“I want to know how I can have acne AND gray hair at the same time?” the new fireline paramedic echoed my own internal conversation. It was ironic, since I had noticed earlier that morning what a beautiful rosy complexion she had, and I was jealous. This was only hours before she caught me plucking gray hairs in my rear view mirror. Not that beauty is the most important thing out here on the fireline. Far from it. The most important thing is, of course, food. Then sleep. Then safety (Safety 3rd!). And maybe after all of those, beauty falls in rank.
I have never been much of a beauty expert, as evidenced in my make-up application skill level (or lack thereof) and generally unkempt hair. But according to three real aestheticians I know, and one self-proclaimed one, John Tesh, the Beauty Experts at Cosmopolitan Magazine and the back of my Lip Smackers package, there are a lot of really easy tips and tricks for staying beautiful even under the harshest of conditions. Like say, photographer’s lighting systems and long Metro Rides, or air that is filled with both smoke and dust particulates in clearly visible but immeasurable quantities for days at a time.
(For the record, until about six years ago I assumed an aesthetician was somebody who taught people how to have good taste [as in aesthetics], like a dietician teaches people to eat good[?] food.)
I read once, or maybe heard it on John Tesh (if you can’t tell, I a major fan), that we tend to have acne breakouts on the side of our face that we sleep on since our pillowcases harbor bacteria and dirt from… well, Iife, I guess. That makes sense since at this moment my own pillow is nestled between a Very Dirty Transverse Rescue System that has seen the back of too many fire pickups, my hardhat and a combi-tool (a shovel/pick combination that I carry on the line).
This probably explains the residual break out on my right cheek because I can’t really sleep on my left side with a torn labrum in my left hip and an undiagnosed pain in my left shoulder. Sleeping on my right side isn’t a whole lot better since I have a torn labrum in my right shoulder and an undiagnosed pain in my right hip, but it is some better. I read in Cosmo that sleeping on your back is the best for facial skin since gravity pulls it all backwards and toward your scalp, minimizing the development of wrinkles like the ones by my nose where my cheeks are squishing it all night long, mashed up against my dirty pillow.
Sleeping on my back poses a whole new set of issues though as that same gravitational pull seems to work on all of my body fat, which I suspect are culpable in the compression of my spinal cord in Just The Right Places so that my hands and feel fall asleep within about 45 seconds of lying supine (on my back, for you laypeople). I tried to mitigate this last night by propping my left leg up on the same dirty TRS that my pillow is snuggling with now and elevating my right foot on the hardhat. That resulted in about two hours of sleepless evaluation of tingly hands and the gravitational pull on my facial skin.
So back to the right side I went, and resigned myself to a dirty pillowcase and more zits. Sleep before beauty, I told myself. Which makes acceptance of the definite lack of beauty a little bit easier. It is more concerning to me of late since I have established certain goals which include improving my attention to physical appearance, since, “Havin’ no natural beauty” of my own like Sonora in Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken (favorite movie alert!), I probably need to - help myself. Not that, once again, beauty is the ultimate goal, but there is no denying that with beauty comes influence, and people are happier to work with and respond better to someone who is attractive. It’s just the way it is. People, monkeys, peacocks… we’re all wired to be more receptive to the Hot Ones, whether it’s tan legs, swollen purple butts or fantastic feathery shows . So in order to make the power plays I am looking forward to in the future, I need to up my hotness factor, and probably wash my pillowcase.