Slow Learner

I rolled my eyes in bitter disgust at my reflection in the rearview mirror. I was, as many women do, taking in one final overview before heading out.

And let me tell you that yesterday’s “overview” was not so bright. In fact, if ever there were a day to Photoshop one’s own face… this was it.

With one blemish on it’s way out but still lingering over the threshold of my cheek and a brand-spanking-new shiny one announcing it’s rude and unwelcome arrival, I was not in the greatest of moods.

Add to those two little dermatological gems the half-inch evidence mark of what is now being referred to as the “curling iron incident” from two days prior and yes… I was disgusted.

Really? I am 37 years old. I am starting to get laugh lines and on occasion, a few grey hairs at my temples. I SHOULD NOT still be getting pimples and I most certainly SHOULD know how to handle a searing-hot hair implement by now. In fact, shouldn’t there be a law that zits and wrinkles NOT be permitted to occupy the same space? I know I’ve brought up that issue before! UGH.

Strolling down the center aisle of the local drug store I spotted a former classmate I’ve not seen in at least 18 years. I immediately became entranced by a bin of $4 DVDs — sifting through them with great care and reviewing the plot summaries with unbelievable laser-like focus.

Once he passed by I moved down the aisle in search of what I’d come for. “THAT was close!” I said to myself and pressed on. “Hopefully I can slip out of here unnoticed and spend the remainder of the day locked up safely in the house, praying for the pimple cream and neosporin to work their medicinal magic.”

On my way to check out, a woman about my age caught my attention. The first thing I noticed about her was her height. (Standing at a whopping 5’2″ I am intrigued by any female over 5’7″) The second thing I noticed was the manner in which she was holding her head up high as though searching the store for her spouse or child.

It wasn’t until I got much closer that I noticed the skin grafts. They covered her entire face. I was quick to look away as I did not want to stare, but as I turned away I felt heat spreading up through my neck and cheeks as I flushed at my own ridiculous vanity.

“Reality check girl.” My inner voice then said to me. How dare you be so self-absorbed and obsessed with a few stupid temporary blemishes that no one would even care enough to notice when it could—in reality—be so much more than that!

I’ve shared posts similar to this one in the past… but obviously I am a slow learner. I’ll likely never know her story or her name, but hopefully the image of her standing tall, head held high and fearlessly facing the world around her is one not soon to be forgotten.

“Youthful beauty fades with time, but, with cultivation, inner beauty grows richer.”

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Lashing Out

From the beginning of time women have been doing things to improve, enhance, augment or completely alter their appearance. I for one regularly highlight my dishwater-blonde hair, whiten my teeth and have been known to frequent tanning salons in the warmer months to maintain that “healthy glow” (and also to keep from blinding the neighbors at the sight of my ghostly-white thighs). 

Add to that a few things that I used to do that I no longer do… such as: maintain perfectly-polished, lengthy, acrylic, french-manicured nails, receive regular pedicures and attend appointments for massage therapy and laser hair removal. Why (you might ask) did I stop doing those things? Well, I wish I could say that I saw the light and learned to love myself for the beautiful, natural way God made me. But I would be lying. I stopped because either I or my bank account grew weary of keeping up with all of those costly and time-consuming procedures.

So I’ve learned to simplify my needs/expectations of myself and work with what I’ve got by seeing what I can find in the cosmetics department. This can be a worthy endeavor if you’re careful not to go overboard, buying every beauty product on the market just because tv/radio/magazines tell you that you should. Some products seem to do what they claim while others just plain disappoint. Usually I’m pretty good about not falling for every marketing ploy by which I am bombarded. 

However, there is one particular product that is my cosmetic kryptonite. I fall prey to the advertising schemes for this item with stunning regularity. The article to which I am referring is mascara. For some reason I am a sucker for long, thick black lashes that sweep so high as to reach one’s own eyebrows.

Beauty barons like Cover Girl, Loreal, Maybelline and Rimmel London are amazingly adept at getting me to believe in their product. I really do think that I can achieve thicker, fuller, longer lashes just by shelling out $10.99 and brushing their magic, inky-black potion on the lashes that I’ve got.

Problem solved.

But enter a new wave of cosmetic trends and treatments now available to appeal to our insatiable lash lust. I’m talking about eyelash extensions and products to help you grow your own “better” lashes. Salons are popping up all over the place in order to meet the demand and you can now ask your family physician for a prescription for medication that will cure you of your unfortunate affliction.

Yes, marketing departments for lash-extension salons, services and/or products have given the desire for “better” lashes an actual name: “Insufficient Lashes” … And no, I’m not kidding. Retailers and manufacturers want us to believe that our own desire for prettier, more appealing lashes is a now a legitimate health problem!

Even a long, lush lash-lover like me isn’t falling for this one. Perhaps a few years ago I might have bought into it… to the tune of $90 per visit! But the newer, simpler me knows that here is where I must draw the line. Although tempting, my natural lashes lathered with a little of that lengthening livener a.k.a. old-fashioned mascara will do just fine.

The Mysteriously Missing Section in the Cosmetics Department

There is a section missing in the skin care aisle of all cosmetics departments. I’m serious. Check it out next time you are in one. It goes straight from the teenage pimple creams, gels, cleansers, exfoliators, toners and masks right to the anti-aging serums, lifting lotions, wrinkle creams, eye illuminators and lip plumpers.

During a recent trip to the drug store, on a quest to find something that would clear up my skin, yet NOT suck out every ounce of moisture—thus causing my face to look and feel like an old catcher’s mit before I’m 40—I discovered this suspiciously absent section.

WHERE I ask, is the section for the women in between puberty and menopause? Are you with me on this, people? Because many of you are here with me now, or you remember having been here, or you will one day GET here. You’re barely beginning to see some laugh lines and little “chick’s feet” (not yet full-blown crow’s feet) yet you still break out once a month like you did back in high school. Now I ask… What is up with that?! I thought we outgrew acne and blemishes? But no… apparently these 2 delightful skin conditions are going to OVERLAP. Wrinkles PLUS acne. Score.

So I ask you, skin-care manufacturers, where are the products for me and my pals deeply submerged in the throes of the Thrisis?

Do cosmetic manufacturers think women go suddenly from sweet sixteen to senior? Because it sure looks like they do by simply cruising down the aisle. Their marketing message initially goes a little something like this: “Hey, look at you! You’re a teenager! You’re skin is disgusting! You suck. Use our product and you will have beautifully-flawless skin just like the pre-pubescent 11-year-old girl in this airbrushed photo.”

Then you walk a few paces, and the message totally changes. It goes a little something like THIS: “What-up Grams! You’re a hag! You have wrinkles, crater-sized pores, dark circles under your eyes, age spots, sagging lids and thin lips. You suck. Use our product and you will have beautifully, wrinkle-free, airbrushed skin just like the surgically-altered-mature-woman in this doctored photo.”

So I beg of you Roc, Olay, Garnier, Biore, Mary Kay, Noxema, Neutrogena, Clearasil, Clean & Clear and Oxy… please get together and create something for us Skinbetweeners,” because right now, as it stands… you are the ones who suck.