"You have such beautiful skin." Hah! What was the person who said that the other day thinking, as I quickly questioned in my mind that person's judgment? When I was young I had difficulty accepting compliments with a simple "thank you" as they didn't always match my own perception of myself. I've gotten much better over the years at being willing to accept praise, even if I privately think the speaker's words don't describe me. I've never considered I had "beautiful skin" as I compared my own to that of others I admired.
I was aware of so many with varied skin tone gradations from pearly white through olive, to a golden bronze, to others with skin color shades of the darkest brown and blue-black. These were much more attractive than my own. But I was always envious of those girls and guys, no matter their color, whose skin was as soft and smooth as the proverbial newborns. My facial skin never had that quality though I rather liked the few small delicate freckles sprinkled at the top of my cheekbones. But, my face lacked that quality of glass-like smoothness present on other parts of my body that symbolized the truly smooth "beautiful skin" I thought was desirable.
When I was beginning to pay attention to my facial skin as a teenager, all I ever saw were the zits that kept showing up periodically. We lived in a climate with a higher level of humidity than what I've known over the past thirty-five plus years, so I don't know if that contributed to the fact my face always seemed to have excessive oil, as did my hair, or if it was simply genetic.
I do recall some drug store products and others that were supposed to eliminate those offending skin anomalies, including a white creme in a jar and a tube ointment that were supposed to be curative. There were mixed opinions among users as to how effective those treatments and most others were. There were varying stories as to what might be the cause of these skin problems, also what to eat or not eat for prevention i.e. avoid chocolate, stop drinking milk, and additional remedies in other old wives tales, or mother's cure solutions.
If all those blemishes weren't enough, I also had a chicken pox scar in the upper center of my forehead. My mother must have been very concerned about protecting me from acquiring any visible body scars when I was small. My small pox vaccine was administered to a part of my body other than my arm because she knew the inoculation always left a scar. She thought it would never be exposed to view, not realizing the body covering bathing suits of her day would give way to those skimpy one piecers of my day, then the ultimate bikinis, and thongs of today. She would probably say now, why don't we all just become nudists and be done with it.
She always tried to reassure me that I did not cause that chicken pox scar by picking at the scab. I guess she didn't want me to go through life blaming myself for this disfigurement in such a prominent facial location. She said that scab fell off of its own accord, leaving the scar behind. The scar never particularly bothered me, so her concern was greater than mine. The reality is, I've never once had anyone note that pox scar, including my closest friends, who wouldn't have hesitated to inquire about the cause of any ghastly blemish had they noticed.
Since then, I have proceeded along the continuum of aging, as we all do. I don't know when, but one day some years ago, I looked in the mirror only to be shocked by this face staring back at me with two wrinkles at each mouth corner. These wrinkles running downward on each side of my face toward the lower edge of my jaw appeared to be erosions wide and deep as a river.
This sight was most distressing as I recognized myself. I could only conclude those wrinkles made me look like an unpleasant perpetually perturbed disgruntled grumpy person. Fortunately, when I smile and laugh those furrows disappear, a motivation for laughing a lot. The reality is I find humor in most any situation as I embrace a sometimes-quirky perception of life. I laugh easily, abundantly, frequently, sometimes even when I probably shouldn't.
Those wrinkly furrows were the first images that came to my mind when I was given that unbelievable, to me, comment about my beautiful skin. I must admit I did feel compelled to finally respond with words to the effect that there must be some mistake because, look at these cavernous wrinkles as I pointed to the corners of my mouth. The response I received was, "I've never even noticed those." Well, I thought, good for me focusing attention on that flaw, that's probably the first thing that person will notice about me from now on. I better not make that mistake again.
I just noticed in the mirror tonight, I have faint lines, or are they minute' creases... Wait! I think they are slight signs of wrinkles in my forehead. They go right through my chicken pox scar. Good heavens! Didn't that person even notice those the other day? Should I confront that well-meaning soul and point out these budding wrinkles to prove how mistaken the initial perception of the state of my skin actually was? I know the person doesn't have vision problems, doesn't even need to wear glasses and is not given to falsehood flattery. Perhaps the friend has a mental cog slipping, about which neither of us know. On the other hand, is it possible? Could someone actually perceive I have nice skin covering this redhead's aging body?
I'll consider what to do about these skin issues/wrinkles in my next post – botox injections, facelift, plastic surgery?