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Tracy Beckerman Headshot

Losing the Aging Game by a Hair

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I'm one of those really, really lucky women who is fortunate enough to be blessed with both pimples and wrinkles at the same time. One would think that if my skin was oily enough to generate pimples, it would keep me from getting wrinkles. But, no ... That would only make sense in a universe where women did not get hemorrhoids when they gave birth and did not have their triceps suddenly drop and turn into bat wings after they hit 40. I suppose I could blame the bat wings on a genetic predisposition. After all, my mother had them, her mother had them, and her mother before her. They seemed to have been handed down from generation to generation like the bad brisket recipe that has been in my family since our time as slaves in Egypt. I'm not sure what purpose they served in the old days, but with most of my more recent ancestors retiring to Florida for the winter, I often wondered if perhaps the bat wings were meant to facilitate faster air travel back to New York in the summer.

While genealogy could account for the upper arm jiggle, the hemorrhoids were clearly just a byproduct of pregnancy: the result of trying to push the equivalent of an elephant though a sunroof ... twice. I also had pregnancy to thank for a flabby belly that never quite went back into shape no matter how many sit ups I did and the deflated boobs that dropped precariously to the floor post breast-feeding. Clearly, children are the gift that keep on giving.

Neither ancestry nor pregnancy, however, could explain the pimples/wrinkles issue. However, at some point I decided I had to stop looking to assign blame and just figure out a way to deal with this dermatological doubleheader. After trying a number of over the counter remedies I finally caved and sought out the help of a professional. Peering over my pores and fine lines under a bright light with a massive magnifying glass, my dermatologist announced her findings.

"The pimples are hormonal. We have some pills you can take for that. The lines are from smoking years ago. We can inject those. But what do you want to do about the chin hairs?"
Silence filled the room as the words hung in the air like a stealth dog fart.

"The WHAT?" I finally bellowed.

I grabbed the magnifying glass from her and stared into the mirror she handed me. As she tilted the light onto my chin, I saw the truth that had been hiding from me in my own dimly lit bathroom.

"AUGHHHH!" I yelled. "Those aren't mine! Where did those come from?"

"The same hormones that are causing the acne," she said sympathetically.

"No, I think they fell off my husband's head and somehow implanted into my open pores," I protested.

"It doesn't work that way," she assured me. "I'm afraid you have just joined the ranks of the peri-menopausal hormonally challenged."

"This is not cool," I said. "I was just recently thinking about changing my hairstyle, not growing a goatee."

"You know," I continued. "I have teenagers and I'm kind of okay with the fact that we both have pimples at the same time. I'm not okay with the fact that my teenage son and I are getting facial hair at the same time!"

I thought about all the things I had looked forward to as I grew older. Being designated The Incredible Bearded Woman in the next edition of Ripley's Believe it or Not was not one of them. Of course the good news was I could probably get a job as a checkout girl at my local dollar store if I wanted one since female facial hair seemed to be a prerequisite for employment there. However, I just didn't think the medical benefits would cover the electroshock therapy I would need from the realization that I could now compete in the World Mustache and Beard Competition, and maybe even win.

"What am I going to do about this?" I asked my dermatologist.

"Wax or tweeze to get rid of it temporarily. Electrolysis to get rid of it permanently. There are some creams you can apply that can slow down the growth process, too."

I stroked my chin absentmindly while I deliberated over my options, suddenly realizing with a start that I had stubble.

"I'm too young to have bat wings and chin hairs," I wailed. "I don't even know how to play Bridge or Mahjong!"

After spending a few more minutes mourning my lost youth, I opted for a combination cream/tweeze solution, packed up what was left of my dignity and went home. I immediately bolted to the bathroom to begin the process of reclaiming my formerly hairless chin, but I had no sooner tweezed my first hair then my daughter burst into the room.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Don't you knock?" I wondered. She shrugged.

"I just discovered I am growing hair out of my chin, which is typically not a good look for a woman, you know, and I'm kind of upset about it," I admitted.

"Oh Mom, that's just outside stuff," she said emphatically. "When you're a good person, you're beautiful on the inside and that's what's important."

If she had been an adult, I might have rolled my eyes cynically. But from a kid, it was the ultimate compliment.

I gave her a hug. "Thanks, Sweetie. I think you're beautiful, too."

"I know," she said, and then leaned in and peered closely at my head.

"Hey Mom, did you know you have a ton of gray hairs on the back of your head?"