The movie Mommy Dearest
has haunted me since childhood. The story of a Joan Crawford
and her dealings with the child she adopted in lieu of marring her own body by getting pregnant
. It seemed that she even adopted the girl and her brother as a publicity stunt
and had no intention of raising them to be anything but props for her fame.
The opening scenes and a few others throughout the movie show Joan going through a very coarse ritual of facial cleansing. She literally scrubbed her face with brushes, slathered on creams and lotions, then strapped on these tight elastic bandages around her forehead and chin, I assume, in an effort to fend off lines. As the movie goes on, her age starts to take its toll on her career, and she fights it all the way.
I had never had particularly bad skin as a teen. I have this one video of high school where I brought a video camera to school for no reason but to see the people's reaction. As a result of the camera belonging to my older brother and my hatred for being photographed in any sense, you will not see me on the tape much at all. I've shown it to my friends now to document how bad we all were our hair back then and they've often tell me that in comparison to the other girls in the video, who were more cursed with acne than I was at the time, I was very pretty. They wonder why I tell them I was social outcast back then. But the trick is, I didn't feel pretty then and seldom do now.
There are so many chemicals and lotions you can buy now for your face. When I was a teen, I religiously searched for new ways to improve my looks. Masks, steams, treatments, you name it. Something just always seemed wrong with my face and I strove to fix it, but after a while I gave up. Now I just use St. Ives products and leave it at that.
But I do still think about Joan Crawford, how she didn't care how ridiculous she appeared when she raged against time. She had no shame. Most women of her time didn't. They took even more drastic measures than we do now, hugging their hips in girdles, shaving off their eyebrows only to pencil them in with precision. In contrast, while I never felt beautiful, I still think I got off easy.