skin

WARNING: extreme navel gazing ahead.  Here are some OOTD photos to soften the blow… feel free to skip the novel that follows.

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Sweater: Elizabeth Suzann, Wrap: White + Warren.  I spent about an hour at the dermatologist Monday, but I was mostly sitting so I just wore normal clothes.

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Loose, baggy layers for laser treatment.  I was stuck lying supine on the table for about an hour and wanted to be comfortable while the aesthetician basically burned up my entire face and neck.  In retrospect, it’s kind of weird I would actually pay someone to do this.

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Relaxing at home in my Jamie + the Jones checkered sweater.  I’m not leaving the house today.  I feel fine, but my face is pretty scary right now.

I took off the first three days of this week to burn through my last non-rollover PTO days for the year.  I went to the dermatologist’s office and saw an aesthetician twice: for light therapy on Monday, then again for a laser treatment  on Tuesday.  I decided to squeeze it all in this week because it’s easy for me to stay out of the sun this time of year, which is part of the 7-10 days healing process (and, of course, I verified it’s perfectly okay to do them in tandem vs. spacing out the treatments between different weeks).

From my middle teens until about age 33 or 34, I battled with minor but Extremely Persistent acne.  I never looked like a “before” picture, but I always had 3-4 of those deep-beneath-the-surface-of-the-skin (painful!) cystic acne spots… and then there was always a smattering of maybe 5 or 6 “surface” pimples in the T-zone, the kind you can’t help but squeeze.  After years and years of spending (first my parents’, then my own) money on unsuccessful medical treatments, I eliminated gluten from my diet and my skin cleared up – permanently – within a few weeks.  If I decide to forego my gluten free diet and eat a handful of sugar cookies, I’ll break out the next week.  Once I’m back to gluten free, my skin clears up in days.  I know that won’t work for everyone, we all have different body chemistry, but for me it was a magic bullet.

So I guess what I’m trying to express is: I have spent all of my adult life scrutinizing the tiniest details of my skin – on a daily basis.  Especially the skin on my face.  I haven’t been able to let go of that, even after successfully dealing with the acne problem.

My skin is holding up pretty well overall, even with a lot of sun exposure over the years (I’ve aways used SPF) – but I absolutely HATE the way my neck is aging.

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This is the thing that I hate.

I started to notice a loss of elasticity a few years ago, well before age 40 – much earlier than I would have expected.  I’ve tried every neck/decolletage cream on the market, and I’ve come to the conclusion they’re all the same.  The primary benefit is hydration, and the $10 Gold Bond lotion from Target works just as well as any boutique product.  (Plus, with a $10 tube of Gold Bold, I am free to apply as much as I want throughout the day, vs. the expensive products I would measure out with utmost caution).

I’ll be 41 soon so I really want to nip this in the bud before it gets completely out of hand.  Otherwise, I’ll be stuck figuring out how to incorporate a scarf with my outfit every day of the year.  Who knows, I could change my mind in 10 years or 20 years, but I don’t think I will ever be willing to undergo a general anesthesia for an elective medical procedure.  So, a Future-Me neck lift is off the table.  Present Day-Me needs to be proactive.

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This is the result I’m hoping for!

I wish that my crepe-y neck didn’t bother me, but when I look in a mirror it’s the FIRST thing I notice.  (It’s especially bad when I crane my neck to look at something while driving, then catch a glimpse of it in the rearview mirror – that is the worst possible angle!!)  I’d like to be above fretting over my appearance, and the aging process in particular, but I’m not. I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s not a habit I think I will ever be able to break.  And it’s a double whammy.  First, I feel a stab of “ohmygod I’m hideous and should never leave the house again” every time I see my veiny, slack-skinned neck in the mirror.  Then, that’s followed up by chastising myself for being so shallow while there are actual millions of people in the world without enough to eat.  Instead of spending money on anti-aging treatments, I should send a hefty donation to Feeding America, or Harvesters, or any other charity organization.  It sounds like a good resolution for 2018.  I should tax myself a charitable donation every time I have an elective skincare procedure.

So that’s kind of where I’m at, at the end of 2017.  There are many, many things I can improve upon next year.  It seems easy to make a commitment to spend only X amount of money on clothes, or cut my wardrobe down to X many items, etc… but within that realm of image/appearance, I’d really like to figure out a way to spend less time scrutinizing my face.  That’s tough to quantify, though, so I’m not really sure how to go about achieving this goal.   Obviously, I’m always going to care about how I look, and I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally wrong about taking pride in one’s appearance.  But I don’t need to mentally map the progress of fine lines and wrinkles and other imperfections on a daily basis.  That’s a little extreme.

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4 comments

  1. I’m in the same boat as you. I scrutinize my face all the time as well. In fact, the neck waddle is exactly why I crop out my face and neck from my outfit photos (as well as for anonymity). Although it does creep in some of them or doesn’t look as bad some days, depending on the photo. Some days I look at myself and see my mother, who has the Waddle of all Neck Waddles and she’s a tiny woman. I cringe and then wonder how my husband, who is 9 years my junior, sees me. Does he notice? Does he care? I just turned 42 a couple months ago and I know it’s only going to get worse.
    Women don’t talk about this all that much, but accepting the fact that we are aging is emotionally scarring. I feel like there’s an aging stage we go through that’s really draining on us until we get to the point where we fully accept it (50s? 60s?) It causes so much self-doubt and issues with self-confidence because everything around us so youth-centered. And if it’s not, then it’s about “aging gracefully” – whatever the hell that means….

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    1. My mother also has the waddle (I’ve never heard that term before!). The funny thing is, I never noticed until I started focusing on that imperfection myself. In fact, I always felt fortunate to have her genes because despite being 70 now, she doesn’t have wrinkles. Fine lines, yes. Crows feet, a little bit. I think she looks more like 55-ish. Also she is my mother, and I love her, so I just naturally see her best features. Short story: on an intellectual level I realize that I’m probably the only person who notices my neck. But I just can’t shake it! I, too, cannot wait to reach the age when I can let go and stop caring.

      Side note: I was also super excited to become “invisible” to creeper men when I turned 40. It’s a myth. The kind of guy who catcalls out of an open car window does not discriminate based on age.

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  2. Add a beak and I’d rival any self respecting turkey. The waddle is real and if there was a topical cure I am certain I would have found it by now! I can deal with wrinkles, I can deal with gray hair, but I’m not sure there is any way I will be able to look in the mirror and not scrutinize my neck…and that won’t change with age because I’ve seen the future and it isn’t pretty—my grandmother had a waddle the size of a child’s bicep. I think “aging gracefully”is somewhat of a myth. Sure, we get more comfortable in our own skin, feel more confident in our opinions wear what we want…but I don’t believe this negates the physical reality and ones looking upon oneself and feeling a pang of loss at the changes brought on by years lived. It doesn’t help that we live in a youth obsessed culture and a climate where people feel free to criticize what can’t be changed and is inevitable for us all. I guess, I just try to quell the voice in my head and seek a gentler tone when I lament that which I dislike in myself.

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    1. On one hand, it feels reassuring to know that I’m not the only woman who struggles with accepting the aging process and also the “guilt” for being focused on the superficial… but on the other hand, it’s kind of a bummer that so many of us waste our valuable time on this self-critique.

      As crazy as it sounds, I’m really trying to think of a strategy for minimizing this next year. Every now and again I wish that I had a regular office job and needed to leave the house on weekdays… then maybe I wouldn’t have time to stare at myself in the mirror every morning? (Not that I’m going to look for an office job, but maybe I can figure out a way to duplicate that kind of rushed feeling to start working in the morning. I tend to linger in the bathroom while I’m getting ready.)

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