I can blame myself for the extra pounds I carry, even though I still harbor some resentment to my menopausally decreased metabolism. And I know it’s my fault that I’m not in better shape (who has time?!). But what do I do about the sagging, drooping, jiggling and flapping caused by our arch enemy – gravity?
It started with my chin(s). Where the skin used to be taut under my chinline, it now sags and wrinkles and folds. In fact, I feel like my whole face is somehow sliding downward into my neck. How else do you explain where all that extra skin came from? Why else would I feel the downward pull on my cheeks that leaves me looking like I’m perpetually frowning? A co-worker stopped me a few weeks ago and laughingly said “I can always tell when you’re having a bad day!” That wouldn’t have bothered me that much except for one thing – I wasn’t having a bad day. I examined myself in the ladies room mirror a few minutes later and realized sadly that my apple cheeks were looking more like the loose bags that apples are sold in. Apparently my skin was no longer able to hold my face up over my cheekbones, and I was developing a “hound dog” look. Come to think of it, maybe that same phenomenon is happening to my “other cheeks”, too, as my derriere starts sliding down into my thighs…
Since that day, I’ve been making a conscious effort to pull my cheeks up (the ones on my face) and lift the corners of my mouth a little bit all the time. Not into a fake, scary smile, but just enough to work those lazy muscles, and to keep folks from stepping back in fear of a non-existent bad mood. My hope is that I can coax my facial muscles into accepting this “half-grin” as the new normal, staving off the pull of gravity. But I suspect gravity will win eventually.
If I were given a choice of any free cosmetic surgical procedure I wanted, I think it would be the so-called “lifestyle lift”, where the extra skin that gravity has collected under my chin is pulled up into my hairline, giving me a single chin again and a markedly more youthful appearance. I don’t know if I’d go through with it, but it would be tempting.
Hmmm. I may have lied just now…. I don’t know if gravity’s pull really started with my chins or if it was my breasts. Surely they’ve been fighting gravity for a long while now, and they’re losing. If it weren’t for a good bra, the “girls” would be closer to my waistline than my neckline. But at least I can stuff them into that bra and keep the gravity-defying illusion alive as long as I’m clothed. But lying in bed on my back? Yeah, well, let’s just say that my back is clearly where the girls are trying to sneak off to.
But the newest affront from gravity made me gasp in amazement this weekend. I was looking at a digital picture that had been taken of me with a group of friends a few weeks ago. In the photo, I was smiling nicely, my chins didn’t seem too pronounced, and the sleeveless top I was wearing was a good color and style choice for me. I decided that if I cropped the image, it would make a nice Facebook profile picture. So I cropped a tiny square and was adjusting that window over my upper body in the photo, when I noticed something alarming. There was something terribly wrong with my upper arm! Was that dirt? No. A bizarre shadow effect from facing the sun? No. Was the satin fabric of my blouse reflecting a pattern onto my skin? No. I zoomed in for a closer look. Oh. My. God.
It was the flacid skin of my underarm, sagging in defeat to gravity’s calling. Crepe-like, folded in tiny lines being pulled downward, looking like elephant skin. On my arms. My ARMS. MY arms. My 53-year-old arms! It looked as though I’d pulled a big leg of baggy pantyhose up over my arm and let it hang there. A—r—g—h!!!
So this is how it’s going to be. My skin will not only lose elasticity in my face (at least the cosmetic ads warned me about that one), but it will lose elasticity everywhere, drooping ceaselessly towards the Earth. If I were in a more macabre mood, I’d probably see some correlation to death in there, returning to the primordial soup from whence we came…..
Are there ways to fight gravity? We can’t always wear long sleeves, after all. To a point, yes, it can be fought. Exercise (God, how I hate that word) can make a big impact. Tight muscles tend to generate tight skin. And those scary sagging upper arms can definitely benefit from the simplest of workouts – curls and lifts with free weights. That means it’s time to dust the barbells off (again) and start using them (again) and vow to stick with it this time (again).
Hey – I didn’t come to be Sliding Into Old feet first and laughing by being a patsy. Gravity is pulling on me, sure, but dammit, I can fight back in this tug-of-war! Can I defeat an entire planet full of gravitational pull? No, I’ll admit I can’t. But I can sure as hell try. I don’t ever want to see those flabby old-lady wrinkles on my arms again in a photograph, at least not until I’m eighty.
Maybe long sleeves aren’t such a bad idea after all……….