They come to everyone, eventually, those fine folds in the skin that look like a mistake the first time they show up. You find yourself peering into a mirror and thinking, what is that? I was standing in the fancy shower room of the Yak and Yeti hotel in Katmandu when I first noticed lines beside my eyes. I hadn’t heard about sun screen yet, and had just finished a three week uphill walk in the Himalayas. We’d hardly washed our faces, never mind applying any cream. I was twenty-five years old.
I like to blame childbirth for my very first forehead wrinkle. Imagine, (if you’re not actually in labour at this moment) that you’re trying to pass a honeydew melon through your nether regions. For some, it’s thirty hours of ongoing physical stress followed by the bearing down part, which is just as earthy as it sounds. I defy anyone to walk away from that without a few lines on their forehead. Then there are the late nights with baby, and the toddler moments that don’t end until your child leaves home in the guise of a grownup.
Men who live with women have forehead lines, too. The married ones especially, whose days contain many moments of complete and utter bewilderment. ‘Why is she mad? What did I do? Is it something I said?’ There are no correct answers to these questions, and men’s forehead wrinkles deepen accordingly. Perhaps this is women’s revenge for childbirth. I don’t know. I’m merely guessing, as I always do.
Forehead wrinkles can have harsher consequences than just older looking skin. They are often the gateway to wearing bangs. Once you’ve gone in that direction, it’s very hard to go back. Growing them out is unbearable. If women had to decide between that and experiencing childbirth again, it would be a close call. My decision, back when I was younger, was an easy one. “You should have bangs,” my hair stylist said. ‘Okay,’ I replied, innocent as a child. I’ve been in bang purgatory ever since.
Things change as you age. Hairstyle options lessen, and eventually you have to decide if you’re going for the old woman from Transylvania look, or giving in to a shorter hairstyle that includes bangs. We’re all with you in that one. It takes a village to support those of us who’ve made difficult choices, and those who have no choice left because they’re ninety and its the only way to go, unless they’re related to Snow White.
Wouldn’t it be nice if our wrinkles told a story using speech bubbles that floated around our heads? They’d say things like, ‘Eye wrinkles? You like to laugh!’ You’d get lots of congratulatory looks from passersby, because laughing is always a good thing. But what about the ones that come from worry?
Many of us spend serious time imagining bad things happening to people we love. I’ve been working on this. (Thank you, Jesus, and Eckhart Tolle’s book, ‘A New Earth.’ You work beautifully together.) But in the meantime, a person of a certain age can look like they’ve been through a war.
No matter what one does, the passage of time will dragged its clawed feet across your face. Too much wine? Hello, eye bags. Excessive amounts of dark chocolate? Here’s a rash, or maybe some zits. Lack of sleep? Add ten years. Whatever it is, gravity and life will drag at your flesh until it raises a white flag. ‘Fine. Have your way with me.’
The good news is, this doesn’t usually happen until we’re older and happier. It’s true, dear people in your twenties and thirties. Those in their forties are happier than younger people, and it gets even better after that for most of us. (Google it. Science agrees!)
Perhaps its the ability to put things into perspective. Maybe its because the kids have left home and you can finally afford better quality skin care products. Whatever the cause, it’s easier to laugh about everything once you’re reached a certain age.
So take heart, young people. It gets better. Yes, the wrinkles come, but most days, you won’t care. Because your friends are going through the same thing. And for some reason, it becomes the source of a lot of laughter. And that’s a very good look on everyone. Even people with bangs.