Nora Ephron's "I Feel Bad About My Neck"

From "I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman" by Nora Ephron

Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006

chapter 1

"I feel bad about my neck.  Truly I do.  If you saw my neck, you might feel bad about it too, but you'd probably be too polite to let on.  If I said something to you on the subject-something like "I absolutely cannot stand my neck"-you'd undoubtedly respond by saying something nice, like "I don't know what you are talking about."  You'd be lying, of course, but I forgive you.  I tell lies like that all the time-mostly to friends who tell me they're upset becaues they have little pouches under their eyes, or jowls, or wrinkles, or flab around the middle, and do I think they should have an eye job, or a face-lift, or Botox, or liposuction.  My experience is that "I don't know what you're talking about" is code for "I see what you mean, but if you think you're going to trap me into engaging on this subject, you're crazy."

"...Anyway, sometimes we go out to lunch and I look around the table and realize we're all wearing turtleneck sweaters.  Sometimes, instead, we're all wearing scarves, like Katharine Hepburn in On Golden Pond.  Sometimes we're all wearing mandarin collars and look like a white ladies' version of the Joy Luck Club.  It's sort of funny and it's sort of sad, because we're not neurotic about age-none of us lies about how old she is, for instance, and non of us dresses in a way that's inappropriate for our years.  We all look good for our age.  Except for our necks."

"Oh, the necks.  These are chicken necks.  There are turkey gobbler necks.  There are elephant necks.  There are necks with wattles and necks with creases that are on the verge of becoming wattles.  There are scrawny necks and fat necks, loose necks, crepey necks, banded necks, wrinkled necks, stringy necks, saggy necks, flabby necks, mottled necks.  There are necks that are an amazing combination of all of the above.  According to my dermatologist, the neck starts to go at forty-three and that's that. You can put  makeup on your face and concealer under your eyes and dye on your hair, you can shoot collagen and Botox and Restylane into your wrinkles and creases, but short of surgery, there's not a damn thing you can do about a neck.  The neck is a dead giveaway.  Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth.  You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn't have to if it had a neck."

"...That's another thing about being a certain age that I've noticed: I try as much as possible not to look in the mirror.  If I pass a mirror, I avert my eyes.  If I must look into it, I begin by squinting, so that if anything really bad is looking back at me, I am already halfway to closing my eyes to ward off the sight.  And if the light is good (which I hope it's not), I often do what so many women my age do when stuck in front of a mirror: I gently pull the skin of my neck back and stare wistfully at a younger version of myself."

"...Every so often I read a book about age, and whoever's writing it says it's great to be old.  It's great to be wise and sage and mellow; it's great to be at the point where you understand just what matters in life.  I can't stand peole who say things like this.  What can they be thinking?  Don't they have necks?  Aren't they tired of compensatory dressing? Don't they mind that 90 percent of the clothes they might otherwise buy have to be eliminated simply beacuse  of the necklines? Don't they feel bad about having to buy chokers?  One of my biggest regrets-bigger even than not buying the apartment on East Seventy-Fifth Street, bigger even than my worst romantic catastrophe-is that I didn't spend my youth staring lovingly at my neck.  It never crossed my mind to be grateful for it.  It never crossed my mind that I would be nostalgic about a part of my body that I took completely for granted." ...

We love you Nora Ephron! Thank you for the honesty and letting us laugh and cry with you!

Kaete Archer, MD Facial Plastic Surgeon

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