What really makes us old and wrinkled

By: Azalea R. Bolton - Storyteller

A few weeks ago our grandson’s youth group was having a meal and game night with the senior citizens at their church. After our daughter picked up our grandson from school, he asked her what they were going to feed the older folks. She told him she didn’t know because she hadn’t been a part of planning the event. She then asked him what he thought the seniors would be eating.

He said: “Ham and beans and soup.”

She then asked: “Why do you think you’ll be feeding them ham and beans and soup?”

He replied: “Because that’s what old people eat.”

“Why do you think old people like to eat ham and beans and soup?” she asked.

“Because that’s what grandma and grandpa eat,” he answered.

Later on that night, when our daughter picked our grandson up at the church, she asked him, “What did you feed the senior citizens?”

“Ham and beans,” he replied.

“What, no soup?” she asked.

“Nope, no soup,” he said.

“Well, maybe next time,” she said.

Our daughter drove along for a while and then our grandson asked: “Do beans cause wrinkles?”

“What makes you think beans cause wrinkles?” she then asked him.

“Since old people eat a lot of beans and they have a lot of wrinkles, I just thought beans might cause wrinkles,” he said.

After hearing this true story, it made me start wondering what really does cause wrinkles. When I researched this question, I found out that wrinkles can be caused by a combination of factors — some of which you can control and some you cannot.

Of course, the first thing mentioned is age (which is blamed for lots of our problems these days). It seems our skin becomes less elastic and our body doesn’t produce natural oils like it did when we were younger. As a result, your skin becomes drier and appears more wrinkled. Fat in the deeper layers of your skin also diminishes and this causes loose, sagging skin and makes the lines and crevices even more pronounced.

Another reason for wrinkles is exposure to ultraviolet light, which speeds our natural aging process. This exposure breaks down our skin’s connective tissue which lies deep down in our skin (dermis). Without this support from this connective tissue, our skin loses it strength and flexibility and starts to sag and wrinkle.

One thing mentioned which accelerates the normal aging of our skin — is smoking. This is one thing that we can control, unlike some of the others that have been mentioned.

Squinting and smiling can lead to fine lines and wrinkles. When you use a facial muscle, a groove forms beneath the skin surface. Then as your skin ages and loses flexibility, it can no longer spring back in place like it did before. These grooves can then become permanent features in our face. Sounds like a good reason to always wear sunglasses (so you don’t squint) and don’t smile (so you won’t get wrinkles around your mouth.) Right?

I personally have never worried too much about wrinkles. I suppose I’ve always thought that wrinkles were just a part of growing old, and if I lived long enough, I would have them like all old people. One thing is for sure, I’ve now lived long enough so that I have plenty of them. Those grooves around my mouth, however, just make me realize I’ve smiled a lot over the years and I don’t plan to stop now.

What about you? Are you going to stop smiling because it might cause wrinkles? I feel that is a sad way to live your life. Maybe that’s the reason some people act as if they’re afraid to smile or laugh. I’m sure you’ve all seen those kind of people. You know – the ones who act like they’re afraid their face might crack open if they smile!

A lot of people today seem so concerned about wrinkles that they have a face lift, etc. so people will think they don’t look their age anymore. Maybe, if I was a movie star or in the public eye, it would cause me to be more concerned about wrinkles. I sincerely hope not, but I will never know since I’m not and have no desire to be one, either. However, I’ll admit I don’t like to have my picture made because when I look at them all I see is wrinkles, wrinkles and more wrinkles.

So, do you eat a lot of ham, beans and soup? If you do, do you think they could cause wrinkles?

Maybe that would be a good thing for our government to spend some of our tax money on. Can’t you just see the headlines now: “N.C. State receives $2 billion grant to study the feasibility of whether ham, beans and soup cause wrinkles.’

Sounds crazy, but our money has been spent on even crazier projects in the past — and probably will be again in the future.

The next time you sit down to eat ham, beans or soup, maybe you need to think about whether you could actually be eating some more wrinkles!

Azalea R. Bolton is a resident of Richmond County, a member of the Story Spinners of Laurinburg and a member of the Richmond and Anson County Historical Societies.


Azalea R. Bolton