Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Save Face

I am unabashedly obsessed with skincare.

It began in junior high at my hoity-toity private school, where my extremely pale face earned me the nickname “Zombie Girl.” I clearly recall walking into Science (Mrs. Lyons - great teacher, saved the baby rats from being snake food and gave them to me to take home, bless her heart, thereby becoming “Rat Girl” as well) and the ringleader of it all, scrawny, pimply-faced Maxwell Baumhefner, yelling “EWWW!!! Smells like formaldehyde! Dead girl! ZOMBIE girl!” And so the chanting began.

The damage this caused my adolescent psyche will no doubt someday be measured by the wrinkles on my face, given that I subsequently spent every spare moment of my time (of which you have many, when you are 12 and live in Healdsburg) spread-eagle and bikini-clad on my parent’s roof deck, ruthlessly frying myself to a crisp. Upon surveying my (burn) tan lines I daydreamed of one day sashaying confidently into Science, deep island glow glistening, nonchalantly tossing my luxurious mane of golden blond. In my fantasy, boys’ jaws dropped and girls loathed me on sight. Mrs. Lyons tried desperately to control the class as I burst into a rousing chorus of “You’re the One That I Want” from “Grease,” leaping nimbly from desk to desk, leading my hypnotized classmates Pied Piper-like out of the room to dance on the balcony, awed and adoring, snapping their fingers in time. In reality, I was a knobby-kneed 80-pounder, an awkward, spastic collection of lanky limbs tucked under a disheveled head of limp white straw.

Upon reaching high school, a new deity entered my life: my child, behold the glory of Seventeen magazine. My father was sent a free subscription for his office and brought an issue home one night. The moment the smooth, gleaming pages were deposited into my hungry little hands, I was a convert. This would change my life! I could no doubt benefit from Beauty Secrets of the Cutest Cheerleaders and Are You and Your Crush Compatible? 14 pages of The Best Spring Shoes? Clearly I would become the most popular girl in school, stat!

Sadly, this did not occur. What my many hours of consumer worship and obsession did provide was a loyal appreciation of good skincare. I feverishly embraced my pale face, slathering on anything and everything – face masks pilfered from friends’ mothers’ vanities, samples snatched from mall cosmetics counters. I enjoyed self-proclaimed Maintenance Days, scrubbing, loofahing, moisturizing and polishing my skin into teenage pseudo-perfection. I devoted countless weekends to my quest for the best sunblock, dragging reluctant tomboyish girlfriends to the local RiteAid to join me in my crusade. Words swam endlessly through my head, taunting me mercilessly…sun damage, wrinkles, pores, age spots, certain death. As God was my witness, I would never be tan again!

These days, my busy grown-up life largely prevents such narcissistic frivolity. Although I am far less militant, I am still known as the Sunblock Nazi amongst my circle of girlfriends, and I did dedicate several precious hours of my Parisian honeymoon to a mission for my favorite French sunblock (yes, my husband is a very patient man). And sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly indulgent, I sequester myself in my bathroom with a stack of magazines, a bath of bubbles, and have myself a Maintenance Day.

After all, if you can’t pamper yourself, how do you expect anyone else to do it for you?

Save your skin! Avoid damaging chemicals in your products. Check out my favorite new site: Skin Deep - a service of the Environmental Working Group.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Hee hee. I'm the only person I know who where's sunblock EVERY day. Even when I know I am not going to leave the house. What if some comes through the window?