A couple of weeks ago I had my friend take a couple pictures of me using her portrait mode feature on her iPhone. This is a feature I do not have and am very sad about btw. Anyway…I am pretty awkward when it comes to taking solo pictures (where I care what I look like) so I looked at the pictures super briefly and then was like, “Ok yea great send those to me thanks.”
When I got home I began shuffling through them and noticed that I had these wrinkles all over my face. I had never noticed signs of myself aging so starkly and it threw me for a little bit of a loop. I hated every picture.
A couple days later I was talking to my friend about the pictures and my sadness around the changes I noticed in my skin. Instead of saying something around the lines of ”Yea ew let’s get botox” or “Oh my gosh you should try this new wrinkle cream!”
Her response was, “Kathryn those are laugh lines, not wrinkles.”
I ignored this comment for weeks until the other day when I pulled the pictures up again. I was wanting to post something since I hadn’t in a couple weeks.
“Kathryn those are laugh lines. . .” replayed in my head over and over as I swiped through the photos.
Then, I started thinking about what laugh lines are. I honestly wasn’t sure if laugh lines were just natural creases in your skin when you laugh or smile or signs of aging and just a fancy term for wrinkles. So… I looked it up.
According to Medical News Today, “Laugh lines are wrinkles or creases in the skin of a person’s face that appear around the outer corners of the mouth and eyes. The lines are most visible when a person smiles or laughs which is where the name comes from. Laugh lines are most commonly caused by the repetition of facial movements, including frowning, smiling, laughing, and any other facial expression.”
My laugh lines ARE wrinkles (womp). . . however, they come in large part from one of the most redeeming qualities I hold about myself- my joy, my smile, and my laugh. These lines that I thought were ruining my pictures were actually showing off to the world one of my greatest strengths. They are a direct result of my ability to let my light shine and my natural tendency to experience and display happiness.
Just like streams are created by a constant flow of water- these wrinkles on my face were created by a constant flow of laughter, smiling, and joy.
I know first hand how challenging it is to love parts of your body and your image that you don’t necessariliy like looking at directly. Nevertheless, through this experience I began to wonder more about what lens I am looking through rather than what I am actually looking at.
I can continue to look at my laugh lines through a lens of disgust and resentment. This lens would highlight my fear; fear of getting older, not being where I want in life, not looking perfect, someone else not liking what they see in me.
I can look at my laugh lines through a lens of gratitude. This lens would highlight my joy; joy for who I was created to be, my eagerness to laugh, the light which God has set fire to in my soul.
I like theses things. And you know what, I like that one of my most redeeming spiritual and emotional qualities is shown physically ON MY FACE.
The other day I heard someone talking about how who we think we are ends up being exactly who we are. I think there is a good amount of truth in this. My lens is my truth- and who I believe I am.
Today, I am a human who has experienced so much joy that the seasons of it show up on my face when I smile. Which is nice, you know, because it reminds me that the pain I feel at times, and the sadness that creeps up on me has less playing time than it can seem in my mind.
So, if this is what wrinkles really mean. . . bring on the wrinkles.