Tuesday, February 07, 2012

In which we discuss the ravages of time.......

This will also be called The Reason Why It Is Imperative That We Smile All The Time. 

Do you all have the same rules for documents that we do? You may not smile at all. Serious expression is required for all passport and driver's licence photos. Just peachy. So I look 25 years older in my passport photo. Why are we not allowed to have even a faint grin? I have a theory about it making us all insecure at border posts, you see, so the intimidating border control officer scrutinises the photo over and over and the more you try to smile faintly (or grin cheesily) the less you look like the dreadful photo he is looking at. 

And have you recently met a border contol officer who smiles in any way at all?? I say recently, because there was a time when they were not all 12, and they had learned that it is much easier to disarm with charm (and catch any illegal alien or smuggler off guard) and also, be welcoming to the country you were entering. It would be so nice to be grinned at and have someone say "Welcome home!" now and then. Or have someone smile and tell me to enjoy my stay in their country. 

Sigh.

Things are not what they used to be. 

And speaking of not what they used to be, I have been discussing the ravages of time with my friends. There have been a series of unposed photos of me in recent months. (Yes, David, I am talking about you!) I look too dreadful for words when I am not grinning like a Cheshire cat for the camera, with the head tilted at the right angle to avoid jowls, the camera far away enough to lose any lines, and so help me, the camera has to ALWAYS be higher, and NEVER lower than me. That means never ever let anyone take a photo of you while you are sitting in a chair and they are on the floor. Disaster. 

If I am concentrating on something, reading, thinking, whatever, and not grinning, my cheeks are heavy, my mouth is smaller and the lines around my mouth are deeper and arrow downward, making me look like a miserable old woman who it would be best to avoid. At all costs. There are lines everywhere as I try to focus through the specs and that makes things even worse, if that were remotely possible. Trying to see properly makes me frown as I screw up the eyes and they get even smaller and we DO NOT WANT TO THINK ABOUT WORSE. Intimidating? Probably. Definitely. Mind you, this face should be ok for court perhaps. 
Shudder.
 Maybe not. 

I don't think I would want to get to know this person. 

Serious and unsmiling
 There are lines around the eyes, but you can't see them here. I just hope I don't look like this all the time. It horrifies me and makes me want to call the 10 Years Younger team to arrange immediate plastic surgery. Or I could arrange for someone to gather up all the skin on the face and yank it up a bit and tie it on top of the head with a bow. Then I could develop a new line in Marge Simpson hair styles to hide the excess skin. 

Anyway. Just look what a faint smile does to the image. (And admit, people that I am amazingly brave to put these photos here today.) Yes, the cheeks get wider. And the eyes get a little smaller....did I mention that the eyelids seem to be heading south like the rest of me???? But I think I may want to talk to this person. This is how I think our passport photos should be. Sort of. 
Faint grin
 And then, this, you see is how I think of myself. Only, I suspect that the first photo is more like the way the world sees me. If I grin at the passport officer, this is what I would look like. No wonder the man stands and stares at the photo so long. We all look so totally miserable. 

There was a time when the skin was taut(er) and far more elastic, and the lines were never there, and the eyes were wider and brighter and not hidden by the drooping eyelids. The bags under the eyes (which I have just seen in this photo below, to my utter horror) did not exist. And can you believe that I never realised eyes were probably different sizes until just recently? Mind you, I have never spent hours peering into the mirror, or I may have noticed it before. Apparently this is absolutely normal. Yes, you may now rush to the mirror and check. Smile and see what happens to the size of the eyes, and then do NOT come back and tell me yours are identical sizes or I may wail, and then my bags under the eyes will get bigger and the eyes more puffy and......... 

And the cheeks were not so baggy either....I could go on and on, but I am depressing myself. Groan. Time???? It marches on. 

Grinning
Smiling exercises the cheek muscles. I - WE - need to smile more. All the time. I can just see the cheesy grins right now. Baring the teeth like Missy does when told to smile for the camera. Yes, go on, practice right now. I am, as I speak. 

It is quite obvious that we should have read the small print about aging. You want to know what you look like when you are concentrating on something? That could be on a book, sewing, working, reading, anything. Well, get a random child, husband, friend to snap a few unposed photos. And for heaven's sake, do not peer upward through the specs to see  anything. You will look like an elderly cockerel. Or maybe that is just me. Poke those glasses back to the proper place on your nose. Mine slip down. Yes, I know I need new ones too, but that can wait. I do not need to discover that the situation of the aging Linds is actually far worse through new-proper-prescription-glasses. It is bad enough as it is. 

Let me be clear here, I am not in pursuit of my youth. I am just in pursuit of something to stop the sagging. The lines come from living. So do the grey hairs. 57 years of life leave their mark, as do all the things we experience along the way and they are badges of honour. The medals, if you like. I used to think about that of stretch marks. If I got to 57 with no visible altering of appearance, I might start to believe I was a doll. Time cannot be halted. 

But then, if you had a driver's licence photo which made you look like a warder from Belsen, you may also despair. 
Oh help
 Thank heaven my photo for my Swiss rail card can be used for 10 years. It makes me grin every time I haul it out. 
This will do nicely thankyouverymuch
The moral of the story is simple. 
Smile. 
Smile through everything. No matter what life throws at you, smile. It will draw people to you, it will lift your spirits. It will make a huge difference in your attitude. It may make other people happy too. It will start the process of recognising joy. 

It will also exercise those cheeks and hopefully stop the sagging process.
Trying to reverse the process at my age will require a major miracle.  

12 comments:

Stripeyspots said...

I'm smiling after all that!

MotherT said...

This is a conversation I have had many times with my daughters & grandchildren. Besides smiling making you look younger & more approachable, it's amazing the responses you get from complete strangers!

Keep your smile going, Linds!

Helen in Switzerland said...

Well I've clearly only seen you smiling!! The non-smiling photos are not even recognizable as you - I can't believe you EVER really look like that.
My own remedy regarding wrinkles is to keep my face moving at all times and then nobody can see the crevices!!

Vee said...

You made me smile. I see your point, but I very much doubt that you spend a lot of time looking so totally grim and serious as that first photo.

My sis goes to the dermatologist for a lasering every six months. She has fair skin and it's for health reasons...sun damage and the like...she looks so fabulous afterward that I'm always tempted to call and make an appointment.

Oh, this will make you grin. The other day, I was eating something...right...and John said, "Oh you wouldn't want me to take a picture right now." That one comment has given me pause ever since. LOL!

Have a great afternoon and evening, Linds!

Needled Mom said...

Catching up a bit....it looks like you got a good winter blast there. Oh my.

I agree that smiles should be allowed. After waiting in a line to get through sceurity at the airport yesterday - for over one hour!!!! - I am afraid that my appearance looked more like the no smile picture!

PEA said...

Here in Canada we cannot smile for our passport or driver's license picture either and I always say we look like a bunch of prison inmates! I'll never forget when I went to have my passport picture taken. The girl said wipe off all your makeup, brush your hair back behind your ears and don't smile...I was horrified when I saw it, it doesn't even look like me! I never go out without a bit of makeup on (mascara and lipstick) and I never have my hair back like that, behind my ears. Wouldn't it be better if they took a picture of us as we look like on an every day basis instead of the poor border guard not seeing any resemblance at all??? Well anyway, you really did make me smile while reading this post:-) xoxo

Becky said...

They do allow us to smile, but for the passport photos they must be able to see our eyes clearly.

I'm definitely smiling after reading this. You are so entertaining, whether you intend to be or not.

Linda said...

After reading the title of your post, I was almost too afraid to read it! I spend very little time looking at myself in the mirror these days and really hate any picture I ever take. However...I have resigned myself to the fact that I really am getting old and it is all part of the package.
Our ever practical Pastor was talking about heaven this past weekend. He said aging is just inevitable and we would receive much greater satisfaction giving money to build a water well in Africa than spending a fortune trying to nip, tuck, etc ourselves into perpetual youth :-)
Some day we've going to have bodies that never grow old. I'm looking forward to that.
And yes, you are very brave. There is no way I would every post either my license or passport pictures. Scarey!

Chris said...

You, my friend, are a bright spot in my day! I am so thankful God brought us together.

I shall valiantly endeavor to keep that stiff uppah lip whilst smiling all the while! :):):)

Dawn said...

Okay, I know that LOL is what I probably should say right now, it is absolutely true - I literally belly chuckled through this whole thing. I look at people from choir in church and want to yell out "Smile!" Our choir director is on us all the time to smile while we're singing - to portray that we know of what we sing!

But, oh, my, those impromptu pictures are just awful - I don't even like posed pics of myself any more. And my worst nightmare is seeing myself in my computer screen, because I have my head down a bit and the jowls and double chin are in total prominence - YUCK!!

And the eyelids - wow, I just noticed recently that if I were still wearing contacts, I would look just awful. Glasses can hide a multitude of sins, though I hate them. I guess I won't get my eyes lasered after all, unless they fix my eyelids at the same time.

Oh, dear, the ravages of time are many and scary.

Thanks for a great start to the day, and to reassure me that I am not alone!

Dawn said...

OH, I forgot - I just recently had to give up my very old driver's license, which had a picture I really liked - the first one ever that I didn't cringe every time I got it out to show someone. I detest the new picture. And I will NOT be posting it, you brave lady!

Janine said...

My latest driver's licence picture is a beaut - I have hugh dark circles under my eyes (sinus) and I look about 450 in the shade. Good luck to someone trying to figure out that it is actually me!