I was waiting at a stoplight on my way to one of only four or five destinations I drive to any longer. This time it was the convenience store to satisfy a sudden family craving for Blue Bell ice cream.
I turned the rearview mirror so I could see my face. My chin specifically. Stop lights have always been a great opportunity for me to inspect the hirsute state of my jawline. The natural light illuminates the hairs and I rub my chin like a professor in deep thought to pinpoint the exact location of the little devils. I keep a Mr. Tweezerman in a cup holder for just such on-the-go extractions.
On my ice-cream run, the mirror and my fingertips told me I had a garden of sprouts. But I didn’t reach for the tweezers. I realized I didn’t need to go through the painstaking plucking, which always leaves me frustrated with the slipperiness of the fine whiskers and sometimes leaves me with a nick or two if I’m not concentrating well.
I have an easier solution these days. I can hide my problem since I’m wearing a mask any time I’m in public. (I have a whole fashion-y selection of masks including this one made from NextTribe’s signature leopard print and I have my eyes on this one for a cute summer statement and this if I ever again go to a formal event. Simply gorgeous.) As long as my husband doesn’t mind, I suppose I could cultivate a nice little goatee.
That’s when I grasped that half my beauty problems were over. For the time being, at least. My lower face is now liberated from the standards of the beauty industry. Sure, I’d rather deal with these lower face issues than wear a mask so I don’t die, but if I have to don a mask anyhow, I’m all for looking on the bright side.
Going Under Cover
There’s so much in the world to worry about, but here’s what is no longer on the list for me:
I’ve always hated that my lips look like rubber bands that speak. Collagen injections? Never considered because, uh, Barbara Hershey, and certainly won’t have to now. If other thin-lippers catch on, this could put a major dent into plastic surgeons’ finances. But still, they’re the last businesses that need a bail out.
With thin lips, I always had to find a shade that made me look un-dead but didn’t call too much attention to the non-existence of what was underneath. I usually go with something in a rust hue, but I’m not entirely comfortable with even that, since sometimes when I catch myself in a mirror it looks as if I’ve been making out with an old metal gate.
OK, this isn’t a big problem. But every so often—usually after I’d had lunch with an important person—I’d catch one poking its little self out of a nostril. Which felt like a middle finger from the beauty imps.
Marionette lines. Laugh lines. Any kind of mouth lines. Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone under cover, I mean.
Age Spots Along My Jaw Line
For some reason, I have lots of brown smudges on a section of my right side, as if a small chipmunk had left muddy footprints crawling from the lymph node on my neck to my right temple. Because it’s only on one side, it makes me think I’ve spent most of my time as a passenger in the car of life, and then I sort of go into a spiral of self-examination wondering what this says about me.
My teeth aren’t bad, really. They’re somewhere on the white range, but if you were thinking in terms of paint colors, they might be classified in that end of the sample spectrum that has qualifiers like “antique” and “creamy” and “off.” Dazzled by the whiteness of some of my friends’ teefers, I’ve tried whitening procedures, but they usually leave my teeth so sensitive they hurt when I hear ice cubes clink together. Forget my self-imposed one-cup-of-tea-a-day restriction. I can OD on Earl Gray now. (Oh, and I don’t have to worry any more that I still have some of my spinach salad hanging out between incisors!)
Maybe this isn’t a beauty problem, but still it’s a problem that won’t take up any space in my mind any longer. Bring on the kimchee! (Oh, dang. The Korean restaurant is closed.)
I know, I’m talking about face masks here. But just by thinking a little bigger—as in a bandana bigger—you can neutralize the bane of so many of us who share Nora Ephron’s angst. Plus, I’ve been seeing more ads for masks that have a curtain that extends to the clavicle. It puts me in mind of an I Dream of Jeannie costume or maybe a niqab, and these days, I’m starting to appreciate some of the brilliant aspects of such garments.
People You Don’t Want to Talk To
This is definitely not a beauty problem, but as long as we’re talking about unexpected benefits of the mask mandate, I can’t fail to mention this one. Since I’ve started wearing masks to the grocery store, it’s become so much easier to avoid those awkward meat-aisle catch ups with parents of my kids’ high school friends. Before it always seemed I was invisible only until I really wanted to be. Now, I feel like we’re all equally invisible. Even the youngest, hottest among us. This offers strange, and needed, comfort.