Skin Deep?

Each time I take a shower, I run through a routine of scrubbing and stretching. I think of a newspaper article I once read about how adequate exercise could be incorporated in a daily shower. The writer proceeded to describe the stretches, scratches, and contortions one could go through that would loosen muscles, release tension, and generally tone the body under the soothing flow of water.

I couldn't afford a health club then nor did I have the time, but think to establish and maintain my own exercise routine? One needs a professional for that sort of thing. Doesn't one? I'd been brainwashed to believe doctors or the cosmetic industry or pharmaceutical companies know what's best for me. I could deviate at my own peril.

How could I, living within the thin sack called skin, the epidermis, the outermost layer of cells on my body, possibly know how to take care of it without professional help? Giving my bathroom the once over to make sure no one was looking, I slyly thought I'd try. It was a radical concept, but I live inside my skin 24 hours a day, actually I am my skin. I feel, from day to day, the condition of my skin. If I watch closely enough I can tell that my skin needs cleaning, scratching, or soothing. If I think about it I can tell that something I eat or something I do effects what the skin feels. Exercise be damned, I was going to work on my skin first.

A shower, I discovered, could be a total conditioning of the skin with the use of a firm bristled brush. That's hard to believe when advertisements tell me I need creams, lotions, special workouts, doctor examinations, and a catalog of products meticulously researched to make a movie star or world class athlete out of little ol' me. It's an easy trap to fall into. I was taught to trust. I was taught that good sincere folks out there would help make a better person out of me. I guess one gets cynical with old age but I realize that all of those good folks are out there to make money and they work very hard at psychology and brainwashing to drain off some of mine. You can see it took some rationalizing before I was one hundred percent sure I could ignore the "professionals" and take over my own health care. I looked for definitions of skin, biology calls it epidermis, the non-vascular covering of the skin. O.K. So it doesn't have blood vessels or ducts. It's just dead stuff. Easy enough to think it might need soaps or creams. The layer of dead cells isn't the same forever, is it? Maybe each layer just needs to be removed. Then where does the next layer of dead cells come from?

OH HO! There is something underneath that does have ducts. When my skin is slightly scraped, a colorless liquid seeps out, not red blood. That's under the next layer. And where does the blood come from? And what keeps the blood flowing? And what makes for healthy blood? Just can't make good skin from the outside in.

Turns out like the tale of the war lost because of a horseshoe nail. So my struggle for healthy skin became a journey toward the golden fleece, through the perils of overeating, underexercising, and aerobic scrubbing. By the time I turned seventy I had it all figured out.

Naomi Sherer


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