No To A ‘Neck Thingie’

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - October 21, 2009
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I feel bad about my neck.

Well, actually, I don’t. I Feel Bad About My Neck is the title of a book by Nora Ephron, and I thought about it the other afternoon as I was grinding away on the treadmill. The physical exertion was supposed to be making me feel all vibrant and healthy, when I heard a schlocky TV lady telling me that nothing in life means a darn thing if you have a neck that is saggy and wrinkled.

Now, I know some people enjoy exercise. I’ve never been one of them but, hey, it’s necessary. I tend to do the minimum required to maintain a certain level of fitness and peace of mind. The treadmill is in the family room and yes, I use it, and no, not for hanging wet sweaters. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I actually look forward to the almost daily hour of sweaty hell.

So, getting back to my neck. Here I was slogging away on the torture machine - I mean the treadmill - when one of those dang infomercials popped up on the TV screen. Instead of fast forwarding through it, courtesy of the trusty DVR, I was riveted to the images. Women were rolling some weird thingie on their necks. The women were all gorgeous but they had one thing in common - they apparently all were terrified of having less-than-perfect necks. Now why they were scared beats the heck out of me. They all had Audrey Hepburn-like necks, so I haven’t a clue. But scared they were. Great, I thought, another body part to have to obsess about.


The on-air voice admonished me. She sounded concerned, urgent and completely rational, informing me that even though I will soon lose my youth and beauty it was OK, because if I use this ... thingamabob, I would have a smooth, slim, swanlike throat. I could throw away those black turtlenecks forever. I would look good again in tank tops and slinky dresses. Well, hurrah!

And sheeesh. Will it never end? Why this ongoing attempt to make us feel inadequate?

I went to my bookcase and found the Ephron book. If you’re a woman of a certain age and you haven’t read I Feel Bad About My Neck, it’s probably worth a look. It really isn’t about feeling nostalgic for youth and beauty, or chasing after it. It’s partly about accepting the loss of it and moving on.

It’s about fully experiencing life, letting go of the dream of perfection and abandoning the search for the fountain of youth. It’s about priorities and self-love. It’s about living right when you have the chance.

How many choices do we make every single day that deny us basic pleasures - because we hope it’ll lead to something better sometime in the hazy future?

How many times do we say no to that piece of chocolate, or avoid dessert because we think if we deprive ourselves today, we may get skinny again? Someday. It’s possible.

Sorry, most of us won’t ever get skinny again. At least, we’ll never be as skinny as we were in our glory days. And if we did manage to lose every single pound we’ve accumulated over the years, we’d look gaunt and skeletal, not sexy.

And I have a message for the perfect neck lady - and to everyone trying to sell me a miracle in a jar: People are supposed to be wrinkled when they’re 80.

One of my regrets is that, for years, I rarely went to the beach with my husband and son. We live in beautiful Hawaii and I avoided the beach. What’s up with that? I did it because I felt self-conscious and ugly and fat in a bathing suit. It was an irrational feeling, I know, and yet I allowed my fears and vanity to deprive me and my family one of the simple joys of island life. Silly? Of course it was, and I realize it now.

I won’t buy the neck thingie. Not only because I can’t remember what it was called, but also because I just don’t care about being perfect.

I will, however, continue to torture myself - I mean exercise - on the treadmill, but not because I want to fit into my old jeans. I’ll do it because it leads to better health and a clearer mind. The old jeans are getting tossed, along with everything else in my closet that I thought I would wear again “someday.”

And - I will go to the beach. And wear a swimsuit. I’ll do it because I don’t feel bad about any part of my body.

So, physical perfection? Eternal youth? Bah, humbug. Life is just too short to waste on trivial pursuits.

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