Dr. Jim Allison’s headshot fills the back cover of a recent New Yorker with impressive gravitas, and it got me thinking. The ad for the MD Anderson Cancer Center touts Dr. Jim’s unswerving dedication to research: “His breakthrough in immmunotherapy earned him the 2018 Nobel Prize and is transforming cancer care.”

Big kudos to Dr. Jim. But, what about that grim, beady stare, those knifelike wrinkles, eye bags and untrammeled locks? And… that neck!  Would that photo fly as a full-page ad if Dr. Jim were a woman?I think not.

While photographing some jewelry for my Etsy store the other day I took a selfie by mistake.

Susan Dworski selfie

It was a BIG mistake, instantly regretted.

Normally I dodge the camera like a road runner on Adderol and I quickly dumped the shot in the trash.

But then, this morning, I began thinking that maybe I moved too fast and pulled it out.
I pondered Hillary Clinton’s thick, tubular legs, forced into pantsuit exile by unfavorable public opinion when she ran for office. And the unrelenting criticism of Theresa May’s stodgy sartorial efforts. Or the constant jabs at the appearance of a whole spectrum of accomplished women subjected to the eye of the social media cyclops.

I tried to recall the last time a woman with wattles sans botox called the shots.

CC BY-SA 3.0 Government Press Office (Isreal)

“Being 70 isn’t a sin,” Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said. “But it isn’t a joke, either.”
I wondered: Isn’t it time to stop fretting? How bad do I really need to feel about my neck? I mean, does Dr. Jim dash back to the bathroom mirror to check his mascara or add a dab of lip gloss before rushing off to his lab?

He does not. Nor did Golda.

But, they are made of sterner stuff.

Jokester Nora Ephron rummaged through our vanitas bag in her 2006 book, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.  

Maintenance is what you have to do just so you can walk out the door knowing that if you go to the market and run into a guy who once rejected you, you won’t have to hide behind a stack of canned goods.
Librado Romero/The New York Times

So what’s up, neck-hater? I’m asking myself. Give it up. Go bare. Go free. Don’t hunker down behind the SpaghettiOs. Stand firm and fight. Resist! Accept your shelf life as given.

Honestly, I do. Most of the time.

Until Chanel introduces a new age-defying-hyper-acerola-herbal-emulsified cream extracted from endangered, free-ranging KaaKaa-Kon nuts organically-grown on the slopes of Iryian-Jaya by a recently rediscovered tribe of pygmies that absolutely guarantees to…

And once again, I’m suckered in.


—Susan Dworski

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