Sunday, 23 May 2010


I signed up for some face cream trial this week, for Facegoop purposes. You had to be at least 35 which ruled M out, so I get to play guinea pig with some unidentified mystery product. I have quite sensitive skin, so I'm confidently looking forward to breaking out in leprous sores within hours of using it. The first stage was a hideous facial scan thing during which a sinister dermatologist operating out of a basement den in the Barbican made me wear an Alice band.

(The Alice Band prompted this exchange between M and me:

E: Girls in wigs shouldn't wear Alice bands. It's a proverb. A Belgian one, probably.

M: HA. En Avril, ne te decouvre pas d'un fil. En Mai, ne porte pas de perruque sous un serre-tête.

I think we should work on more Franco-Anglo-Belgo-Cambodian proverbs. It could be another sideline for us).

Anyway. There was an Alice band, then sticking my head into a strange white tube, like a mini-MRI machine, to have hideous photographs taken. Much more on this subject on Facegoop, imminently.

For these purposes though, I found the whole thing very odd. I have spent much of the last year appalled at the way I have been ageing at warp speed. Every time I look in the mirror something else appears to have gone rough, or puffy or wrinkled. Ageing doesn't seem to be linear with me. I remember a previous period where my face seemed to change rapidly over a short period of time - not entirely coincidentally, it was when we lived in Paris. I was probably as unhappy as I have ever been on top of dealing with a vampiric newborn, whose crying would bring the brattish 22 year old from downstairs up to whine that he was going to report us to Social Services if our baby continued to cry. Ah, happy times. This time it's probably less unhappiness and more a combination of stress and terrible life hygiene and hitting the dreadful 35, at which point, apparently, your face starts to skitter downhill towards oblivion at a massively accelerated rate. Aaaaanyway. I have spent some time standing in front of the mirror and thinking dark thoughts* recently, and was rather dreading the scan.

The results were mixed. They do this disgusting thing where they show you the sun damage on your face in nightmarish detail, like this:

I am a pale Northern celt, who spent most of her teenage years as a would-be goth, lurking in the mildewed gloom of Rough Trade records wearing seventy three layers of paisley and black. Our holidays were invariably in some boggy site of natural beauty (and tedium) where it would rain interminably until we all, at varying times depending on our degree of mental resilience, lost the will to live. Sun NEVER featured in our holidays, and in adulthood, I have been similarly disinclined to worship the fiery ball on its odd appearance in suntraps like, er, Belgium.

AND YET. I have terrible sun damage, apparently. The sinister dermatologist said sympathetically it was probably because I was inclined to freckles. Mouais. I am, and I hate them and it's still not fair. I scored better on wrinkles, though the sight of my eyelids on the picture made me want to vomit. Worst of all was the picture that highlights all the areas of "redness". This was a bit like getting a black marker pen and drawing round all the bits of your face you hate. The sinister dermatologist poked a pencil in the direction of my nostrils and said, faux-sympathetically, that I could get the veins "ablated". I have no idea what this is, but it sounded about as much fun as that time the senile gynaecologist suggested he could "cauterise" some part of my internal plumbing for me. No thanks, sans façon, merci, très peu pour moi.

However. Even with the vile pictures of red veins and bacteria and age spots magnified a million times, I looked at my face and thought it looked alright, really. I like my lips. I don't mind my nose, even though it's huge. I'd be happier with eyelashes, for sure, the less said about my nostrils the better, and if money were no objet, I'm sure I would be toying with minor improvements in the jawline department. But fundamentally, I was surprisingly happy. I don't really know where I'm going with this. Maybe you grow into your face at precisely the point it starts to slide off your skull.

I am supposed to get a print out of the pictures of my own decay next time I go, so that's something to look forward to. I promise to post them.

(* Pick n Mix from: mortality related dread/likelihood of dying alone with face eaten by dog/probable cost of chin lift)


Hodmandod said...

I did that. Look leprous.

Jessica said...

This is possibly the most backwardly positive thing I can think of to say about the pictures: Since most of us never really get the chance to gaze upon others while their eyes are closed and here we get to, you look peaceful, and you have great lips.

So, to console your morbid thoughts, I will say this: If you were to die tomorrow, I think you'd look pretty smashing, as far as corpses go. (As long as the dog didn't eat your face off, of course.)

Jaywalker said...

Those aren't me Jessica! Mine were FAR WORSE. Just wait. When I have them, you'll see.

Jessica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica said...

Are you kidding me? Wow, today is so not my day.

Anyways, having seen you in *real* life, you do have great lips and I still stand by the great-corpse thing. Though I suppose I can't say whether or not you look peaceful with eyes closed, since I was just gazing upon someone else thinking that THEY looked peaceful.

Now I must bury myself under my duvet in shame. I believe I will fantasize about having my own freckled skin sandblasted beyond recognition.

WrathofDawn said...

"Maybe you grow into your face at precisely the point it starts to slide off your skull."

Very possible. It would explain how I was almost, sort of, kinda pretty in the right light for about 20 minutes during my late 30s.

jojo said...

I did that. And was so traumatised that the white-coated Elemis nazis were able to con me into spending half my annual household income on "remedies". Mainly sunscreen. They didn't work. I'm sitting here with threadveins and a decolletage the colour of unripe beetroot.
I think I burned my pics. Glad to hear it had the opposite effect on you though.

Madame DeFarge said...

Lord, I wouldn't dare. I am pale, freckled and suspect that I would look the same. Some things just aren't worth knowing.

Lisa-Marie said...

I am also pale, Celtic and inclined to freckle. I quite like them, but the dermatologist I visit for eczema does not. I wear factor 40 and still burn, what does she want me to do?

Also, I did't realise you were over 35. I truly thought you were about 30, as your children are quite young. You barely look like a grown up!

Ellie said...

Freckles. Can we just not talk about them?

3limes said...

Oh what a scary way to pass an afternoon. I am sure I would be appalled, spending as much time in the sun as I do, and I already hate the slippage on my face so I am not sure I could cope with any additional info. Aging sucks. We just need to do it as gracefully as possible.

irretrievablybroken said...

I am much, much older than you--practically decades--and my face is indeed sliding off my skull at an alarming rate. Accelerated by trauma/alcohol/overwhelming what-the-fuckitude, no doubt. And yet somehow I like my aged, ragged visage more than my plumply glowing face of yore. I look back at old pictures and I want to smack the smug right off that young, radiant lassie.