Do you ever get ready for the day, get in the car and the person in the car mirror is a totally different version of the person who was looking a back at you in the bathroom mirror?
Through the years I’ve learned that if I really want to see the real deal, the car mirror is the most honest one I own. He’s a sneaky guy, because he partners with natural light and together, they’ve smacked me into reality more times than I’d like to admit. Once, after I had my hair colored, my car mirror convinced me that I was going bald, and I spent weeks obsessing over my hairline. Instead of enjoying the breezy early summer days, I turned the car mirror this way and that, determined that I had developed a terrible disease or at the very least, androgenetic alopecia. When I talked to my hair stylist about it, he laughed hard at me and told me that I will never, ever have a problem with thinning hair. He has a right to laugh at this because he’s been doing my hair for a long time, and every time, we have to book an extra hour to dry my really thick hair. Sometimes I overreact in case you haven’t already figured that out.
Still, my car mirror is a much harsher version of the full length mirror in our bedroom that has always been known as “The Skinny Mirror.” She’s a sweetheart, and I enjoy our relationship because she consistently takes off ten pounds. I will trade cars at some point, but the full length Skinny Mirror is for keeps.
Last weekend, I attended a book event in Austin where it became a sort of mini high school reunion with a lot of people from my hometown in attendance. I ran into a man I hadn’t seen in years, and we started laughing when we admitted that we still think we’re in our early 20’s but that yep, somehow, we got old. I confess that I find it a bit shocking when I see someone I haven’t seen in 25 years and they “suddenly” have grey temples or some eye wrinkles, but soon enough, we start to talk and the same high school kid is talking to me – age seems to just disappear when you’re reconnecting with someone you know from your youth. Yet, when I see myself in the car mirror, nobody is more surprised to see an aging woman staring back at me than me.
The aging conversation moved over to Facebook, where a guy I’ve known since I was 15 made me burst out laughing when I informed him that in case he hadn’t noticed, we’d gotten old. He said,”I kept thinking I was getting a jacked up haircut then I realized that my hairline was hauling ass to the back of my head! Getting older, fatter, and balder is a humbling experience. Makes you want to look at a lot of old photos!”
I’ve really been trying to age with some semblance of grace, and I try not to fret over the aging process, because I’ve lost enough friends in the past few years to know that just being here is a massive blessing. I’ve managed to avoid Botox mainly I’m afraid that once you start smoothing out one area, the others won’t match. Also, I’m a huge wimp and I read about side effects, so no thanks. However, in the past few weeks I’ve made such a disturbing discovery that I’m extremely tempted to look at some old photos in hopes of figuring out what in the hell happened to my neck.
A few weeks ago, I was heading into my barre class where I mix happily with women twenty years my junior. Before class begins, I usually take a peek in the dreaded car mirror to slap a little concealer over my under eye circles, or put on a bit of cheek tint in the hopes of looking a little more fresh-faced amidst all of the actual fresh faces. One afternoon, I was feeling pretty good about the face when the car mirror tilted down and gave me a scare so dramatic I actually gasped.
Something was wrong with my neck.
There, below my chin where my normal neck normally lives was a neck that I can only compare to flesh-colored crinkled tissue paper. I can’t believe I’m actually saying it, but the best word to describe it is “crepey.” I’m sorry, but that’s a word that I didn’t expect to encounter until I was at least 65. Crepey! Here I was worrying about face wrinkles and the neck completely snuck up on me. I began stretching my neck back and forth, doing weird little head bobs in my car mirror and saying, “No! NO!” while the 20 year-olds with their youthful necks bobbed into the studio, blissfuly unaware of the nervous breakdown I was having my car.
When confronted with oddball things going on with the body, most people take to the internet. I don’t. I’m always too freaked out, so I usually spend a few weeks in deep denial, or I pour a huge glass of red wine and go visit my Skinny Mirror in dim lighting where everything is just fine. (I did this when I discovered an unfortunate sagging taking place on just one of my knees, and my Skinny Mirror very sweetly helped me focus on better regions.) However, just mere weeks after discovering my tissue paper neck, the morning radio show I listen to started talking about Tech Neck.
Have you heard of Tech Neck? Evidently this is a thing, and it’s because we’re slumped over our phones so much that it’s wreaking havoc on our necks, backs, and yep, neck skin. In addition to turning our brains to mush and ruining our eyesight, our stupid phones and gadgets are giving us neck wrinkles! This June 2016 Shape article on Tech Neck did very little to make me feel better, mainly because it suggested Botox and there is no way I’m doing an experiment on my neck by voluntarily paralyzing it. I need my neck for lots of activities, thank you very much.
The article also offered up the suggestion of a few neck creams, including StriVectin TL Advanced Tightening Neck Cream, and at $95 for 1.7 ounces, I might be willing to move my budget around and take a break from the ridiculously expensive face cream I use (the same one that JLo uses on her entire body! Did I mention I’m trying to age gracefully?). As vain as it may seem, I just might be willing to buy StriVectin to give my poor neck a little love.
In 2006, the hilarious Nora Ephron wrote a terrific book of funny essays titled, “I Feel Bad About My Neck.” The neck essay is hysterically funny as long as you aren’t experiencing neck issues. Smack dab in the middle of it is the sentence I dreaded reading,
“According to my dermatologist, the neck starts to go at forty-three, and that’s that.”
Given that I’m 44, I suppose I should be glad I got an extra year of normal neck, but that is hardly comforting. Ephron’s essay also notes “Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth. You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t have to if it had a neck.”
Well, this certainly explains French women to me. I have forever been fascinated with their ability to wear scarves year-round and look so fantastic. French women are the reason I have a drawer full of scarves. Little did I know they’re also magically covering up their redwood trees. Brilliant!
With the new realization that I have a case of Tech Neck and a side of good old fashioned aging, until I shell out $95 for the StriVectin and figure out how to add this to my list of things I hope to be graceful about, don’t be surprised if I start rocking a LOT of scarves.