Monday, February 20, 2012

The blessings of bad skin and frizzy hair

I turn 40 this year.

I already have people asking if I feel old, people are calling me middle-aged. But it all skims off my back like an omelette off teflon.

Ask me why. Because of bad skin and frizzy hair.

I didn't always have bad skin and copper strand like hair. Just in my prime--the time girls are at their prettiest--those late teen years and twenties when the skin can be sometimes problematic but can also be at its most glowing and hair at its thickest and shiniest. When no matter what, just being young makes you look good.

Not me though. I had sun damaged skin ever since I can remember. I had hyper-pigmentation--dark patches--on several parts of my face and then some hypo pigmentation--light patches--on other parts. I was quite the soccer ball. The longer I stayed in the sun--which is sort of impossible to avoid living in India--the worse I looked. People called me smart and confident but seldom pretty. I got used to it. Mostly people looked at me with sad expressions examining all my various patches--tsk tsking at my misfortune. Asking why I had such awful skin, sympathizing, shaking their heads.

It wasn't all bleak. There was one small blip of ego boost I had. It happened on a trip to Germany at age 19. For three weeks there I was called pretty, beautiful, exotic. It was awesome. Surreal. And it gave me the confidence to go on for the next few years at college where I was surrounded by nubile beings by the dozen all with clear skin they didn't have to hide or explain away. And hair they could toss and run their fingers through. Me? If I ran my fingers through my hair, they'd stop after the first inch or so. The humidity made my already frizzy hair a positively razor sharp ball of copper wire.

These nubile maidens got dozens of roses for rose day and friendship day and what have you. I think I got one in my four years in college. But I learned to accept my fate as the one who may not be pretty but the owner of one or two other redeeming qualities.

Those prime years passed. I made pilgrimages to dermatologists. Upon their advice, I changed my religion to sunscreen. The effects were an oily shiny skin that only my sweetheart seemed to think attractive --bless his heart. Give it time, I was told, your skin will improve.

Fifteen years later--in my thirties, I found my skin improved. Vastly. And magically, I discovered hair products that transformed my hair to curly from frizzy. Thank you Ouidad.

It had taken years but finally, I had arrived. Pregnancy reduced my thick storm of hair to a sad mousy tail but at least I had the Ouidad gels to mask that. My skin continued to improve. Yes the years advance and if the only way isn't up anymore, at least it is sideways...for a while...

I sail into my forties therefore not at all unhappy for being older. I'm wiser thank heavens. My anger and angst have dimmed. And thanks to my two boys my sharp edges have been reasonably blunted.

Hey on my good days, I'm even called pretty.

As far as I am concerned, the only way is up!