The Neck Issue

Truth to tell, I don’t really mind getting older in a general sense, but I have to say I really hate what it’s doing to my neck. Middle age has decided to make its beachhead there, and slowly but surely (and not really all that slowly, alas) my neck is losing its concavity and is instead becoming something of a direct slope from my chin to my sternum. This pleases me not in the least.

Mind you, I’ve always had a thick neck in proportion to my size, which is I think one of the reasons why when people see me in pictures without me standing next to something for scale, they assume I’m some six foot dude. A side effect of this is even when I was (ahem) thinner than I am now, I often looked like I had a double chin, especially if the picture caught me snickering. Even so, now it’s definitely kinda drapey, which sucks.

What to do about it? Well, first I suppose I really should get around to dropping those fifteen pounds I’ve been planning to drop since the beginning of the year; that would be start. After that if it’s still a flat plane I suppose I’ll brush up on my charm, as I will not be impressing people with my devilishly strong neckline. I’ve mentioned casually to people that if I ever was going to get plastic surgery done, it would be to my neck — not in an attempt to look younger (which would be rather more work than I would want, and you end up with the Kenny Rogers permanently-standing-behind-a-jet-engine look anyway) but just avoid the inevitable wattle action — but in the end I’ll probably just have to live with it. Stupid neck.

(Picture credit: Tina Wassenaar Kambarian)

80 Comments on “The Neck Issue”

  1. Well, HEAD transplants have been successfully done with monkeys!

    *if you don’t mind an estimated remaining lifespan of twelve hours

  2. I hear that scarves are an upcoming fashion trend. You could get yours in CDF green.

  3. What? Just ignore it, I’m sure your lovely young bride cares little if at all and she’s the only one that COUNTS anyway. Besides, this is not bad, wait until you hit 60 (like me)!

  4. I have heard of neckcercises that involve pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth (sort of toward the front) with the mouth closed. If you try it, you will definitely feel the muscles working right under your chin. Now whether this serves to tighten or tone anything in that sweet spot, well, that remains to be seen.

    I think John would make an excellent guinea pig. I propose a challenge – three sets of ten a day, for two weeks. Before and after pictures. Measuring tapes. Calipers. Commentary from the slavering hordes. (Slavering Hordes! I Command You!)

    Good luck.

  5. Hey, at least you have a neck to gripe about. As I age, not only has my skull expanded but it seems to have sunk into my upper chest area as well.

  6. Adopt the fake ancient Egyptian beard; make people call you Pharaoh Scalzi the Great . . .

  7. I feel your neck-related pain, dude. We’re both gonna be members of the Jowly Old Bastards club.

    I’m practicing my curmudgeonly grumble-rants now!

  8. So was it as difficult an adjustment when you started having fewer active hair follicles?
    Losing weight helped reduce my neck and double chin so it’s definitely something to consider. As part of your program, building muscle may help as well.

    But seriously, your looks really aren’t as important for long lasting relationships that matter and the people with whom you will want to continue your relationships will, probably, politely ignore your physical shortcomings. (Or occasionally tease you about them, but hey, it’s a price you’ll have to pay.)

  9. Misdirection’s your best bet — like a magician. Begin amassing a collection of flamboyant, Elton-in-Yellow-Brick-Road-days spectacles.

    Should buy you time until, inevitably, given the aging of the population, double chins are declared teh sex-ay!

  10. No Photoshop for the real world?

    There’s a whole lot of plastic surgeons making a good living in La-La land, employing the meatspace equivalent of Smudge, Crop, and Clone tools on upper middle class folk every day.

  11. What if i told you that in just two minutes a day, you could firm, lift, and smooth your entire neckline…?

    A friend – who is currently seeking employment and thus is watching a bit too much TV – saw this ad on TV and tracked down the site.

    It’s very impressive… for certain values of impressive.

  12. The hardest thing about losing the extra 15 pounds is doing it before it turns into the extra 30 pounds. Or 40.
    Just saying.

  13. You need to dress Regency style and wear a firm, high cravat. Elegant, anachronistic and flattering!

  14. Well, Scalzi, if it makes you feel any better, I’m 23 and my neck is shaped just like yours.

    I know exactly how you feel about the plastic surgery thing. I’m probably never going to go through with it for a variety of reasons, but there are days I think it would be worth it to stop looking ~50lbs heavier than I actually am in photographs.

  15. I’m sure that in the back of some tabloid type newspaper is a sort of bandage, elasticky, strappy thing that you can wear every night that will make you feel like you have an incrementally tighter neck in the morning. But really, I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you. This is certainly something I never noticed until you highlighted it here.
    Society forgives men so MUCH in the way of age-related cosmetic changes, whereas women get zinged for absolutely every sag and wrinkle starting at age 19. Even that 15 pounds looks better on you than it does on me.

  16. I think you should sell advertising space on it. Then you’ll love when it grows bigger.

  17. With the Regency cravat, you could always do like Batman and move your whole upper body to turn your head.

  18. I was always taken with W.D. “Bud” Prize’s chinodontic gizmo, as featured on Fernwood 2Nite. The following clip, which includes a fascinating discussion of UFO phenomena, displays such a gadget in action:

    Or you could forgo this stuff and do what I do, which is look in the mirror every morning and cringe. Only takes a few seconds.

  19. What are you worried about? You’re an author, not a television personality. It doesn’t matter what you look like!

  20. I suppose. I just thought that one of the reasons authors are much more interesting people than TV types is that they don’t have to worry about such things.

  21. Just start the new Hardback Authors Exercise Program.

    Walk three miles each day, carrying a copy of all books you published (hardback if so published by major publisher, english editions only if you’re a wimp).

    The metric version is to walk 5,000 meters each day, carry the french-language versions, and to drink a glass of red wine when you get back from the walk. I understand you’re not much for the inebriants, but it’s good for you.

  22. Eventually, as it droops more, it will come in handy for Thanksgiving Day turkey imitations.

  23. My Grandmother left behind a lovely newspaper article from the 1960s about the importance of moisturizing your neck to maintain its elasticity and smoothness. I’ve started including my neck in my morning moisturizing regimine. Does it help? I don’t know. But it makes me feel like I’m taking care of myself, and that helps me be happy.

    And happiness is all that matters.

    No wait, that’s love. One of those things, anyway.

    Good luck!

  24. On a serious note, thick necks seem to correlate pretty strongly with obstructive sleep apnea. Do you snore loudly? If you do, you might consider getting tested (or at least looking at the symptoms to see if anything fits, and if it does, then get tested).

  25. I thought that too, until my wife finally stopped covering it up and told me I was making a lot of noise sometimes at night.

    You might ask Kristy. My wife and I communicate pretty openly and well, and she’d just decided not to tell me about the snoring.

  26. Sigh. I am “over 40” and I have one of those necks too. It’s totally genetic, because my mom and both maternal grandparents have the whole neck wattle thingie going on. It’ll only get worse for me.

    At least I won’t have to dye my hair until I’m in my 90’s.

  27. Forgot. I bought a necklace at a charity auction and the person I bought it from wants a pic of me wearing it. My husband took a bunch and I’m too embarrassed to send her any. Lots of age spots and chicken neck. And I have gotten even more homely. I am totally depressed.

  28. Ah, the dreaded Neck.

    I feel you, JS. I really do.

    Good luck shedding the pounds. Are you ordinarily exercise-avid or exercise-averse?

    Mostly, it will come down to diet, above all.

    Again, best.

  29. Oh dear God. I have that, too. Noticed it for the first time in my sister’s wedding pics several years ago. *le sigh*

    I, too, have considered neckular surgery. But alas, I am broke. Looks like I’m stuck with the grow-your-own turtleneck look for life.

    *BIG SIGH*

  30. “Even authors have personal vanity, you know.”

    John, John, John. You are already married to a beautiful and capable woman. You have a daughter together, who appears to be developing into a high-normal human being. They love you despite any personal feelings you might have about your neck, your hair, or your belly. This in addition to actually Making It As An Author, a task at which large numbers of the rest of us have failed.

    If anything, John, you have more to be vain about than most of us. Accept yourself as is and glory in the things you have already accomplished.

    Of course, losing those fifteen pounds would only help. I have a similar jawline, and while I have grown a beard, losing fifteen certainly has helped.

  31. Underchin/neck concavity does not a great writer make.

    That said, the upward smacking of the chin-jaw from the underside serves only to irritate everyone, as in you and those who must witness you doing so (Krissy).

    The fact of the matter is, neck wattles are a genetic feature, like thick ankles. There are no exercises you can to do make it ‘better’; it just is. (says one who has dislocated an ankle from exuberant ankle-rotating exercise).

  32. You need to get some Bling. A dozen or so of those thick ropy gold chains and no one will ever notice your wattle again. And if you win the Hugo you can hang it on one of your chains.
    We’ll call you Scalz-i-go or O.D.S. (old dirty scalzi ).

  33. No, no, no: Camera credit: Tina Kambarian
    Picture credit: Kristine Scalzi

  34. The metric version is to walk 5,000 meters each day, carry the french-language versions, and to drink a glass of red wine when you get back from the walk.

    Wimp. Try the German language editions! 20% heavier!

    It is true, however, that this exercise program led to the premature death of Isaac Asimov. But he died in good shape!

    Nice one. It also makes me think that PG Wodehouse must have been pretty damn buff.

  35. Maybe it’s just that particular picture, but on the other hand next time you’re acquiring dress shirts, going a half-size larger (or more) on the neck might be worth trying.

    I wish women’s shirts came in neck sizes. But then, we don’t usually wear ties either.

  36. Just tattoo something horrible on your forehead Then nobody will notice the neck.

  37. John, my neck was the first casualty of my post-30 weight gain. A beard really does let me take back what weight loss won’t give me.

    And the wife thinks it’s hot.

  38. Another word for a “drapey” neck is “chinkles”. My friend has tons of them, and he is only 29.

    Also, as an FYI, my dad had the chinkle removal surgery you have considered, and they came back within a few years. The elasticity of skin, and all that. I guess Chinkles are like Poltergeist.

  39. Carry around with you a picture of George Lucas. Any picture will do. When you start feeling all middle-agey about your neck, whip George’s picture out. That’ll make you feel loads better. Seriously, with all the billions that man has, why he doesn’t bother getting his neck cropped is beyond me.

  40. Keri, that’s the most disturbing thing anyone’s suggested in this thread — and it just might WORK.

    Also, “Lucas Chin Flab” is the name of my next band.

  41. Honestly, I am horrified and fascinated by Lucas’s neck. (By fascinated I mean like D&D spell fascinate.) When his neck is on screen, all my attention is immediately focused on it, to the exclusion of everything else. I’m not a usually a supporter of cosmetic surgery, but I think I would actually donate some money to him if meant he got a neck job.

    Here, use this picture, it’s particularly awful. He looks old, his neck is extremely inner-tubey, and his hands look disproportionately tiny.

  42. My sister started hosting some neck flab when she was around your age, and started jogging regularly. It firmed back up, which I realize falls somewhere between bad news and completely useless information. Jogging:shudder.

  43. Only if you get the right games…like WiiGurgitation, or the Puppy Stomp Revolution.

  44. It’s doable, but it takes lots of little changes in habit over time, and a strong motivation that keeps you focused on it every day.

    In the two and half years since my daughters were born (twins, not fun) I ballooned from 175 pounds to 210 (OK maybe even 215 pounds). February of last year, at 37 years old, I was left with a stark choice; lose weight, buy new clothes, or move to a nudist colony. I could barely breathe in the few things I could still fit my fat ass in.

    I’d been reasonably fit up until that point. I always made a point of going on long walks, bike rides, and all the other stuff you can’t do with a pair of non-potty trained children underfoot at all times. When I tried to get back at it everything I tried that I used to do HURT.

    I had to take up swimming after two decades of not so much as darkening a pool. It was humiliating. I couldn’t do more than a pool length without gasping and wheezing for a minute, but I kept at it, because the alternative was shopping for a lot of clothes. Every other day I was at the Y (they watch kids for free!) and eventually it payed off. Laugh at my motivation all you like, but it worked.

    It took a year, but I got down to a little under 190 pounds, and I can do those other things like ride a bike or run now. The thing that kept me at it was that I despise shopping for clothes.

    I also had eliminate everything from the diet that had high fructose corn syrup, and restrict the family to no more than three dine outs a month. None of which were allowed to be fast food. That last was also for money reasons.

  45. I would encourage a “Sinister Goatee”. If it doesn’t cover it up, it’ll distract people (albeit, in an “Oh my god what is that thing?” sort of way)

  46. Have the jowls surgically converted into cheek pouches. Then use them to smuggle diamonds. Then when people laugh about your aging visage, you can quietly chuckle to yourself, “If only they knew…”

    Just remember to avoid the evil laugh. That’s a red flag for customs and immigration every time.

  47. Hah, MorrisP, that made me laugh. I do yoga from time to time but that is one pose I have never tried. I looked it up to see how it is practiced, so that i too might one day avoid chinkles, and found this image… aparrently crossing your eyes helps too.

  48. That looks somewhat like Katee Sackhoff in the link you posted, JesterJ. Now we know what happenned to Starbuck at the end of Galactica. I can rest easy now.

    Thank you.

  49. With temporary tattoos, you could always rent it as advertising space during various Conventions and signings. It could be a source of income if paid by someone else or a tax write-off if you advertise your own works.

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