Thursday, January 17

The Laugh Line Revolution

I'm supposed to be working right now. I've even got a list of Things To Do. I'll get to, really. I just need to work up a little enthusiasm first, get my head together and aimed in the right direction. So I don't really consider this procrastinating so much as a kind of stretching exercise before getting serious about my list.

I'm in my 40s. Like anyone else my age when I look in the mirror I notice that there are things about me that just aren't quite the same as they used to be. Overall I have been very lucky in the genetics department. I have no grey yet. As my mother, at 67, has very little grey herself, so little in fact that's it's barely noticeable, I feel fairly confident that I won't need to worry about covering my roots for a while yet. My jaw line is ever so slightly softer than it used to be, the skin on my face, in general, not as tight as it was perhaps 10 or 15 years ago. But I comfort myself with the thought that these things might not be so apparent to other people.

I do have a few faint lines. The ones that bother me are by my upper lip and make me look like I've spent my life with my lips puckered around a cigarette. I don't smoke and never have. In my case it's the result of 40-some years of scrunching my face up in my sleep. They used to disappear when I'd been awake for a bit. Then it was okay because a little face powder covered them. Now, well now they're just there. But like the softening of the jaw line, I tell myself that nobody else notices. Really it wouldn't bother me at all if they didn't look like the result of a 20 year, 2 pack a day habit. I hate it that, to someone who doesn't know me, they might give that impression. Otherwise I really would be okay about it.

If that sounds like I'm protesting too much, please take note that I also have those little crinkles at the corner of each eye. Slight yet and perhaps not obvious to anyone else, I know that over the next few years they'll slowly become as much a part of my face as the shape of my nose.

Those little crinkles are laugh lines. When you laugh, if you really put your whole heart into it, your face sort of spreads out and causes the skin to crease, usually up by your eyes where there's less 'give' in your face. Don't believe me? Go head, take a piece of cloth, pinch on either side and then pull apart. See how the fabric between your fingers creases up? That's what happens to your face when you smile really big. If you smile a lot, especially as an adult, they become more obvious and even take up permanent residence.

I know some women are bothered by this, although I've never understood that. Our faces, over time, reveal to others who we really are inside. And even with botox and plastic surgery, you can't escape reality completely. Something about you, the look in your eyes or the set of your shoulders, will give you away. Personally, if I have to carry some symbol of my life around for all to see, I don't want the first impression I give to be one of bitterness and fear of aging or, almost worse, a complete lack of emotion. This is why those little creases by the corners of my eyes don't bother me at all. In order to achieve those, in order to have them be a permanent part of my features, I have had to laugh and smile a lot in my lifetime. Hell, those lines are a badge of honor ... I've earned them. I only hope that, as I put another decade behind me, people will see them for what they are. Signs that I've laughed a lot my life.

As I said, I know that some women fear those first tell-tale lines. This is just so wrong. We should celebrate those little clues that ours has been a life well lived and filled with joy and humor. Rather than pouring money into magic potions and creams to delay or hide that evidence, we should be emphasizing it. If the world was more logical, young women in their 20s would be devouring magazine articles on the art of creating laugh lines. They would be penciling in fake crinkles in an effort to convince the world that they, too, have laughed and enjoyed life. And then the rest of us could sit back, smugly superior, because we have the real thing.

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