Welcome to Low Stakes Hot Take, a regular column wherein one of us shares an impassioned opinion on a seemingly random topic that probably doesn’t matter much. Or—wait—does it?
For about 10 years, I did not look at my forehead. I more or less forgot I even had one. There are two reasons for this and the first is bangs. For 10 years, I had soft bangs that shrouded my skin from hairline to eyebrow arch and, because of that, I only caught brief glimpses of my forehead during the 20 seconds each day when my blow dryer gently moved my hair to and fro. The second is a little weirder but, basically, also roughly 10 years ago, I read an interview with a director who said he doesn’t look at his own face in the mirror for longer than it takes him to brush his teeth. Ever since I read it, I’ve pretty much done the same. Any longer could only cause trouble, I figured. Makes a lot of sense when you don’t really think about it!
So that’s why, when I decided to grow out my bangs after a decade of having them, I had pretty much no idea what was going on under there. And then, because of the second thing, it took me another year or so to notice that I had acquired three haphazard forehead wrinkles that looked like they’d been sliced in by a stoned paper-cutting bandit. There are two above each eyebrow, barely noticeable except for their lopsided-ness, and another deeper horizontal one about an inch above and between them. (It’s sort of like she’s the matriarch and the two eyebrow ones are her wayward children.)
Around the time I welcomed this new family onto my forehead, the rest of the world welcomed a very casual relationship with Botox. I know what you’re thinking—this person is about to sail into wrinkle-pos rhetoric and implore me to step away from the syringe, or maybe she’s about to announce that she’s moving to France where signs of women’s aging are not only accepted but thought of as sexy. No, this is not that. This is me saying that, as a policy, I don’t form opinions on what other people do with their bodies, BUT, if you want to be friends, it will be a lot faster and simpler for us if you leave the forehead wrinkles.
The reason is simple: If at around my age, 32, life has not caused you to raise your eyebrows frequently enough that your forehead is starting to show evidence of all that processing of information—the surprise, the concern, the 20 to 30 seconds of brow-furrowing what the fuuucckkk did that person just say, followed by drawing some conclusions about all of it—we may not have much to talk about. 2019 is really not the right time to look like you were born yesterday.
While considering all of this, I of course revisited Nora Ephron’s essay “I Feel Bad About My Neck.” Maybe my generation is just like Nora and her friends, except instead of turtlenecks we have Botox and bangs. But surely we’ve progressed since then? Did Nora feel bad about her neck so that we could eventually embrace our own epidermis? It sure would be nice if things had worked out that way. I personally am enjoying my own transition from completely oblivious to somewhat-random campaigner.
Obviously I must address the conditioning we’ve received to maintain our youth to attract romantic interests. Here’s what I’ve come up with: If you’ve got a problem with evidence of thought on my face… well, you’re looking for another kind of girl anyway. (Spirit of Nora Ephron speaks: We are no longer girls and have not been girls for forty years.) Okay, fine. Another kind of woman.
The other wrinkles? You can take them or leave them at the Poreless Palace on East 72nd Street. It’s forehead wrinkles that are the most important. Laugh lines? They could mean you have a sense of humor, which is nice, of course, or they could mean you’re smiling constantly, which is simply not appropriate! Crow’s feet? The squinting may be a sign that you’ve been attempting to perceive what’s going on in front of you, but they do not promise that any satisfying conclusions were drawn. (Our former squinter-in-chief George Bush is evidence that this face wrinkle simply does not go far enough.) There is only one wrinkle that proves your brain has really been chipping in all these years, and it is the forehead one.
And now for the disclaimer: Who’s to say I won’t eventually change my mind about my forehead wrinkles and want them gone? (God knows we never could have predicted what we’d want for our eyebrows.) All I ask is that if in some years you pass a suspiciously smooth-foreheaded version of me on the street, let this essay be proof that while I may be a hypocrite, at least we all know that at one point in time, I thought about it long and hard.
Photo via Getty Images.