Smooth and Textured: Forty-seven Years of my Skin

skinRecently I came across a picture that my brother took of me when I was about sixteen. It is obviously an art shot, with the light coming in over my right shoulder. My brother went on to become a professional photographer, and I think you can see his future indicated in the composition and lighting skills on display here.

But that was then. In a brave experiment, I asked my husband to take a shot of me today in a similar pose.  I wanted to examine the changes forty-seven years have wrought on my face. No special lighting or makeup, just the face I have now. What’s the same? The nose and ears are easily recognizable, and the short hair, too. In my high school days, I used to straighten my curly hair with gels and rollers. (Does anyone else remember Dippity Do?) These days, I dye my hair but otherwise leave it alone.

Although I think anyone would recognize me as the same person, an awful lot has changed. My lips have gotten thinner and my eye lids droppy. My neck looks thicker, although that might that be in part due to the angle. My skin, once smooth, is now textured with lines, furrows, and ridges. It is also discolored in places, evidence of a youth spent in the sun before we knew that sunscreen was important. But even though I’m doing a lot of reading on plastic surgery and sigh at this picture of my younger self, I think I’ll stick with the skin I’m in.

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4 Responses to Smooth and Textured: Forty-seven Years of my Skin

  1. sally says:

    so glad you will stick to the skin you’re in. I’d hate to see you as another nip ‘n tuck
    zombie.
    But I venture that the problem may also lie in the comparison you set up. In the teen portrait–rather retro soft focus for the 60s–you look like a lost lamb, which is arguably fetching in the very young. But now, nearly 5 decades later, I far prefer a probing mind and eye to all that dreamy-vague downcast look.
    In truth, I too fear the forbidding judgment of the camera–the modern Judgment of Paris. May I learn a devil-may-care stare in response to this form of, to paraphrase Baudelaire on photography, industrial cosmetic madness.

  2. Carol in Denver says:

    My friends from Girl Scouts, nearly 60 years ago, look at old photos and agree that we were so beautiful then; why didn’t we know it?

    Nineteen years ago I had an eye removed because of melanoma. The artificial eye looks very natural but its lid and other surrounding tissue do not move as much as the unaffected eye. Now I can see that the side of my face with the removed eye is more wrinkled than the other side which leads me to think that facial exercises might help maintain youthful appearance. When the eyelid droops, I devised an isometric exercise that corrects that. A few people have published books on facial exercises but it doesn’t seem to have caught on; perhaps no money in it?

  3. Jen O says:

    Oh my, you are one brave girl to do this article! What I find interesting is how much is similar between both photos. We really don’t change as much as we might think. Probably most notable is the loss of that chubby skin layer that gave us those slightly cherub contours–and no face lift is going to recapture that (which is why facelifts make the face look ‘odd’, not ‘young’). I bet people still tell you that you haven’t changed a bit!

  4. Lizzie says:

    Brave? I’d say!

    This got me to thinking about all the procedures that have become so commonplace, and I find it encouraging that the older women that are gaining attention as “style icons” are the ones that have had little or no up-grades to their faces. It has taken me a while to get accustomed to my middle-aged face, but I’m comfortable with it now.

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