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Life After 40: Finding the Face of the Invisible Woman

 

Saturday morning I spent two hours researching wrinkle serum. Yes, serum, not cream, because at the ripe old age of just over 45, the skin on my face that once was perfect, is now taunting me with oiliness.

As usual, upon waking, I brushed my teeth and washed my face, applying a store-brand moisturizer  before I padded down the stairs on my freshly pedicured tootsies, to fill up on coffee. It was time to research anti-aging serums. I came across the Clinique Canada site which offered a skin assessment. 

I flipped the camera on my phone so I could see a reflection of my freshly scrubbed face. Gee-Sus!!! When the hell did I finish growing grandma’s jowls  on my face??? The little scanner slid across my reflection, and I was horrified at how much I looked like a sadder version of Cathy Bates in Misery.

A wise woman once told me that at a certain age, I would become invisible. After my little analysis, I was almost grateful to slide under the radar as someone unworthy of notice.

Invisible; I was shocked when it happened. Not because I didn’t believe it, but because I had always been able to stand out in a crowd.  I’ve never considered myself a beauty, but perhaps a natural beauty, with an easy laugh, and ability to gatsby-socialize and bring a smile to almost anyone’s face in any circumstance. I was a sure thing at a party, and in the sack. I was cute. I was confident. I was under 40.

You have an easy smile…

You have beautiful skin. ..

Is that your natural eye colour or are those contacts?…

These were an assortment of daily compliments that were gifted to me during the course of my day-to-day interactions. Eventually these compliments have dwindled to become merely a distant memory.

That’s how it happened. Not all of a sudden, but gradually. It was like putting on your favourite jeans one day, and not being able to button them up. I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t rock me. It was like trying to keep my balance during an earthquake. It didn’t matter what I tried to cling to in my repetoire of feel-good-physical-traits, nothing felt stable.

The older women were correct; the crepe-skinned-chain-smoking-60-something-one-time-beach-bunny who advised me to make my memories while I was young, my mumster who first presented the invisibility theory, and my granola-crunching senior advisors who cheered on my loose-morals and stiletto heeled antics from the closed-door sidelines of their lonely Friday nights.

Wisely, I did indulge in all of the sensual pleasures of youth, and I’m still a bit of a lush when it comes to wine, women and song. I am also however more aware of the pressure that we face as women to never age (on the outside).

Unless you’ve made a career of your beauty, or were privileged enough to have role models who convinced you to establish self-care habits  at an early age,  you likely have found yourself staring back at one hell of a woman whom you fear is trapped, forever under  jowls and deep wtf wrinkles between her brows.

Today I smiled when a friend of mine who just rounded the corner on 40 commented on the not-so-easy-to-transform, changes in her body. This, the same person who made me cry when she told me I looked old, just as I was feeling old for the very first time in my life.  I told her I’d just been out buying skin care products….and an absurd amount of red wine…

I shared with her some of the things I have found that bring a smile to my over-forty-face. They help to make me glow on the outside the same way I still feel on the inside;

 

  1. Dr. Jart Vital Hydra Solution Mask

dr jart

 

2. Clinique – All About Eyes

all about eyes

3. Hope’s End Red Blend

hopesend

4. Revlon Super Lustrous in Love That Pink

love that pink

5. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair

wrinkle repair

 

6. Life Brand Bubbling Face Mask

This comes in new, white packaging now.

bubbling face mask

 

 

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For Women Only: Tips For Staying Youthful Looking

Granma-hippieWaking up and checking our smartphones is a sign of the times I think.

I check to see if my kiddo needs me. I check to see what the schedule is like at work, the weather, how many of you read my latest post, and what some small-minded arsehole of a man has decided I need to know about making myself beautiful.

Ok, the last point – I really don’t wake up to read that. I am exposed to it.

This morning, while scrolling through my feed Cheech Marin shared a post that suggested what not to do to stay youthful looking. Some of the tips included;

Do not wear jersey anything

Do not wear long hair.

Don’t wear loose fitting anything, but don’t wear skinny jeans either

Don’t wear chunky, funky frames for your glasses.

Don’t wear a specific shade of pantyhose.

Although some of the suggestions may feel right to some of the women out there, it all felt a little too 1950’s-keep-your-ankles-crossed to me.

And really, Cheech Marin is sharing this? Cheech, I’ve got news for you; grown women don’t give a shit what you think, and perhaps you might take a look in the mirror? Oh, no, I’m not going there and being nasty about his looks. Nope. That’s not what this is about.

Cheech, like everyone else on the planet is beautiful because of his smile, his authentic style, and his way of being Cheech, nothing more and nothing less.

Which brings me to the essence of what I want to say; screw everyone else’s ideas. For instance, I demanded a small piece of chocolate cake for breakfast…

Ok, maybe make healthy choices for yourself so you don’t end up with gout, but do be (doo-be-doo) sure to enjoy this life.

phyllisMy suggestions for staying youthful for women and men;

Don’t let your weight hold you back from anything. Back fat and belly rolls do not mean you deserve to be holed up in the house alone. Laughter and curiosity are healthy, no matter what your size.

Wear your hair however you damn well please, and don’t worry about it all day long.

Make-up: Do whatever makes you feel good. Some days I’m glam, some days I’m  ma’am.

Clothing; Are you comfortable? Yes? Then that’s good.

Pantyhose – do whatever floats your boat – men, women and everyone on the spectrum.

Jersey fabric – absofreakinglutely.

Eyeglasses; You likely will need them as you age. Wear something funky, wear something classic, just fucking wear them so you don’t have to ask someone else to read menus or street signs to you.

Do not be so infatuated with yourself that you miss out on the wonderful world around you. Do not be a navel gazer…

And that my darlings is your list to help you stay youthful. Look outward. See the world, and engage in it. No one cares about your hair, or your panty hose, or the shade of your frames. We do care that you are clean, authentic and kind.

Don’t stink.

Be true to your personal values.

Be nice.

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Mirror Mirror

Bush Trimming / Horticultural Bikini Wax by Banksy
Bush Trimming / Horticultural Bikini Wax by Banksy (Photo credit: dullhunk)

Spa visits are rife with interesting conversational tidbits. In my own mind that is.

Now, I have, as most ladies do, a regular aesthetician.

I’ve found a waxer and polisher that I like, and I have been faithful to her for the past five years.

We know what to expect from  one another. I drop my pants, and she efficiently goes about her business, with the soothing sounds of water and the pan flute flowing from the sound system.

Water and the pan flute don’t drown out the sound of screaming. That’s somewhat comforting, knowing the music isn’t a cover up for torture chambers, just an attempt to relax you as hot wax drips just  millimeters away from your little girl.

Today my groomer was away. Gone. Not to be found. I was at the mercy of another woman, and my anxiety hummed up an octave.

As I spread my grand, gorgeous self across the waxing table, I began to wonder at all of the unspoken thoughts I have, and that my aesthetician must certainly have.

First of all, I always wear ugly undies. It is not desirable that the woman waxing my personality-below-the-belt find my gitch interesting or attractive.

Mainly I’m concerned that they my panties are old enough I won’t care if wax gets on them, and that they are clean and odourless.

If we’re honest with ourselves darlings, the only two reasons that we go to the spa are that we’re too lazy to do the work ourselves (’cause let’s face it, with a little practice any woman can keep her pubes groomed and her nails painted), and, it’s an hour or two long escape from our men and children.

It’s sad that having our pubic hair pulled out is a break from how hard we’re expected to work at home.

So today, with my legs spread open, the only work I do is hold up one side of my Wal-Mart panties as my groomer applies warm wax to the edge of the pleasure pit, and then mercilessly pulls all the hair out. Yah. Nice.

Her method is slightly different, and she’s muttering a bit.  I’ve gone so long to the same Vietnamese owned spa that I’m convinced  if my labia were to speak, they’d be fluent in Vietnamese slang.  If I ever travel to that part of the world, I think I’ll just wear a dress and walk on my hands.

This goes on, until she assumes she’s balded me sufficiently in all the right places. I have a general sense that all is well in the valley of passion, and prepare to get up, and regain my dignity (aka put my pants back on).

Instead, she holds my shoulder down and offers a mirror. “Here. You check.”  Pardon?  Um… No.

That’s just a little to finicky and a bit kinky for my taste. Looking at my own lady bits in a mirror in this small space with another woman is like the B quality porn warm up to mutual masturbation.

Nah. No thanks. I’ll just take your word for it. I’m having someone come and check your work later on. With their tongue. I’ll let you know what they think.

Next time I’m not just walking in. I’ll be sure to book an appointment with my aesthetician – no mirror required.

We make our way over to the spa chairs, where there is a warm, bubbling spa waiting for my toesies.

There is no eye contact. We both pretend she hasn’t just seen my holiest-of-holies, and I relax as she buffs and polishes the less taboo bits.

There is no tip generous enough in my opinion for the women who do our dirty work.