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A weird thing happened the other night as I was reading (or trying to read) to my five-year-old granddaughter here in Tokyo. “This book always makes me cry,” I said cavalierly as I plucked The Velveteen Rabbit from M’s bookshelf. We sat side by side at the dinner table; I began to read. By the time the stuffed rabbit is relegated to the rubbish—his owner is recovering from scarlet fever and some of his toys are deemed germy—I was trashed, a mess of sobs. And, not unsurprisingly, testing M’s patience, as she offered me Kleenex after Kleenex while exhorting me to pull it together: “C’mon, Grammie, c’mon!”
“Okay, okay, okay,” I said, blowing my nose and getting back to the text. At which point the deluge began again. M threw up her hands; I just couldn’t stop the flow. Like premature ejaculators everywhere, I tried thinking of baseball, acrobats, electric cars. By the time the story ended, I was so completely washed out I could hardly hear M ask about her puppet-fiance, “Is Monkey-Monkey real?” to which I responded with a fresh flood of tears. Fed up with the drama, M tried another tactic. “Will you buy me a Velveteen Rabbit?” The thought of commerce calmed me, as it sometimes does. “Of course,” I said, “I’ll find you one.”
“Well, then please hurry,” said M, closing the book and ushering me back to dry land.
Later, in my own apartment, I tried pulling on the threads that had me tied up in knots. Visiting my family in Japan, I’m usually the oldest person in the room. And M is fond of asking questions like, “Grammie, when I’m a teenager, will you be dead?” and “If I’m a mermaid in my next life, will you be my mermaid Grammie?” She also says things like, “Sometimes I’m really sad when we’re together, because I want us to be together always and I know you won’t always be here,” which is likely a reference to my other life in the U.S., but carries a deeper meaning.
And that damn rabbit. By the time his hair has been loved off, and his eyes dropped out and he’s gotten loose in the joints and very shabby (as described in the book), he’s looking alarmingly like my doppelganger. When wise, old Skin Horse in the nursery tells him, “…these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand,” I want to take M’s perfect little face in my hands and tell her Grammie will always be with her—just transformed. Because what’s more enduring than love manifested in a real connection?
Speaking of which, Frog and Toad, whose relationship is the epitome of a devoted friendship (and maybe something more), are safer territory for me. I highly recommend an adventure with them if you’re looking for early reader material.
Oh, wait, is this supposed to be a post about beauty? A curious reader sent a question that piqued my interest. But first…
Last week I visited the gallery/shop of Ichijiku—a brand that creates one-of-a-kind clothes and accessories from a collection of the finest antique kimono fabrics. The artistry involved in the fabric creation—not to mention in the tailoring of their exquisite jackets—boggled my mind.
Photos can’t convey the richness of the colors or the variety of the tactile experience. There are two kinds of fabrics in the photo below. On the left, Somé fabrics (“Somé” refers to fabrics that are woven before a design is created with dye), and on the right, both Somé and Ori fabrics (“Ori” refers to fabrics with the threads pre-dyed; the design comes from the threads being woven into a pattern). The fabrics on the right side are particularly rare and ornate, such as silk velvets or pieces that are completely hand-dyed. Though all the fabrics are 100% silk, you begin seeing differences in texture, luster, and weight because of how they’re woven. For example, loops of silk thread protrude in a design from the top of Wana Velvet; every loop is hand-split with a fine cutting tool which gives them a deep color and silky texture. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say it’s the softest thing I’ve ever touched (except for my infant son’s fontanel).
The jackets are pricey, starting at $5,000 USD. When you think of them as wearable art, that price tag doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable. And, hey, it’s around 1/10th the cost of a facelift with zero health risks involved…
Finally, your beauty question.
Q: Have you heard anything about silicone patches like these? You’re supposed to apply them at night to clean, dry skin. Since nighttime is typically when I slather on my moisturizer and treatment product, I wasn’t sure about this. I would welcome your thoughts.
A: Thank you for your question! As for my thoughts, I was reminded of something Sey Chassler, longtime editor-in-chief of Redbook magazine (and one of my favorite bosses), once told me about his mind: It’s a swamp I slosh around in. And occasionally I fall on something interesting. Same, Sey, same.
But I fell on nothing having to do with your question, so I emailed dermatologist Jessica Weiser and cosmetic chemist Kenna Whitnell for their expertise. “These silicone patches were trendy a few years ago for the neck and décolletage, because people believed they’d prevent wrinkles from side-sleeping,” says Weiser. “Silicone is an occlusive, drawing water to the skin’s surface to create a temporary plumping effect. But consumers ultimately realized the patches often didn’t stay in place overnight. More to the point, they didn’t prevent lines and wrinkles.” There are many affordable, drugstore options for occlusive creams that hydrate well, adds Whitnell.
The patches do prevent your skin from wrinkling while you’re wearing them—but you’d have to wear them 24/7 to enjoy this effect. I have a word for that: Impractical. Bottom-line? “I wouldn’t invest in them,” says Whitnell. Better to use proven ingredients like vitamin A derivative retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids.
Because the patches are hypoallergenic, it’s unlikely you’d experience any downside from using them, says Weiser, except suboptimal outcomes. Including a lighter wallet.
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A Moment of Personal Horn-Blowing
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What a beautiful story about your granddaughter. And, I also cry to pieces whenever I read or hear read The Velveteen Rabbit. Such a beautiful tale.
I think it’s worth mentioning that a lovely silk jacket is something one could actually hand down to a grandchild, unlike a facelift.