Elephant Skin, Grinning Corpse Face, and Fighting Gravity

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Elephants are cute but wrinkly.
Elephants are cute but wrinkly.

Let me just come out and say that I will be 43 this weekend. I’m not soliciting gifts or cake, I just want you to understand that when I say that the skin between my eyes is starting to resemble an elephant’s knee, I’m not exaggerating.

This isn’t a self-pitying blog where I’m zooming in on some tiny flaw and blowing it out of proportion for pity compliments. I’m losing elasticity. It’s ok—it’s age-appropriate. Not only that, but in the last year I have lost seventeen pounds. I only set out to lose seven, but then some of my remaining fat cells saw all their friends leaving and they followed them in solidarity. Or it was because I have been exercising six days a week for the last eight months and low carb dieting. It could go either way.

But the point is that all those happy little fat cells filled in my face and plumped up my wrinkles. My ass is high and firm but my face is slightly deflated. And while I could use this as an excuse to find balance through cupcakes and eat more carbs and fluff out my forehead, I am in the best shape of my life, and I like how that feels.

Don’t worry, this is not really an exercise blog. You can relax.

You see, gravity’s a drag. Sincerely. (I have banned the word literally in my house.) It pulls your sternum towards your belly button and your shoulders towards your hips. It does very unflattering things to the skin on your knees and elbows. But since I started exercising, my posture is better, and my upper arms no longer wave bye-bye after I have stopped moving my hands. I am holding gravity at bay.


Between my eyes I have the beginnings of an eleven forming, and of all my wrinkles, I find this pair the most appalling. Elevens are frown lines. Not only are they the scarlet letter of an unhappy life, but they also end in a stretched out elephant-knee looking place between my eyes. You know what elephant skin is good for? Collecting oil and forming pimples. So my elephant-knee-between-the-eye-skin has presented me with three tiny pimples for my birthday. I don’t care for this even a little bit.

So, yesterday I was in the car for five hours. The sun was shining and I was listening to an audible book and drinking my energy drink and feeling pretty happy. I had no internet to convince me that the world wasn’t a great place. And without the ability to do a word search puzzle or look for Pokémon or any of the zillions of ways I normally entertain myself when I’m alone and off-line, I let my mind wander. I also was doing isometric holds with my stomach and biceps in an effort to tone or stay alert, because it seemed like a thing to do.

I started wondering, if I can exercise my body by squeezing and holding a muscle, what about my face? I mean, underneath my middle-aged wrinkly skin there are supposed to be muscles, right? So I made the biggest grin I could muster while raising my eyebrows as high as I could in a surprised-corpse fashion. I decided not to care what other drivers thought of me. Besides, if they saw me again, in say the grocery store, I wouldn’t be doing the surprised-corpse-grin thing, and therefore they wouldn’t recognize me anyway. People tend not to notice your other features when you are grinning like a happy skull and driving by at seventy miles an hour.

Happy skull! Yay!
Happy skull! Yay!

So I made the extreme happy face and held it for the count of five, then released. I repeated this over and over until I got to my destination. I noticed that my forehead felt tighter. My lips turned up at the corners when my face was relaxed. And if you have ever read any of that whole “fake it till you make it” type of advice, it really is true that smiling—even for no reason other than trying to reduce elephant skin—does make you happy. It’s like I tricked my brain. In fact, I was so happy that I forgot to look in the mirror to see if it made a noticeable change, because one thing I have learned is never to use a magnifying mirror when you feel good about yourself, because it will do everything in its power to destroy any self-esteem you have.

When I finally got to where I was going, I picked up my SigO and we went to a party at the neighbor’s place. The hostess commented that I looked glowy and beautiful and happy, which is exactly how I want to look, whether or not it actually improved my elevens.

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