I was pretty obsessed with Ally McBeal when I was sixteen. Ally just had it going on. The short skirts, the job that came with a unisex bathroom, the constant slew of men, the slow motion seven minute walk at the end of every single episode. The pout. But in every single season she has a birthday episode where she stands in front of a mirror and pokes and pulls her face, wondering why gravity is no longer her friend. Sixteen year old me thought- “that will never be me.”

But then I turned 25 and I noticed what I thought was my very first wrinkle in the corner of my eyebrow. And I realised, this tomfoolery is REAL.

Perhaps what I’m more perplexed with is the fact that at 27 my skin is just as blotchy and spotty as fourteen year old me. I don’t think that’s supposed to happen. At least that’s what people assured me when I was a teenager, so I put off worrying about it. But here I am in my late twenties, and I’m discovering that actually people my age don’t typically have bad skin because they are professionals who have bags of money to buy expensive products or treatments designed to correct something that I’ll probably still be dealing with as a grandmother.

The older I get, the more precious my skin is to me. I take time over it. I case it in clay, that hardens and tingled in a not-nice way. I buy it lotions and potions. I poke at it, twease it, pull it. I can’t let myself fall asleep without attending to it. When it’s sunny I’m all worried over it and where I once didn’t care and enjoyed my book by the pool, now I never get past chapter one because every 8 and a half minutes I’m re-applying and embalming. I’m convinced it’s one of the things preparing me for the demands of child-rearing with the attention it requires.

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