I remember the first time I realised that humans got 'smile-wrinkles': I was about nine years old and in my Ah Kong's house, my Chinese grandfather's house. As he walked by I noticed he had deep lines stemming from the sides of his nose and ending just below the sides of his mouth. I remember thinking "How odd, Ah Kong never smiles". I always had him down as a man who showed his love through his eyes and through his actions - an entirely selfless man who took no luxuries in his life and gave everything he had to those around him. And I remember thinking, "Maybe he smiles when no one is looking for all the good he does".
Now I'm 23 and am starting to get a very faint smile-line on the left side of my mouth. My initial reaction when I noticed this was "Oh no! I'm starting to age!"
What a sad, sad thought. I wish that my initial reaction had been, "23 and already smiled enough to start getting a smile-line. You lucky thing!"
Imagine if I died at 40 without having smiled enough to start getting a smile-wrinkle, even on one side of my face. Not even half-smiled enough for my skin to start committing my joy to my map because I'd been too absorbed in my vanity, chasing away the grey hairs earned with wisdom and the crow's feet that come when we embrace laughter with both wings, over and over again.
I'm not even there yet but I can already see that this is just the next stage of being sold unattainable dreams. "Once you're past the point of spending all your time, energy, emotion and money trying to achieve the body ideal we push in your face, you'll need to start stopping time. It's easy if you spend X amount of your income each month on these products that will do nothing for you but kill your self-esteem by having you face a constant reminder that other women look younger and are therefore more desirable than you are - just look at the youthful, retouched model on this box of pointless product you bought!"
And I notice that it's all about women. What's the female version of a silver fox? I don't own a TV/watch movies so I admit I'm largely going off billboards and window campaigns, but it seems as though male celebrities in their 50s are portrayed as charming and attractively mature whilst 50-something women are hidden away. 50 is more than my entire lifetime away from where I am now, and I imagine by the time I get there I'll be so much more interesting and articulate than I am now. So why if I flick through 15 channels will I see a predominance of 20-something women? I want to hear the stories of deep smile-lines, and I hope that I learn to be proud of the etchings of my life as they draw themselves across my skin.