Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Skin care for the infertile

I am a little preoccupied with all things skin care right now. You see, to accompany the period pains, bloated body and general crapitude of another failed cycle, there is now a gigantic red spot above my right eye.

I say "spot" because that's what British people say when they refer to acne. To my mind this has always been rather less jarring and inoffensive than the word "zit". Spot can mean anything from a minor blemish to a more glaring defect. Whereas zit just seems to lump the whole spectrum of skin problems into one unpleasant category.

I always had pretty good skin as a teenager, but that changed when I hit thirty. Suddenly, my face was spot central. In an effort to combat what seemed like nigh on daily eruptions, I tried every wash, cleanser, blemish stick, oil remover, concealer and over the counter medicated goop known to womankind. I did everything right- never went to bed with make-up on, cleansed twice a day, gave myself gentle facials with soothing aromatherapy products, drank two litres of water a day, blah blah blah. And still the spots cropped up.

However, it wasn't so bad that I felt I had to go see a dermatologist. Except that one time.

Right around my final exams, I began to seriously wonder if I had accidentally contracted a case of facial leprosy. I covered it up as best I could, but it was really repulsive. I probably made it worse by the heavy layer of slap coating the scourge, but that was necessary, since short of placing a bag over my head, I felt I couldn't be seen in public without some camouflage. As it was, small children shrieked in horror at the sight of my visage. Grown men screamed, "My God, what the fuck is that?!" when they saw me coming.

It was therefore unfortunate that at the height of the outbreak, I chose to go out for a brisk run on my day off, wearing only the bare minimum of concealer. My keys fell out of my pocket somewhere along the way, and I had to go into the office for the spares- looking like a sweaty, oozing Swamp Thing. For added entertainment value, my then-boyfriend was at work that day, and he took one look at me before running to alert the Atlanta Center for Disease Control.

Some months later, I finally got a grip on the acne situation and it's never been as bad since. But any added stress still tends to make my skin flare up. Needless to say, infertility has not exactly been a boost in helping me keep my complexion dewy fresh. The problem is, I get a "starter spot", and then I agitate it by prodding it.

I know, I know, I know, I know, I knnnnnoooow- it's the worst thing you can do. You should leave it alone. Or, if you must deal with it, you should wait until it comes to a head and then gently, wearing new gloves made from the finest baby seal pup skin, do something with an extractor. (Not that I own one of those).

I know you should not go in, with oily fingers, touching it and under no circumstances should you squeeze it because that causes more trauma and possible scarring and....Look, for the love of Jesus Gay, can we just not talk about it. I can only moderate so much of my behaviour, and when I am stressed, I simply can't control myself on that front.

The result is typically a total mess. I spend an extra half hour in the morning doing artful things with my make-up to try to hide it. Apart from when I get really carried away, and then I am left with, for example, the thing currently above my right eye. It's so bright and glaring that if the runway flares at Heathrow airport fail at any time in the next few days, they know who to call.

So, I was sitting on the sofa last night, flicking through the channels, and a commercial came on for a new line of wrinkle cream. I don't know if they show this ad in the States, or if this is just a British version. It features a particular model whom I happen to detest for no reason other than she strikes me as even more useless and vacuous than other models, most of whom inspire me to no more than something akin to a vague dislike.

In this ad, the camera is angled up and the Model is sort of bending over, making cooing noises and playing peek-a-boo. The idea is that it is shot from the perspective of an infant in a crib. Annoying Voice Over Person proclaims that these kind of facial movements, i.e. "hello baby scrunchy giggles", can gives you lines and wrinkles! But wait! The new product, Botoxuloxo or whatever the fuck they have called it is meant to REDUCE YOUR LINES BY 454%. Thus removing the need to maintain a complete po-faced expression throughout your child's life . The ad finishes by Vacuous Model chirping, "Surgery can wait!"

This commerical offends me on so many levels. Arguably, the little subliminal plug for surgery irks me the most- the implication being since we're all going to end up looking like haggard old bitches one day, cosmetic surgery is inevitable. Particularly if we don't avail ourselves of Botulismlox as soon as possible. The message that making cute faces at your baby is going to do irreparable damage to your skin is also irritating.

But lastly, the notion that the wonderful benefits of Burpolox should be bestowed women with small babies seems to miss the mark somewhat. Clearly, the marketing people have never spent time in the company of an infertile woman! I mean, dear Loward, just think of the range of expressions infertile faces go through.

For example:

- The "we're only having sex tonight because I am ovulating, but I know that would hurt your feelings so I am pretending to enjoy it and have an orgasm" face.

- Teeth clenching, having just received assvice from someone who should know better.

- Squinting of eyes and craning of neck whilst holding negative HPT up to the light to inspect for the phantom second line.

- The plastered on fake smile when a colleague announces the news of her latest happy "accident".

- The open mouthed gawp disbelief when the hospital call to reschedule your appointment for the sixth time.

And there are so many more I have yet to experience. Yee gads, I'll be wrinkletastic at the rate I am going.

If there is a market for Browfreezerlox for those women whose faces are really showing some wear and tear, surely infertiles are a much better bet?


At 3:58 PM, Blogger Toni said...

They have this show over here in the US - not sure if they have it over there - something to do with the Miami plastic surgery world (can't remember the name - but it's reality tv). Reminds me of what you're talking about (the commerical). All these beautiful people who continue to get themselves tucked and proded just to look even 'better' (to me, they just look fake).

Thanks for the laugh. I hope your spot goes away soon.

At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post...sing it sister, I couldn't have said it better myself. There was an ad I saw years ago that irked me, still was an ad for fur (this was a LONG time ago) giving excuses why it's a good reason to buy fur (as if) and the ad showed, "This is my so and so reason fur," ect. and there was a gorgeous model pushing a baby carriage saying, "This is my I-just-had-a-baby fur". Still irritates me, what must be 20 years later. Your description of that commercial reminded me of that and how much it annoyed me.

Kind of like the new ads from the diamond companies about the necessity for a 'right-hand ring'. Oh puleeze!


At 5:09 PM, Blogger JJ said...

FYI - I've had luck with the Tea Tree line at Body Shop. Not sure if you have it over there, but it's the only thing that's worked for me so far.

At 6:44 PM, Blogger Dee said...

Mare, lurved your post (ho hum, what else is new?)--thanks for the laugh!

Also, I've had great success with treating my spots--indeed, that does sound so much better than our standard American "zits"--with Clinique's Acne Solutions spot healing gel (apparently they agree that "spot" sounds better than calling it "zit healing gel").

It's a little 'tube-ish' bottle that retails for like $12 U.S. Just a small dab on the offending spot and, voila!, gone in a day or two max (with perhaps some slight flaking in the spot's area since it dries it out so much). The fact that it works for me is no small miracle 'cause I'm one oily barren beyatch!


At 10:48 PM, Blogger Soper said...

There is a tradition in my family that will not translate well into the written word, but since you are an international call don't EVEN think I'm gonna track you down and do this for you:

picture adorable, slim brunette with long, bouncy hair pulled back into a trim ponytail accented with D&G hair tie, getting ready to sing. Now picure me beating the crap out of her. Singing begins, slow and off-key:

H-a-pppppp-y Birth-daaaaaaay to yo-u,
H-a-pppppp-y Birth-daaaaaaay to yo-u,
(meanwhile background singers begin singing same song on the off beat, singing in a different key, with a different rhythm)
H-a-pppppp-y Birth-daaaaaaay to Mare-y,
H-a-pppppp-y Birth-daaaaaaay to yooooooo-u!

See, doesn't translate well. It's really funny in person, especially when my whole family does it in their own key and at their own pace. *sigh* ANWAY, hoppy barf day!


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