"It has always struck me as rather unfair that we can never see ourselves the way others see us, but maybe that's just as well," says humourist Julie Lewis
Smiling is bad for you and that's official. How do I know this? Because it shows on my face, that's how. Let me explain …
When I was in my mid-late 30s, I was frequently taken for someone as much as ten years younger. This was probably due to the fact that my face didn't have any wrinkles on it, at least not any that you would notice. Now, ten years later, I am frequently taken for someone as much as ten years older.
Well, OK, that's a slight exaggeration, but nobody thinks I look 38, that's for sure.
A lot of it is probably due to the old hormones kicking-in (or rather, kicking-out), but it goes deeper than that--as do the wrinkles. Recently I have taken to literally coating my face in various potions and lotions, all of which assure me they will drastically reduce my wrinkles. So far, the reduction has been noticeable, but not what I would term 'drastic'. However, there is plenty of time left for them to work their magic. And believe me, they will work their magic. They have to, I'm a desperate woman.
Wrinkles: She’s Forked
Anyway, during the application of one of my creams, I noticed that I had some very strangely shaped wrinkles, particularly the two that drop down diagonally from the sides of my mouth towards my jaw line. On the right-hand side of my face, there is just one, normal wrinkle. On the left-hand side, however, the wrinkle branches off at the bottom into a sort of fork, with the main part pointing outwards and the fork part pointing inwards.
It took a while, but eventually I realised that these two wrinkles are accentuated whenever I smile, but the odd thing is that the fork has been formed in the same way. In other words, when I smile, I smile with a fork.
No one has ever commented on my forked smile and I do wonder how it looks to other people, because of course no one looks the same 'in the flesh' as they do in a mirrored reflection. It has always struck me as rather unfair that we can never see ourselves the way others see us, but maybe that's just as well. I am sure that if I saw someone smiling at me with a fork I would be more than a little perturbed. You must admit that it does sound rather spooky.
I have tried practising my smile in the mirror and sort of twisting my mouth slightly so I can develop a forkless smile, but it won't work. No matter how hard I try, I remain a forked smiler, and twisting my mouth just makes me look like a forked smiler with a facial twitch, which I'm sure would be even more frightening to anyone I happened to smile at.
I find it very odd that I have lived for almost half a century and never noticed that I smile with a fork. Why has no one ever told me that I smile with a fork? Did they think it would upset me? It wouldn't have upset me anywhere near as much as finding out I was a forked smiler out of the blue like that, I can tell you.
Frowning isn't actually good for you either, of course. The frown lines in my forehead are so deeply etched-in that I can actually feel them if I run my fingers down my brow. They feel like furrows and I'm sure I could plant potatoes in them if I tried. The lotions and potions aren't doing too well in that area. My ex-partner told me the only thing that would help would be cement, so I have decided the easiest solution is to change my hairstyle and have a fringe.
Really, my frown lines aren't really frown lines anyway, they are concentration lines. All the years I have spent concentrating on this, that and the other have finally taken their toll. I have been penalised for being one of the most incredibly intelligent human beings on the planet.
Not to mention those ghastly vertical lines above my top lip, which give away to the whole world the fact that I am one of those nasty, dirty, anti-social leper-types – i.e., a (hushed tones) smoker. Smoking really does cause wrinkles, no doubt about that at all. Listen to the Woman with Forked Smile. She knows and it shows. And believe me, she's putting such a large amount of cream just above her top lip that the drips that run into her mouth are enough to make wrinkle cream part of her daily diet. She is also seriously considering taking testosterone supplements so she can grow a moustache.
What puzzles me most in all this is why I have smile lines at all when I rarely smile. Perfect strangers often come up to me in the street and say "Smile. It'll never happen". My answer to them has always been "It already has", but now I've expanded it. Now I say "It already has and I have the forks to prove it".
I am beginning to wonder if maybe I have spent almost half a century smiling furiously in my sleep and never been aware of it. Perhaps I have extremely exciting dreams. …