It was a Friday morning, and my regular dermatologist was booked up. I felt certain I couldn’t survive the weekend with the rash that was itching me to the brink of insanity, so I asked her office if an associate could see me. Bingo—someone was available if I could hustle right over. Hustle I did.
A female doctor (I pegged her to be a bit older than me…late 50s maybe) with a gentle demeanor examined my rash and prescribed a cream. Yay! An itch-free weekend awaited.
She hesitated before leaving the room. She peered at me over the top of her glasses. She smiled and pursed her lips as if about to say something but no words came out.
Finally, she said, “May I ask you something…but I don’t want you to take it the wrong way.”
Beware of a Sentence That Starts With “Don’t Take This the Wrong Way….”
“Sure,” I replied with a big fake grin plastered on my face. The exact opposite of what I was feeling. In my book, “Don’t want you to take it the wrong way” is akin to “No offense, but…” You know when someone says that, they are about to say something horrendously offensive.
“Well, your chin….wouldn’t you like to, um, help it? You know, we have a new treatment. I just did it myself–look! I am so excited about the results, I had to mention it. It’s incredible. An injection or two, and that’s it. No more double chin! Ten years younger, at least!”
Defiantly exposing her chin for inspection, she then swiveled on her wheelie doctor stool, grabbing a brochure and blathering about this new product that would make my jawline younger, tauter, more attractive.
And then the kicker:
“I saw from your chart that your birthday is coming up. Maybe this is the gift you give yourself. Or your loved ones would want to give this to you, instead of new clothes or something. As we age, we need to go ahead and take care of ourselves, of our appearances.”
My smile grew defensively bigger. Determined not to show her how shocked I was (people-pleaser that I am), I focused on the brochure’s before and afters, listened to her spiel on the special introductory pricing, and exited the office, thanking her for sharing this information.
Taking It on the Chin… For Years
My pudgy chin and I go back a long way. It was there with me when I was a toothpick-thin teenager. It was there catching the light (and not in a good way) in college photos. It was there with me on my wedding day when the makeup artist said she’d do a tad of contouring to “try to highlight my jawline” (glargh, the pain of that try). It has increasingly been here with me as I age and my body decides it’s done producing things like elastin and collagen, thank you very much.
I truly thought I had made peace with my chin until this derm called me out.
What she so clearly said was, “Damn, woman, that flabby chin makes you look ancient. You don’t have to live like that anymore!”
This was the first time I’d been confronted so directly about the fact that I was aging and should address my sub-par appearance. Yes, I’d had friends ask if I wanted to join them for Botox injections, but this was a medical professional telling me she noticed a problem and could help. Clearly, I’d just tumbled deep into the well of Middle-Aged Womanhood.
I thought about what she was offering: to preserve a younger appearance. Everybody else is doing it, right?
But lately I’ve been troubled by how none of us women look real anymore. It’s getting harder and harder to see evidence of an unadulterated 50- or 60-something woman in the media. I recently came across a photo of the beautiful 70-year-old Susan Sarandon and wondered if she looks younger than I do. She might.
Should I Take the Bait and Inject My Midlife Double Chin?
Obviously, we’re entering an era where there’s a cream, a shot, a youth-ifying procedure for almost anything. Soon, there will be tools to preserve the illusion that we’re age 40 forever.
But that doesn’t mean we have to take the bait. Yes, I spent a dreamy coffee break imagining what it would be like to have a taut chin. But then the injection struck me as a gateway drug to fillers and all manner of things that might make me look younger—but a younger version of someone else. It wouldn’t be me anymore, with my body going through this mysterious journey, following the path of every other human walking forward. Showing that I’d been through those years in which career, partnership, and parenthood had flowered, and was now gliding into new terrain.
Nope. If I got the shot, it would be a chemically enhanced version of my face that every day would say to me in the mirror, Since I don’t like you as you are, I did what I could to make you look like you used to. Because those were your best years, and they are behind you.
That’s not the person I want to be.
So if anyone in my family is reading this and wonders what I want for my birthday, it’s not to a syringe full of fat-dissolving fluid shot into my chin. Not this year, at any rate. It’s a weekend upstate, laughing in the sunlight. Walking through a meadow. Having cookies and iced coffee with my husband and kids. My chin may not look picture-perfect in any photos that we take, but I’m okay with that.