and I really hated it. It had no business being on my face like that.

    Now I’m 55 and I have some major wrinkles especially around my mouth. But I think that the menopause fairies took away my worries about having wrinkles! The wrinkles really don’t bother me!

    One time when I went to visit my 85 year old father at the nursing home, one of the workers said “Oh, you look just like your father! You even have the same jowls!” My 30 year old self would have just wanted to crawl into a hole, but my present day self was more concerned with not bursting into laughter because I didn’t want to embarrass the worker!

    Well, I mostly told that story because the jowls part still makes me laugh. But also because my attitude about wrinkles changed with no effort at all on my part, whereas accepting my fat is much much harder.

    I think that if I could have my say, 27 year old figure and face back again, but be my 55 year old self inside of that, I would be very annoyed with the way that people didn’t take me seriously the way they usually do now.

  50. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to dye my hair grey/silver for years. I just think it’s a super rad color, and don’t mind looking older if that’s the result. (I have grey hair already — always have, I’m a very ash-y dark blonde)

  51. I assume one is to believe that since she is greying and doing yoga, she is “aging naturally and gracefully.” Which just goes to show that the only way to “age naturally and gracefully” is, well, just not to age.

    This is exactly right.

  52. Heh, yeah. My grandmother is a yogini-type and, until she hit like 72 or something, taught swimming at the Y. (She may still; I’m not sure.) She’s also stout and a bit wrinkly. Admittedly, she gets bonuses because she was dead gorgeous when she was younger, but she doesn’t look like the young-women-with-gray-hair on television, and she’s NEVER had a waist.

    Also, she stopped dyeing her hair the day I was born (oldest grandkid), and she has fantastic silver hair. I’d kill to have my hair that color, but alas, I got the hair from the other side of the family.

  53. My crow’s feet shock me, but not because I worry that people will perceive me as old. Instead it is because they remind me that I am indeed aging. Where has the time gone? What have I done with my life?

  54. Lilahcello, I used to say that I was going to get a boob job as soon as I weaned my son. Mostly because it is a pain in the ass to find bras in my size (38EE) and a little bit because the boobs being almost a cup-size difference really bothers me cosmetically.

    One day, while nursing (in public with my tits hanging out) I said to a friend “When I get to wear non-nursing bras again, I’m getting a boob job so I can walk into Target and buy a bra.”

    She said “Wouldn’t it be easier just to learn to sew so you could make your own bras?”

    She was totally right. Not that I’ve done that, mind you. But I should.

  55. She said “Wouldn’t it be easier just to learn to sew so you could make your own bras?”

    What, you mean making clothes to fit you, instead of making you to fit clothes? What sort of balderdash is this? Quick, somebody get me my fainting chair!

    Seriously, though, making one’s own bras sounds like a fantastic idea, although I wonder how challenging it would be on the technical end (me, I even have trouble hemming pants). ;)

  56. Aproustian –
    “After all, old men get to be wizards and awesome stuff like that! I had no picture in my head of “awesome old woman”. Still don’t have as strong of one as I’d like…”

    I’m 47, and working on becoming Nanny Ogg when I “grow up.” Have you read any Terry Pratchett? Granny Weatherwax is great, but too good and too straight to be my own role model. Nanny Ogg has a face like a month-old apple, likes a laugh and a pint of things that usually come in tiny glasses, but she’s smart, and has authority when it comes to sorting out problems (especially other people’s). I decided five years ago that that’s who I want to grow up to be.

  57. I also have that frown/squint line above my nose. It drives me CRAZY because it makes me look, well, angry or scowly even when I’m not.

    I’m convinced that it come from my years of “thinking hard” in graduate school, as it also gets all wrinkly when I make the “thinking hard” face.

    I haven’t considered treatments yet since I’m pretty afraid of putting “stuff” into my body to shape it, but I won’t say I won’t think about in another 10 years… On the other hand, I’m TOTALLY OBSESSIVE about my skin. Like, I have a skin care system consisting of potions and lotions and scrubs and sunblocks to keep my skin soft and pretty. Mostly, it started because I have super dry skin and an irrational fear of skin cancer (like, come on, 10 mins in the sun isn’t going to kill me, really. but still…) but I’ve kept it up because 1. my skin doesn’t itch when I’m anal about it and 2. it also looks great when I’m anal about it 3. thus allowing me to feel better leaving the house with out makeup (which I should just get over, because men don’t have to wear makeup, BUT also, I love my sparkles, my black mascara etc etc).

    wow, that was a wast of space. sorry.

    but thanks for all your thoughts, everyone!

  58. Rosa, I never would have thought about sewing my own bras and I LOVE to sew! I don’t know, I don’t have a degree in magical engineering, which I think I would need to hold mine up (I am somewhere between a 46 G and H). Although I have to say, my Bravada super mega nursing bras are some of the best bras I’ve ever owned. I may keep wearing them forever.

    When I told my hair dresser that I was intending to let my greys come in, I thought she was going to have a heart attack. “Why would you want to do that? Grey hair makes you look at LEAST 10 years older. Maybe even 20!” Ummm, so what’s wrong with that? And I, too, think that grey hair is beautiful. Along with the crows feet that I don’t really have too many of yet. I often wonder if I will feel this good about aging when I start to really show signs of it. I hope I do. I have always thought that I would start to feel at home in my body as I got older. I just think that I’m supposed to be an older woman. My 20s were okay, but I… I can’t explain exactly what I mean. When I hit that magical age, I’ll be sure to let y’all know! You know, the Fantasy of Being Content? :-D

  59. I wonder if fear of mortality and fear of looking ugly are two very different motivations for wanting to avoid wrinkles. You can fear looking old because it reminds you that you are getting older and no one lives forever. You can also fear looking old because you think it will make you unattractive and other people will treat you differently because of it. But then again, these fears are not unrelated in a patriarchal society that doesn’t value older women….

    I think this can relate to fat hatred very easily, since fat is considered both a harbinger of ill health and unattractive. Maybe if it were widely accepted that fat isn’t associated with a greater risk of dying young and the like, then it wouldn’t be considered (as) unattractive? Then again, fat is considered a marker for many things besides “ill health”, such as “low class”*, so just getting the word out that fat is mostly genetic and not about poor diet probably wouldn’t magically remove the prejudice associated with it.

    *I’ve also heard people say things like “Black men think fat is attractive” and “Why are so many lesbians fat? Is it because they don’t want to be attractive to men?”, so it’s no doubt related to a whole slew of other oppressions besides class–that was just a fr’instance–some of which are predicated on genetics (as in, your race depends on your ancestry, and there is debate about whether homosexuality is also genetic), come to think of it. So maybe even if fat were considered merely a genetic trait, fatphobia would still exist :(

  60. Oh grays, I have lots and I love them. Actually they’re coming in white or silver, but I expect them to turn gray eventually, like both my parents.

    But the forehead wrinkle – that one I haven’t become fond of. I’ve never considered *doing* anything about it, but I don’t like it.

    This discussion and the acne one and the facial hair one, plus the ones about being, well, fat… I love how this place is so body positive that people can feel safe expressing their insecurities, and how familiar and comfortable that feels. But at the same time it makes me sad, maybe because there have been a lot of posts on these topics and almost every commenter seems to have *something* they are dissatisfied with about their bodies. I mean, it’s not like I didn’t know that’s how it is. But seeing it laid out here feels both wonderful and sad to me.

  61. Scotlyn–I do read Terry Pratchett! I just hadn’t made that link when I was trying to think of good old women role models, so thank you :) (I tend to take my role models from fiction I think because I don’t have any in my life–my grandmothers and great aunts all died when I was quite young). I’ve also found Doctor Who, old and new series, to have quite a few fabulous old women characters, women who genuinely help the Doctor and are awesome in their own rights (although they *do* tend towards the “skinny and white” realm).

    I should make a list, so whenever I feel like I don’t have anything to look forward to, I can reference it :P

  62. Dan looked concerned: “It’s a toxin. And would that mean your forehead wouldn’t do that thing when you smile? That would be weird.”

    You know, something about this just coalesced what really bugs me about the constructed beauty standard–there’s no room for individuality. Maybe this is just me, but when I am attracted to a person, I’m attracted to that person, not how closely they follow some impersonal beauty standard.

    Also, my mother is 52 and her hair is almost entirely white. I think it looks beautiful. It only makes her look older to people who take it as a matter of course that middle-aged women dye their hair and therefore have a skewed idea of what age actually looks like on a woman.

  63. I totally want to be Susan. Sometimes. Especially when my class won’t pay attention. :)

    (ok, she’s not old, but she kicks butt and she loves chocolate)

  64. I was way more freaked out about wrinkles and looking old when I was in my early 30s than I am now, nearly 40. I used to be really freaked out about veins in my legs, too, as I think my calves are hella wonderful. But for some reason, much of this fear of looking old has faded lately.
    I think swimming at the Y helps as I see lots of older women’s faces and bodies and think they look amazing, which motivates me to want to still be putting on my swimsuit and jumping in the pool when I’m in my 70s.
    I had never colored my hair at all until just a few years ago, and I think I’ll keep doing it until I’m nearly all gray, and then cut my hair shorter once it’s a more even tone. I don’t mind a little gray but it’s a weird mix of colors right now.
    I have a much better relationship with my wrinkles and varicose veins and other things than I do with my fatness, for the moment, at least.
    Fascinating stuff.

  65. I think I need to preface this by saying that I am turning 24 at the end of the month, and thus have very few wrinkles. But goddammit I would love to have some, because people keep asking me if I’m in high school. Argh! Grey hair would be great too. Especially if I could get it in one big streak like Rogue. (I’m a NERD.) Anything to look less like I’m sixteen freaking years old when I’m trying to get a beer.

    My mom, however, has quite a few wrinkles. Which, she’s almost sixty, she’s earned them. She has lines across her forehead that she hates, but she’s had those since forever and I keep pleading with her not to botox them away. Though she also gets migraines, so who knows, it might come up as a possible solution. Same with her grey hair – the rest of it is black and her greys are all right along her hairline, and it looks SO COOL. Aging is fascinating.

  66. One of the things I love about pagans, neopagans and wicca is the crones. The older, the wiser, they barely hear you until you have a few grays. Or, as I call them when they’re partying, the senile delinquents.

  67. Nomie, I’ve got the Rogue streak (I’m 28). I think it’s pretty awesome. I started greying when I was fourteen. And you know, I still get carded, even though there is a gigantic white streak in my otherwise dark hair.

    Both of my parent’s went grey very young, and they make a very handsome couple. Dad’s tall and distinguished. And Mom is just beautiful, all rosy cheeks, sparkling eyes, and soft white curls. (She is short and fat too.) Mom tells stories about people assuming that I was her grand daughter, when I was a baby. She was in her early thirties, and the assumption hurt.

    I’ve pretty much always liked my prematurely greying hair, and am looking forward to the day when I have long silver hair When I was a teenager I looked around at the women I respected and wanted to be like. They were all in their fifties or older. I realized two things: 1) life really begins at menopause. 2) I ought to try to learn from them, and live in such a way that I don’t have to wait until menopause to be that wise, cool, and free.

    Despite being more and more comfortable in my skin (discovering the Fat-o-sphere helped me articulate several things that I’ve been feeling for a while, for which much thanks), I also get annoyed at strangers for commenting on my white streak. Actually I get pretty ticked at strangers who comment on my appearance, period. Compliments I can handle, more or less graciously, but I don’t need someone to tell me what I look like. It’s not as if it can have escaped my notice that I’m six feet tall, and have prematurely greying, unruly curly hair.

    It’s all part and parcel with having a female body, which is, of course, public property. There is an industry which has more money that I can imagine dedicated to selling me shame in order to sell me beauty products, hair dye (and not nearly enough of it is purple), and a diet. I don’t need people acting as unpaid shills for it.

  68. FJ, I know where you’re coming from.

    I sometimes wonder why I’ve managed to accept my weight gain and struggle with the wrinkles. I wonder if it’s because I’ve got blogs like this to read when I’m feeling bad about my shape. :)

    I keep thinking of making a poster with all sorts of women on – fat ones, thin ones, young ones, old ones, all colours – and putting the word ‘beautiful’ across the top. Since reading more FA blogs, I’ve found I don’t just not hate my own body, I see beauty in all sorts of bodies, and I also appreciate all the wonderful things bodies can do, looks aside. (Thanks for that, Shapely Prose!) It seems that being confronted on a daily basis with beauty of all ages, it’ll be easier to accept that in myself.

    I’m still not entirely pleased with having my mother’s face, mind you. I look in the mirror and mum’s staring back. She always told me I’d inherit the family body – and she was right – but no-one mentioned the face! I want my own one!

  69. Scotlyn, not long ago a friend of mine told me I WAS Nanny Ogg. I was rather pleased by that :)

    My mum has deep wrinkles between her eyes that she refers to as her train tracks, which as a kid I thought was quite funny. I find I’m somewhat disappointed that mine aren’t coming in as well defined as hers, they’re not quite parallel, not all the same length and there’s 3 instead of 2 so I won’t be able to keep the train track thing going.

  70. I don’t mind my wrinkles at all – in fact I rather like them. And if I’d gone completely white like my grandmother at the age of 30 I would have gladly gone with that. As it is, I have a few scattered grey hairs on my head, so I keep on dying it since my natural shade of mid-slightly darker-than-mouse-brown is really, really dull.

    But grey pubes? OMG who knew?

  71. My sewing skills are pretty basic, so don’t take this as gospel – but I’m told that bras are hella hard to make and almost everyone is better off buying them. Apparently there are a ton of pieces that all need to work together perfectly in order to give any sort of support.

    At 31, I have no wrinkles (per say, as I have some minor under-and-around my eye wrinkle things that have been there since early adolescence). I chalk that up to my extremely oily skin, and I would totally trade my acne problems for massive crowsfeet and such any day. Aside from the beauty issue, acne hurts. (I missed that discussion, so that was probably already covered. :) )

    The prospect of eventually wrinkling doesn’t bother me, though I’m begining to find myself looking more like my mother, and based on her I don’t think I’ll get much. The prospect of looking more like my mother, however, DOES bother me. I’ve been trying to distance myself from her (emotionally and otherwise) for many years, so it’s disturbing to see any similarities between us.

    I am sad that I only recently found my first gray hair, though. Women on my mom’s side of the family usually go completely white by my age, and they almost always look fantastic that way. I hate my natural hair color, as it clashes with my skin, so I’m stuck dying it until I go all the way gray. Apparently I get my hair from my dad’s side, so I have quite awhile to go.

  72. Oh, man. I’m late on this one, and I love my laugh lines and my tiny crow’s feet, but the ones right in the middle of my brow I can do without. I apparently have the same expression of squinchy-ness that I use for three things: squinting, looking thoughtful, and being worried. Since I’m making one of these three faces for at least 80% of the day, the forehead lines are getting overused. I’d love to retrain my muscles so that my wrinkles can be those fabulous Lauren Hutton laugh lines, but I guess you don’t get to pick how your wrinkles look.

    The thing that bugs me is the perception that you are getting the face you deserve, or that your character shows up on your face. Sure, I think and worry and squint in the sun, but dammit, I laugh too! I laugh a lot! It just seems out of balance, is all I’m saying.

    An acquaintance of mine from high school went on to become a particularly young and brilliant neurosurgeon. Despite his brilliance, he is a bit of a dolt about appearances, and first chopped off his lovely Persian hawk-like nose into a generic looking blob so he could look more white. Since then, he’s added greys to his temples to look older and more trustworthy to his patients–which is really striking me after the comment about looking too old to be promoted above. Different standards for attractiveness in males and females and different societal interpretations of aging and all that…

  73. Ugh, I am a pale pale individual who grew up in sunny San Antonio and refused to do the whole wearing sunscreen even not at the pool thing, so I’ve had pretty serious wrinkles since about age 18. Which is weird because I’ve always hated them, but at the same time they haven’t really correlated with aging. Now I’m 28 and I see more and more, but it’s cool because I was recently hanging out with my sister and a friend from high school and we all have the same SA “fine lines.” It made me feel connected to where I grew up, but also absolved of worrying that I’d somehow screwed up and made myself ugly. It’s weird the shit we blame ourselves for.

  74. … refused to do the whole wearing sunscreen even not at the pool thing, so I’ve had pretty serious wrinkles since about age 18.

    I wonder if this has any validity. Thing is, while I have used sunscreen the last few years, most of my life I haven’t. Now, I’m not pale and never have been, but I’ve had some serious sun exposure, all the way from California to the tropics to the desert, and some stints out on the ocean where there’s wind and salt burn as well. On top of which, I’ve done about the opposite of every bit of advice I’ve seen — hard scrubbing, harsh soaps, no lotions, and all that jazz. And at 50, I’ve just got some fine lines.

    So, I’m inclined to think this is another area where genetics plays a strong role.

  75. I have always thought that I would start to feel at home in my body as I got older. I just think that I’m supposed to be an older woman. My 20s were okay, but I… I can’t explain exactly what I mean. When I hit that magical age, I’ll be sure to let y’all know! You know, the Fantasy of Being Content? :-D

    I have always felt that way too! Like I was MEANT to be older. I LOVE that I am now in my thirties and am being taken seriously. It doesn’t help that I don’t have any wrinkles, but I am beginning to finally feel my right age. I’ve thought I was trapped in a too-young body for ages. I hated being dismissed because of my age and it is nice that people have (finally) started listening.

  76. I’m looking forward to when my hair turns white. I’m thinking it will be that much easier for me to dye it blue.

    (My mom was wrong….I still haven’t outgrown it. Heh heh)

  77. I started going gray when I turned 30. I was totally prepared for it, as my mom started going gray before 30, and so did my maternal grandfather. When I hit 30, I started catching colds more often and I caught the stomach virus twice in one year! Prior to that, I had hardly ever hugged the sink.

    I’m not so sure about the wrinkles though. My grandmother, until she got very ill at 68, looked younger than her age . My mom doesn’t look 53, and we sometimes get mistaken for sisters. So it may be a while before I start getting them. I don’t get a lot of sun and I don’t smoke or drink, so I’m not sure if that will slow the aging process.

    But one thing I notice since turning 30 is how easy I can pull muscles. I pulled my knee doing the Cha-Cha slide during the “crisscross” step and was sore for days. It won’t stop me from doing the dance, but I’ll just have to crisscross a certain way from now on.

  78. I’m in my mid twenties. I color my hair every 4-6 weeks to cover the premature gray I inherited from my dad’s side of my gene pool. I wear sunscreen often. I get pedicures. I get chemical peels. And I am not afraid of Botox, if/when I feel I can use it’s help, I’ll go have it done.

    I’m also a fat feminist. I have a great job, proud of my accomplishments, proud of my politics.

    So I’m vain, so what? My vanity is not destructive. My vanity is not out of control and I’m not about to let anyone steer me into guilt about my vanity.

    “omgz! needles!!! toxins!!” what are you people, like 16? Many of the life-preserving drugs we take are made out of purified “toxins”. Needles are just that – needles. Get a grip!

  79. *apologies for my typos and bad grammar* I should have double checked. I always feel the need to apologize for such things because critics will undoubtedly nit-pit and find faults in my words, you know, be anal like that.

  80. I have had frown lines since I hit puberty. They got really deep when I was getting constant migraines, I remember my mum having a go at me because I was frowning so much and getting wrinkles, “sorry I’m in agony mum!”

    I don’t care what I look like much. The only thing pretty people seem to get is sleezy freaks on the bus trying to hit on them. Pass.

  81. Had to leave this thread after my last comment and not come back til now.

    Aproustian -please make that list, and then share it – ok!

    CAR – yeah Susan totally rocks! Haven’t figured out yet why Pratchett is such a good source of perfecly formed female characters, but they work for me.

    But anyway, in real life, I use my grandmother’s photo, taken at her 100th birthday last year (she’s still going strong) for the wallpaper on my computer. Her every line and wrinkle is beautiful to me, because they define a face full of interest framing a lively pair of twinkly eyes. Believe it or not, despite a face mapping not just the highways but also the tiny byways of her life, she’s still not entirely grey. She has a splodge of brown hair on top (I kid you not) in the midst of the iron grey everywhere else. I’m 48 today – and looking forward (partly on the basis of this genetic treasure) to lots of aging – hopefully much of it most disgracefully!

  82. I always feel the need to apologize for such things because critics will undoubtedly nit-pit and find faults in my words, you know, be anal like that.

    Really? I’d rather you apologized for being really fucking rude.

  83. Risha, I don’t sew and haven’t learned to make my own bras, but it does seem like it’s a less-drastic step to take than major surgery. For one thing, it’s less likely to cause death.

  84. i am SO late to this “party”….so here goes:

    grey pubes? uh….then i guess i shouldn’t tell y’all that you’ll eventually go “bald” there…..LOL….my mom told me this past weekend! it sure beats waxing!

    yeah, i get the whole thing about wrinkles and grey hair….but, i’m gonna chime in with the others about how you get more interesting as you get older…..

    it really sux that so much of “a woman’s worth” is tied up in what she does (or doesn’t) look like…..

  85. That’s because you gesture with your forehead so much. But do you have them even when your face is perfectly still? That’s what caught me by surprise.

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