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Girl Talk: I’m Stressed Out About Wrinkles

I’m 25, going on 26, and I am very proud to call myself a feminist. I think the standard of beauty in this country is bulls**t. I like to question authority and talk about the meaning of life and also I’m really stressed out about fine lines that are starting to show up around my eyes…

Would I take back any one of the thousands of hysterical laughing fits that contributed to the faint lines forming around my eyes and mouth? Never.

If this sounds hypocritical or incongruous, tell me about it. I know. My insecurities feel like a dark secret I carry around with me — a dent (or maybe a giant wrinkle?) in my self-confidence, not to mention a black mark on my feminist street cred. I’m supposed to be stressed out about things like peak oil and the status of my checking account. Losing sleep over laugh lines seems superfluous and stupid, but still, I can’t seem to shake it.

I understand how much the cosmetics industry has invested in me feeling like a crumpled hag every time I look in the mirror. I know that wrinkles are proof of a life well lived.

Would I take back any one of the thousands of hysterical laughing fits that contributed to the faint lines forming around my eyes and mouth? Never.

Do I scrutinize those lines in the mirror, terrified that they’re multiplying like Olay-resistant rabbits? Every. Damn. Day.

When I was in 6th grade I wrote a poem about this very subject. Here it is:

When one has wrinkles on her face,
she thinks of them a huge disgrace.
When thought about a different way,
those wrinkles just might make your day.
You know there’s wrinkles on your brain,
and why, there’s no need to explain:
each one states a single thought,
anything that you’ve been taught.
But when those wrinkles overflow,
that’s when wrinkles start to show.
So when you see one, do not fright!
It simply means you’re very bright.

My 12-year-old self never dreamed that my 25-year-old self would already be shopping for eye cream.

I’m engaged in a constant battle between my ideals and my reality. My idealistic self says, “Screw the unrealistic beauty standards! Be proud of your face!” My idealistic self wants me to feel confident and maybe even choreograph an interpretive dance about the unrealistic expectations of our patriarchal society, but my actual self is too busy examining her face in the bathroom mirror, gently pulling and prodding the soft skin around my eyes, willing the wrinkles to disappear.

So, do any of you out there share my wrinkle obsession? Or perhaps you struggle with another secret insecurity–I have friends who publicly preach the gospel of healthy body image while privately wishing for flat stomachs. How do you deal with it? And if you’ve made peace with your looks (you go, girl!), what helped you get there?

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