I have wrinkles at age 20—and that’s OK

I am a whopping twenty years old. I still live at home and I am not 100% on my own just yet. But I already have wrinkles. Yes, wrinkles. Right by the corners of my eyes and mouth. I first started to realize their existence a few months ago after one of those times where you’re over-examining yourself in the mirror.  I felt the instant need to search for my mother’s wrinkle cream in the cabinet, but the weird-scented tub of goop did not appeal enough to me to actually apply it on my face.

Next came comparing myself to all the women I walked by. I would stare at my friends’ faces, searching for their wrinkles just to make myself feel better about mine. Some of my friends did not have a single crinkle or line on their face. When they smiled, the skin would bounce back like a baby’s new and supple skin. But I also have friends who have wrinkles like me. They were so cute, to see them smile and then have a little reminder of their happiness imprinted on their face. So I started to like the unique creases on mine.

My grandparents have always told me to wear hats and sunscreen to protect myself from the sun because it will cause wrinkles and freckles. As a beach girl from Southern California, all I do is live in the sunshine, so a wrinkle and freckle or two is inevitable. I have listened to my grandma complain about the extra skin on her neck for as long as I can remember. And for about the last three years, I have heard my mother complain about the same thing. We have had to retake and astonishing number of photos because of this insecurity.  But I could never understand why someone would complain about something that is meant to happen in life. This is a biological truth that we must all face. We are all going to age and get wrinkles, freckles, and gray hair.

Recently my mother was trying on a cute, summery tank top and it looked great on her. But she rejected it because she did not like the way her freckled, “saggy arms” looked in it.  She told me about some of her best friends getting freckles lasered away and getting botox for wrinkles. Women should be able to do what they want with their bodies, of course. If Botox and lasers are for you, than go forth and have fun. But for me, I decided that I would try my best not to worry so much about the little laugh lines around my eyes, the ones that will only deepen with age.

Society tells us that we have to be perfect: smooth skin, taut arms, no freckles, no sagginess, no “imperfections” until the day we die. But women are so much more varied and interesting-looking than that. Bodies change with age, and they should. You are still you no matter what you look like or what age you are.

To me, now, I’ve started feeling sentimental about every wrinkle, freckle, or scar. To me it says, “Hey, you lived a life that you enjoyed! You smiled and laughed! Spent life soaking in the sun and being adventurous! You have stories to tell!” I know that I’m only 20, but I’m hoping I can hang on to that feeling. That is why I have accepted my wrinkles. True, they will be more accentuated in ten years’ time and I will probably have a few new ones; but they will just be a reminder of how much fun I had in college and from being a younger me. Whenever I notice new freckles after a day at the beach or an active afternoon of hiking, I smile and think “Welcome to the family!”Caitlin Shield is from Orange County in Southern California. If you can’t find her, she’s probably at the beach. She dreams of backpacking through Europe one day but only after she graduates from college. [Image via iStock]

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