COVID-19 Is All Fun And Games Until You Start Looking Like Your Grandmother

I’m sitting at home, dressed to the nines with nowhere to go.

Dressed to the nines during COVID-19 (?), I hear you ask.

Image of old woman with grey hair and moustache.
Thanks to Far Kew for this wonderfully appropriate image

Well…yes. But I do have two very good reasons for such crazy behaviour: The first is that like many of you, I imagine, the highlight of my week since social-distancing started has become my trip to the supermarket – and… standards. The second is because in recent days more than a handful of old people have allowed ME TO PASS BY THEM in aforementioned supermarket raids or during my “essential” exercise.

I may be paranoid, but I thought it was the over-seventies we were trying to protect (and I’m 54). So…looks like I’m not winning any “how to look great without make-up” competitions anytime soon.

COVID-19 is all fun and games until you start looking like your grandmother.

Admittedly, I’ve looked better. I’ve probably taken this short-term permission to live like a slob that step too far. Added to which, I’ve been suffering from a nasty attack of Rosacea that I’m praying hasn’t been triggered by the vast quantities of pink Gin I’m drinking for my anxiety.

But I suppose there was a certain inevitability about ageing prematurely during this pandemic, when you’re locked up in the house with your husband 24/7. After all, there’s only so much ice-chewing, golf-swinging, and farting you can witness before your body starts to revolt – as I alluded to at the bottom of my last post here.

I’m fortunate to have a son who consistently reminds me that anyone over thirty-five is ANCIENT, but I’ll be honest with you, I thought I looked okay for my age – hence my decision to drop any sort of beauty regime at the first opportunity which turned out to be this virus.

It’s not like I truly believed I was a walking advertisement for how to look good with no make-up, but I thought this new “surviving a pandemic” natural look gave me a Byron vibe. That was until the old man commented on how nice I looked the other day – the day I wore mascara for my last trip to Woollies.

‘What do you mean,’ I turned on him defensively.

‘I don’t know,’ he replied nervously. ‘You’ve got some nice colour to your cheeks.”

‘That would be my Rosacea,” I confirmed with a death stare.

Of course, NC would laugh out loud at my suggestion that I have any sort of beauty regime. If you call putting body lotion on your face at night a BEAUTY REGIME, I can hear her say. My daughter has always been appalled by my complete disregard for “products” and she still hasn’t stopped laughing about the time I used a brow pen as an eyeliner.

I miss my girl.

And in my defence, it doesn’t help that I can’t actually see the massive whiskers hanging from the corners of my mouth, the overgrown hedges over my eyes, and those orange blotches of rogue foundation that I can normally rely on her to wipe away in shame.

I won’t deny that my beauty standards have slipped to “Kathy Bates in Misery” level of late, which is why I’ve called Kurt in to my rescue. He keeps moaning about how we never do anything, so I thought I’d ramp up his Friday night and book him in for a plucking session in the bathroom tonight. I’m ignoring the fact that his latest experiment with his own mop is a Mohican that he’s threatening to dye platinum – mainly because it’s hard to care about anything very much right now other than the path of this bloody virus.

But if I do turn out looking like Lady Gaga in that scene from A Star Is Born when Bradley pulls off her stick-on brows, I promise to post a photo.

Eyebrow Problems In Middle Age

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I went through another of those middle-aged duty calls in order to meet the aesthetic expectations placed upon womankind the other day – the utter onerousness of a waxing session. I shouldn’t grumble really, hair-care it is the only beauty treatment I pay for to meet society’s expectations of beauty so that I don’t terrify small children. And as men probably say, no pain no gain!

 

And what a true pleasure it is, lying on a bed in the hands of some aggressive Asian while she hacks out clumps of hair from the most sensitive parts of your body.

 

It really hurts, waxing. In my experience, it’s an old wives tale that it gets easier the more often you do it or that over time the hairs stop growing back quite as fervently. On a pain scale of “one” being someone running their clammy hands through your hair and “ten” being childbirth, the upper lip wax is definitely an eight. 

 

But it’s either that or turning into a man.

 

In the same way that my menstrual flow seems to be defying the biology of my age, I appear to be accumulating more hair in my brows, and they now include a selection of grey, wiry ones that spring out at odd angles and at odd times of the day and are, as you can imagine, particularly attractive. Many of my friends have the opposite problem, and have been forced to invest in eyebrow pencils (with interesting results) or are considering tattoos with which to frown at their entitled adult children more convincingly. Eye brow pencils remind me of my paternal grandmother, who thought that her purple tint coordinated perfectly with her orange brow line.

 

I could plait my eyebrows if I wanted to and the only reason they have to be yanked out by the Thai psychopath down the road is that I can’t see them, thanks to that other life-changing disability of middle age – long-sightedness. One day I think they look fine, the next day, the look of horror on NC’s face at the sight of the two hairy caterpillars crawling across my forehead, tells me everything I need to know.

 

How come men can get away with bushy brows? The old man has his own set of salt and pepper eyebrow curtains, yet they look quite distinguished on him – although nowhere is nature’s cruel sense of humor more evident than by that mass of tangled hair that frames his eyes rather than his head.

 

I know that big brows are in! – thank you Cara Delavinge and Lily Collins – and that you can sculpt them, tint them and even turn them into the Golden Arches if you really want to make a feature of them. Recent styles have included bleached brows, dragon brows –which I assume we can blame GOT for – feather and plaited brows, and now there are even squiggle brows.

 

The way forward is “micro-blading”, apparently, for those of you that need a bit of help with “filling”. Alternatively, I could donate – at a price.

Why Is My Hair Thinning In Middle Age?

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One of the greatest challenges in a woman’s life – apart from men – is to find the right hairdresser – someone who truly understands the fickleness of female hair. Once you discover your hairdresser, a bond of trust is formed that can be almost (if not more) precious than those you share with the closest members of your family. So if, (God Forbid), you decide to move, the distance to your hairdresser has to be a prime consideration. 

Although I admit that I’ve been in denial for some time, the white tiled floor of my bathroom has highlighted recently that I am losing my hair.

I was aware that hair loss is one of the symptoms of menopause but I had naively assumed that ‘thinning’ referred to the quality of the strands rather than the uglier evidence of swathes of the stuff falling on the floor whenever I brushed it.  

I’ve always had a fine head of hair considering how much I’ve abused it with chemicals, and my hair loss might be due to any number of factors such as aging, menopause, diet, the chlorine in the pool or a simple iron deficiency. The bathroom floor was the perfect canvas to ram it home to me that I might be going bald.

What started as a minor irritation, when people would brush escaped strands off my shoulders in that invasive way they do, (rather like when they wipe stray food from around your mouth), soon turned into a daily nightmare as the pools of hair began to collate on the bathroom floor. Stepping on strands of hair in bare feet is almost as unpleasant as getting old food on your hands in dirty dish water if you’re a little on the OCD side and I’m beginning to realise that this problem has the potential to turn into a real body image issue if I catastrophise about it in my usual way. I am already imagining a future with no hair on my head while the rest of my body is as hirsute as a monkey. Furthermore, I’ve studied the shape of my head in the mirror from every angle and have come to the conclusion that it unlikely I will have the sophisticated beauty of Charlize Theron in Mad Max when I am bald. 

Like the alcoholic who hides their stash of alcohol, the initial shame caused by my hair loss forced me to change the location where I brush my hair of a morning to the bedroom. There, I can camouflage the loss of my mousey strands in the darkness of the timber floor, but even I know that is not getting to the root of the problem and if I don’t find some remedy the old man could have twenty years of bald jokes to catch up on.

I’ve done my research (here) and apparently a lack of protein can be a trigger, as can stress, so I’m back eating meat and have excused myself from all housework duties on medical grounds. My suggestion that the family move out completely fell on deaf ears, but I have also discovered that heat exposure is another culprit; one that is somewhat difficult to curb in my current predicament of several hot flashes a day in spite of living in the repercussions of the latest cyclone.

In other hair news, I can recommend the movie Hackshaw Ridge as a viewing must-see, especially if you want to obsess over a head of truly marvelous hair because Andrew Garfield must have the most voluminous head of hair I’ve ever seen. It generally has its own cameo role and trailer in his movies. Rather like Donald Trump’s thatch, I have always thought that his hair appears to have a life of its own and it is easy to be distracted by it. Fortunately, his acting is good enough in this film for it not to take centre stage, unlike when it comes to Trump’s politics.

Middle Aged Hair And Bad Grey Days

When I part my hair in a section that falls outside of the eight-weekly dye zone, I’ve noticed some ominous course grey hairs sprouting through. Do you ever wonder how they grow so goddamn quickly before you get the chance to ambush them? cat-1280122_1280

 

I haven’t been too concerned about this tell-tale sign of ageing before, because peroxide has been my best friend since my early twenties. I have noticed that my hair has begun to thin out over the past few years, mainly because of how often the old man complains about the hair accumulation on our bathroom floor and in our food, but I’m not even close to the step of letting myself go grey, even though I have great admiration for the confidence of those who do.

 

Like most women, I’ve played around with my hairstyles and colour over the years – one year short, the next long – but I always end up going back to the same tried and tested formula where I feel most comfortable – a choppy, mid-length, honey-blonde cut – nothing too dramatic. If anything I could be accused of being boringly safe.

 

Whenever I see middle-aged women with blue hair or scarlet hair, or balayage, I’m in total fucking awe of their strength and freedom of expression to be so ‘out there’, and of how ready they are to demonstrate to the world their new confidence in their own skin. My natural instinct is to merge into the scenery rather than be the focus.

 

Perhaps I’ve learned my lesson about hairstyles over time. In my mid-twenties, during a testing point in our relationship when the old man refused to move in with me even after my ultimatum, I booked myself the first appointment I could get, had all my hair chopped off and reinvented myself as Lady Diana in a typically impulsive ‘fuck you’ gesture.

 

Then there was my first and only perm in my late teens, which ‘took’ a little too well and ended up in the sort of mesh of tight curls a bird could happily nest in and definitely not the natural waves I’d hoped for. It meant I had to wear my hair in a French plait for the following six months.

 

There have been several colour disasters experiments – something that every girl needs to do as part of her journey to a woman – although NC will tell you that I begged her not to do it each time she got the home dye out. My most recent experiment was a few years ago when I decided to revert back to my own particular shade of ‘mouse’ to save on hairdressing costs and ended up looking like some prison escapee who had dyed her hair to avoid capture.

 

I’m not fixated on my hair like some women, because thinking about how to conceal my muffin top and eight chins is a pretty full time job. On the whole, it’s not ‘great’ hair like Jennifer Aniston’s – whose style I asked for numerous times but which sadly never quite materialised out of my hair ‘type’ – but it’s never been too demanding; never really let me down.

 

Which is fortunate because another of my pet peeves is visiting the hairdressers and being forced to fork out hundreds of dollars as well as make inane conversation with someone half my age with whom I have zero in common with, when I’d much rather make the most of two hours of peace and devour their trashy magazines.

 

In fact, it’s quite shameful how rude I am to hairdressers. I figure that if I tut enough, slurp my coffee loudly enough and make it patently clear that I don’t want to communicate with them they’ll eventually get the message and leave me alone to ‘Who Wore It Best?’

 

I may have to change my attitude with the advent of these ‘Bad Grey Days’.

Ageing And My Plucking Eyesight

One of the most irritating and debilitating physical symptoms of the ageing process is the eyesight issue.

 

Ageing And My Plucking Eyesight
Inne – Close up of Chris’ Glasses found on http://www.flickr.com

 

As in, lack of it.

 

Before I hit that wonderful pinnacle of 40, almost a decade ago now, (and at a time when I was still living under the illusion that life was about to begin), I had to wear glasses occasionally; these days, my bifocals have become a permanent fixture, either on the tip of my nose or on the top of my head.

 

The problems with my long sight have very quickly escalated from such minor difficulties as reading the labels on jars, de-coding of text messages and changing commands on the remote control. But the most galling issue now is being unable to read the price tags in shops.

 

The other problem is a vanity issue, in that I can’t see if my eyebrows/chin/moles need plucking, and the deforestation required has come to the notice of my daughter. 

 

I am not dark-haired, naturally, rather a spectacularly dull shade of mouse, so those little wiry sprouters that appear suddenly and lurk beneath my brows, have always been difficult to spot in their early stages of taking root. My trusty glasses aided search and rescue for a while. However, since the ongoing deterioration of my eyes, I fail to see the little fuckers these days, even with my glasses on, and when I am lucky to spot one, I can’t pluck it because I have to remove my glasses to get to it.

 

As you will appreciate, these are very serious middle-aged problems for women.

 

So a premature duty of care towards the elderly has had to come into effect in our house.

 

NC has been forced to take on the role of eyebrow carer when I can’t be arsed to haven’t found time to make an appointment at our local Asian torturer waxer. Finally, I am seeing some promising rewards from the investment we have made in children.

 

I have suggested to her that promotion will be wiping my arse, but she still insists that I will be thrown into a home at the first sign of any real neediness; or (shudder!) I will be forced to live with Kurt.

 

I obviously have a lot to look forward to…

Is The Man Bun Sexy Or Try-Hard?

Man Bun
Man Bun by Munnybear at http://www.flickr.com

I need to discuss the man bun today because they seem to be popping up everywhere in Sydney at the moment.

 

This topic also gives me the perfect excuse to give you ladies the Friday treat of some seriously gorgeous men on my blog.

 

Personally, I think man buns are BLOODY HOT; NC thinks they’re a bit try-hard.

 

I’ve always had a thing for men with long hair – who wouldn’t with Michael Hutchence as the role model of my thirties – and I forced Kurt to keep his long locks up until last year, when he suddenly decided to have them shorn off as an act of rebellion during the Dark Ages.

Never Tear Us Apart
Never Tear Us Apart (Photo credit: badjonni)

 

I felt like Samson.

 

Walk down King St in Newtown and it seems that every other guy under thirty is sporting the man bun with shaved sides.

 

PHWOARRRR!

 

The vote’s still out on this one but I don’t think that you should sport the man bun over thirty-five – or is that manbunnist?

 

David Beckham started it, I believe, and since then it has been cultivated by the likes of a smorgasbord of talented movie eye-candy actOrs such as Chris Hemsworth, Jake Gyllenghal and Leo De Caprio, so it must be FLAMING hot and the style provides the sort of eccentric titillation that sad old cougars like myself, (who are attracted to deep-thinking, creative man), salivate and go weak at the knees over.

 

What's That Bloody Smell?
Photo courtesy of Tony Quinn at http://www.flickr.com

Actually, maybe Beckham was responsible for the Alice band, not the man bun, which never quite took off in the same way, and explains a lot.

 

But the man bun signifies many desirable qualities in men. It signifies that they are comfortable within without being over-confident, a high level of creativity and being unashamedly in tune with their female side – add all those characteristics together and you get uber-hotness.

 

Unfortunately, it would be physically impossible for the old man to grow a man bun unless miracles truly did exist or one of those very expensive hair potions actually worked. Not that he’d ever go for it anyway – he thinks he’s far too macho to wear a pink shirt let alone a bun on the top of his head.

 

Your thoughts, ladies?

 

 

Letting Your Standards Slip In Middle Age

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after (Photo credit: malloreigh)

The problem with an unhealthily long marriage, the ageing process that leads to a certain invisibility in middle age and working from home, is that there is no real reason to maintain personal standards anymore.

For most of my week, my only work colleague is the dog and it seems that the smellier I am, the more she seems to like me.

I have definitely let my standards slip with middle age.

In truth, I’ve never been one for a high-maintenance level of personal grooming. I still cry if I have to pluck my eyebrows and I have never had anything waxed apart from my upper lip which stops Kurt calling me Magnum, but if the doorbell goes before lunchtime these days I’m really in trouble.

Yoga pants are a HUGE effort for me these days.

You see I rarely get out of my dressing gown before lunchtime now and then it’s a quick change into sports leggings for that run I never quite find the time for.

By early evening, once I’ve found a million excuses to justify not going on that run, I can’t really be bothered to shower either.

In my defense, it is cold at the moment by Sydney standards and as opposed to the summer when I swim a lot in public places and am forced to shower to adhere to public health standards, in the comfort of my own home there is no-one there to judge me.

I get the odd ‘EWWWWWW!’ thrown in my direction from Kurt if he catches a wisp of stray armpit hair or grazes himself on my legs, but I can cope with that.

I do have some pride. If it wasn’t for winter I wouldn’t ordinarily be combing the hairs on my legs now, but a girl needs a layer of insulation for these chillier mornings.

But seriously, I am becoming more than a little concerned about how little I actually care about my personal hygiene these days.

The old man has accused me of being a slob.

Of course, I shower if I exercise and I shower before I go out somewhere nice but for those hours in between, the no-one’s home part of my day, I’ve nailed this nifty little emergency self-cleaning system which involves baby wipes, fresh breath mints and lippy.

When did my standards slip so far?

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Jen Aniston’s New Haircut

Jen Aniston's New HaircutI went to the hairdressers to get Jen Aniston’s new haircut today.

Unlike the majority of women, going to the hairdresser’s is not a favourite pastime of mine. Firstly, it involves me leaving the house and secondly, having to make small talk with someone I don’t know, nor particularly want to know, is not what I call ‘relaxing’.

Then there is the anxiety of leaving the salon looking far worse than when I went in. And I do find it increasingly hard to sit still for two hours.

And the head massage is just plain awkward.

Making the decision to dye my hair for the first time all those years ago is probably up there with cigarette-smoking and eating Green and Black chocolate in terms of bad decisions. It was far easier to give up the cigarettes.

I did try and revert back to my natural shade of common ‘mouse’ a couple of years ago, but the old man, (who wouldn’t notice if I lost both legs), said he didn’t like it, so I’ve been back to bottle-blonde ever since.

But how fucking tedious is it watching someone put foils in your hair? There must be a special clause in health insurance policies to cover hairdressers for mental scarring caused by the sheer monotony of their occupation. Jen Aniston's New Haircut

I rarely get my hair cut these days because I spend all of my hair budget (as well as the old man’s, because fortunately he doesn’t need it) on the dyeing process, so my everyday hairstyle tends to be the messy bun. But because this week I’m PMS-ing, which makes me a little bit impulsive and a lot more demanding (amongst other things), I decided to do something really radical and spice up my hair. And before I knew it, I found myself on Pinterest doing my due diligence when I found out that Jen has recently changed her hairstyle.

Now, I’ve been working ‘the Rachel’ hairstyle very successfully for quite a few years now, but if Jen can cope with change, so can I. (I thought). So I decided to go for Jen’s new bob – which is kind of long at the front and short at the back and a bit choppy. Jen Aniston's New Haircut

WHATEVS – I KNEW WHAT I MEANT!

Got to the hairdressers, VERY excited at the prospect of re-inventing myself and I explained exactly what I wanted to my hairdresser (see above).

But they can never do it, can they? They can never translate the concept in your head, onto your head.

They go too short or they don’t cut off enough and you come out $200 lighter with nothing to show for it – and that is exactly what happened to me today. ALMOST. Because not one to sit quietly back and accept crippling disappointment, I waited until after she’d finished the blow dry and then asked her to do what I’d asked for in the first place to take another inch off – all the way around. Cue awkward silence as all small talk ceased and you could have heard a Kirby grip hit the floor. I stuck my nose in the trashy mags and settled in for lunch and afternoon tea, while my hairdresser started snipping all over again.

Jen Aniston's New HaircutThe end result – my new cut looks a lot like the style worn by Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men. It wouldn’t look out of place on a librarian (Not you, M) or in a pre-school photo in the days when the mums thought that using bowls would be good for cutting their kids hair.

The old man said I looked ‘distinguished’ (FML) and then tried ‘vaguely attractive’ and finally stammered ‘HOW MUCH?’ and had to lie down.

I still look nothing like Jennifer Aniston, but perhaps it’s got nothing to do with the haircut.

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