Archive for February 2nd, 2009

My best friend from graduate school is coming to New Mexico from her native Brazil week after next, and in honor of her visit—women in Brazil are notorious for their beauty, not to mention she’s married to a plastic surgeon—I’ve put together a list of bodily facts that I need to own up to on account of my DNA.

And if I can’t get over them, well, then I need to have a long talk with my friend’s husband while he’s here.

  • Flabby arms (also known as bat wings, arm wings, and jello arms): While these can be caused by weight gain, muscle loss, and natural aging, one of the main factors is genetics. If your grandmother and mother had upper arms that were prone to flapping in the wind while hanging laundry on the line, chances are you do (or will) too. Which is why I never became a teacher. (Chalkboards.)
  • Nose and ear growth: It’s not known why, exactly, that noses and ears continue growing as one ages, although some theorize that since noses and ears are made of cartilage, they continue to grow long after the bones have stopped. Or, it could be that cartilage simply loses elasticity over time, causing the tip of the nose to lengthen and droop. Which I should have known would be especially problematic for our family back when Uncle Pat used to like saying: When God was handing out noses, we thought he said “roses” and asked for His biggest red ones.
  • Female pattern baldness: This can be genetic, so if Aunt Mabel’s scalp was visible through her 28 strands of black hair (check), you might want to explore gene therapy. (Right.)
  • The accumulation of fat in the neck and jaw: Generally genetic and generally unrelated to body weight, meaning that no amount of dieting, exercise, and weight loss will affect their reduction. (Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the gift of jowls.)
  • Senile acne: Yep, genetic, although its presence is generally a good indication that wrinkles will be postponed. Which, for those of us predisposed to having zits in our old age, just be glad that even though your 82-year-old mother still uses Noxema, most people think she’s not a day older than 70.
  • Facial hair: Those thick black hairs springing out on my chin were probably an endowment from my Aunt Olivia. And the ones that I’ll eventually sprout from my ears and nose—well, thank you Great Uncle Narciso (and Grandpa). Which is why I’m thinking of teaching my daughters how to use sharp trimmers.
  • Earwax: Scientists recently discovered that whether you have wet earwax or dry depends on the ATP-binding cassette C11 gene. Generally people from Europe and Africa have wet earwax and people in Asia have dry. The gene also correlates to armpit odor in that gooey earwax populations sweat more than dry earwax ones. The gene that keeps on giving.
  • Dowager’s humps (aka old lady humps): These often run in families, especially where there is a tendency toward osteoporosis. At least I can go a long time without needing to empty my bladder. (Kidding.)


Although I’m not a proponent of plastic surgery, I do think it would be lovely to go to Brazil for a couple of weeks and come back looking really refreshed. I doubt my friend’s husband can do anything for the old lady hump, but perhaps he can tuck those bat wings and jowls.

Hypothetically speaking (since I have a feeling most of our regular readers are pretty content with what Mother Nature bestowed) what genetic gifts might you consider losing if you had the opportunity? Hey, maybe we can get a group discount.

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