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.”