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My 54-Year-Old Face
Meg Waite Clayton faces the facts of her 54-year-old face, without makeup, unadorned.

By Meg Waite Clayton

When my friend Mimm asked if I'd agree to be photographed makeup-free for a book of photos of bare-faced women, how could I decline? In my novels, friends are forever baring themselves in one way or another as they drill down to who they are and who they want to be. I don't even wear much makeup. I'm pretty happy with who I am at 54 ... except in photographs.

Still, I said yes. I'm used to dreadful photos of me popping up all over the internet, and it seemed such a fabulous idea: to show real women wearing the stuff of our lives in the lines on our faces. Our eyes may not be as bright and white as they once were but we take in joy more greedily. The sorrow in our creased necks allows us better to appreciate the non-sorrow rest of life.

Yet it was daunting. When the photographer contacted me, I was busy, then out of town. When the date we settled on came, my face was all blotchy -- an allergic reaction to a moisturizer I started using in hopes of unpacking a few years from the bags under my eyes. I did what any reasonable person would do under the circumstances: I said I had to be out of town, and hoped no one would find out otherwise. We rescheduled for May. Could I find a better moisturizer by May? Could I lose ten pounds?

When Meggi arrived, finally, I was but two pounds thinner and no smoother skinned. Again I did what any reasonable person would: I hid behind my dog. What thing in life isn't more bearable with a loyal golden retriever blocking the view of the lines on your neck?

In the photo, Frodo's furry-faced smile is adorable even if his teeth are no whiter than mine, and more in need of orthodontia. His eyes are delightful ... even without his mascara. I look as happy as he does in our photo, too. Happier than the me in all those bad internet photos, hiding behind eye shadow and blush.
 
With a Perspective, I'm Meg Waite Clayton.

Meg Waite Clayton is the author of four nevels. She lives in Palo Alto.

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