Tag Archives: beauty

Aging: Becoming My Mother’s Daughter

Next month is my birthday. I have about 6 weeks of being 36 left.

I’m told I look younger. This is good news, I like it.

Truth be told, I really don’t care about looking “36”. Not yet. I probably will. Likely when it starts to show. When I’m 42. Heh, heh.

But you know what?

A shot taken of me by my friend Rick Rake at an event on July 28th, 2010.

I’ve worked for that age. The sun damage my skin shows now is in stark contrast to the pasty-white well-hidden tubby non-outdoors girl I was for the majority of my life. When I was a kid, I was the fat kid who whined and lied about pretend injuries to get out of sports. Every hike I was supposed to do, I got out of.

I was so not a joiner. I was pudgy, pudgy, wheezy girl.

Not so much these days. I’m not where I need to be, but I’m better than I’ve been since I was 18, and there aren’t a lot of 36-year-olds who can attest to being healthier than they’ve ever been — than they’ve literally EVER been.

Despite that health, I’m caught with fatigue a lot of the time. I just deal with it. My friend who’s 42 tells me she was always tired for a few years in her 30s. I’m assuming that’s where I’m at. I eat fairly well, exercise 6 or more hours a week. What more can you ask, right?

Honestly? My newly-appearing wrinkles give me pause. I’m not sure I’m wild about them just yet. I do, however, like the “character” they give my grin these days and the way they highlight the twinkle in my eyes.

I think I wear the few wrinkles I have well. I know my mother wore her age fantastically, like a perfect-fitting pair of jeans.

People were devastated when my mother died. She was a sexy-as-hell redhead at 57 when cancer took her 11 years ago this week. She looked fantastic. Dead? How ironic.

I’m thinking a lot about her this week. Maybe it’s part of my reclusiveness of late. 11 years. Wow. Mind-boggling. Can’t help but reflect on anniversaries, and I’m not thinking so much about the loss of her this year as I am about the woman I’m becoming on my own life journey, and if it parallels my mother’s. Wish I could ask.

I think a woman’s 36th year is pretty pivotal in who she is. She’s now out of the “targeted demographic” most coveted by marketers, she’s starting to pay attention to wrinkle creams and thinking biological-clock type thoughts if she’s not already a mother. It’s the beginning of the transition from “breeder” to “matriarch”, a different kind of role that women seem to play when they hit early middle ages.

One day we’re the chick next door that the guy wants to hang out with and tries to sleep with, the next we’ve become Mrs. Robinson and anyone we chase under our age begets us a label of “cougar”. It’s a quicker transition than you might think.

I’m not sure if I’ve hit that stage yet, since friends still think I look 28, so I might be able to get away with more.

That youthful appearance may not linger a lot longer, as the greys and wrinkles begin to mount.

I both like and loathe the greys I have now, even if few in number. They multiply.

Today, I’m thinking about getting a punk-rock haircut again and embracing the salt-n-pepper look that’s coming on. There’s something tasty about edgy prematurely-greying people. Very, very tasty. I can pull that off. Not like I’ll be all grey tomorrow anyhow.

Age, I guess, really is a state of mind. I know some folks at 36 who look like they’re in their 40s. How you live really starts to show through in a hurry, and it’s your choice. This is the age that your lifestyle becomes visibly apparent to everyone.

Because of that, getting older doesn’t scare me. It’s probably to do with decent genetics (that come with a ticking time bomb but sure look pretty) and probably because I feel like I’ve been through enough in life already that whatever’s coming down the pipes is something I know I’ll just handle. Scared? Who’s scared?

No, I ultimately like my age. I’d rather be turning 37 than 22 again. You couldn’t give me enough money in the world to relive my 20s. My 30s ain’t been no walk in the park, either, but from 35 on? Yeah. I like it. Liking it more all the time, the further I get from my past and the more progress I make on this vision of who I always cheated myself out of being.

Some of us SURVIVED our 20s. Some of us kind of defied an awful lot of odds to get past where we were. Some of us really fucking love coming into our older, more comfortable selves.

I wish the media could understand that. I wish marketers got it. My age is almost like a battle-wound scar. Like that scene in the movie Jaws, where Quint, Brody, and Hooper are shooting the shit about old scars:

Brody[pointing at Quint’s tattoo scar] What’s that one?
Quint: Oh, that’s a tattoo. I got that removed.
Hooper: Let me guess. “Mother!” [laughs]
Quint: Hooper, that’s the U.S.S. Indianapolis.
[Hooper’s face drops]
Hooper: You were on the Indianapolis?
Brody: What happened?
Quint: Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin’ back from the island of Tinian to Leyte. We’d just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn’t see the first shark for about a half-hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that in the water, Chief? You can tell by lookin’ from the dorsal to the tail.

As far as some of us are concerned, we probably shouldn’t even be alive. Enough’s gone on that, y’know, our survival’s really by the grace of God or whoever else was in the kitchen. Signs of age, to some of us, are like proof of getting to The Other Side.

At this point, I don’t see myself changing my hair to hide the greys. I’ll never be slowly salt-and-peppering again in my life, I want to enjoy the awkward and cute transition.

I also don’t see myself trying to hide wrinkles with Botox, ‘cos I never thought my face would be thin enough to have wrinkles — I thought it’d be unhealthily fat and smooth for decades yet. Wrinkles? SERIOUSLY? Okay, bring ’em.

There’s something satisfying about slowly becoming my mother’s daughter. I’m one size away from being the same size as her before her death, even if I’m 40-50 pounds heavier. Muscle tone!

Every now and then, I look in the mirror, and a woman who sort of reflects the mother I had as a wee little lass is the woman staring back at me. I still can’t believe that’s who I’m becoming. When I was 5 going on 6, Mom was the age I am now.

I never saw myself being here, now, looking more and more like her as she was then, every day.

But I’m starting to really, really like it.

White Power: Teeth Strips and Other Beauty Addictions

I want to be a sex goddess.

I know: I’ll buy teeth-whitening strips. That’ll do it.

Skill? Who needs skill? Communication strategies? Pshaw! No, I just need white teeth.

This is what the media would have you believe, isn’t it? Hey, she must be an all-American girl. See how white her teeth are? Geez. She really is the driven snow, but hey, I’d let her drive me.

Ahh, the media and beauty. If ever there was a more bastardly combination. Sigh. Where to begin? Where, oh, where, oh, where, oh, where?

Well, let’s go back from whence we came. Teeth-whitening. Well, I’m a cute gal. I’ve got a gap-toothed smile, though, you know. Just one gap, and not in the centre. I like it, actually. Character. I also have this one eyebrow with a crook in it, which leaves me easily delivering “devious” gazes in times of seduction. Those, and a small scar on my nose from when I had a tete-a-tete with a paintcan in grade two, are my flaws. But despite those, I have pluses. I’ve got warm green eyes that emote brilliantly, decent cheek bones, and even with their itty-bitty flaws, my teeth are pretty darned white, ergo I have a nice smile, and I’ve got nice, plush, full lips to frame ‘em. I’m all right, gap and all, ‘cos I’m just who I’m supposed to be, right?

Still, I did it. Those fuckers sucked me in. I bought them. I did. I justified it, though. ”I’m buying generic. I’m not a sheep. And hey, it’s on sale!” And I forked out $25 of my last dollars to pick up the fabulous, oh-so-now box of GLAM, BABY. Yeah, I bought the strips. What’s more, I bought the possibility of a less-flawed me. That’s what they’re really selling, after all.

Have you done this shit? Seriously. All right, we all know that getting sexy is an ugly, ugly business. Hair removal? Not attractive. Some ugly things go down when we’re alone and trying to get all sexed up. The things we inspect, the preening we strain to do. Oh, dear. It’s a wonder we come out of that with any self-esteem at all (even more mysterious considering those who willingly use the 10x magnification uberflaw-exposing mirrors — shudder).

But these strips? Dear, god. Insert them, and become a drooling mass of incoherence, a moisture monkey. Sex factor? Nil, man. I did one individual set of strips a couple weeks back and haven’t been back to do another set since.

I swear, you drool like Lenny when George has let him pet the rabbits too much. “But, George, I like to pet the rabbits. They’s so soft, George.”

Slurp, drool. It’s repulsive, really. Do not do this around your lover. It’d be so inconvenient to have them conjure a drooling-mass in-coital image of you arise to shatter — mercilessly — any hope of orgasm for that foreseeable moment.

And this ain’t no “God, I’m being pleasured ORALLY!” slurp of sexual satiation we’re talking about here. This is along the lines of “Granny’s having soup again, put her teeth on the counter”. So, unless you’ve a geriatric fetish…

But you know why they keep sucking us in? Insecurities. Beautiful means loved means admired means successful means laid, laid, laid. Oh, yeah, I’m in for the Kool-aid. Gimme some of that.

It’s our insecurities. I mean, hell, if you could find the ego as a bodypart, you could go and put an X for “hit me here” right on top of it. Our psyche’s one big soft spot. We’re all vulnerable in one way or another. We’re all judging ourselves a little on the harsh side, some people excessively so.

All our lives, we’re told to be better. Doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, you’ve been told one of two things: Be better, or conversely, forget better — you’ll never be any better, you’re trash. It’s all the same, still boils down got to look better, act better, live better, do better, speak better, better, better.

The cosmetics industry is playing that up like you wouldn’t believe. And now they’ve gone and gotten the boys all worked into a frenzy now, too. The last bastion of oblivion has been shattered, giving way to the rise of the metrosexual. Such pretty boys. I hate to admit it, I do like ‘em. They got that ready-to-eat look that conveys “yummy” and “sink teeth in” to me. Come on, you know what I’m talkin’ about. Some people are edibles. Some have “food group” and “recommended part of a balanced diet” all over ’em.

But there’s a lot to be said for rugged men, too, though. They clean up, and well. I like doing the cleaning, too. Rinse-and-repeat. Mostly repeat.

But you see? This is what they’re doing. Men are getting as compartmentalized and as stereotyped as women have always been. It started a couple decades ago, probably even as early as the ‘70s, but it’s blown out of the water in the last five or so years. Now guys are getting just as silly as the girls have been, via spending insane amounts on cosmetics and other beauty fixes. (Surgery, anyone?)

I’ve always been that type. My insecurities seemed tethered to my expenditures. “But it’s expensive, I’ll be beeyootiful the instant it touches skin!”

I’ve spent so damned much on the myth. I’ve always had a little bit of problem skin. I’m of Irish descent, so my complexion’s really fair, right? So, I’d often get blackheads on my nose. Every product I bought would do jack all about the problem, and I was spending $40 a bottle for this crap.

These days, I use a variety of skin cleansers, but when I want to exfoliate, I throw some sugar into it and lather up. My skin’s the best it’s ever been, my rosacea is completely gone for a more porcelain (ergo more corruptable, ergo good) look, and I’ve been looking five years younger since I started cheaping out. And my face is softer now, too. Truly. (Which is no mean feat since I ride a scooter and get exposed to the elements year-round.)

The irony is, They (the Man, et al) used to tell men that sugar was a great face scrub. I always thought, “Damn men, they’ve got all the luck.” I was gullible. But I put two and two together when the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy guys came along. At the start of the series, they’d tell the guys to scrub with sugar. It didn’t take long for them to be selling the “men’s exclusive facial care products” crap to the guys, though. “But it’s crushed avocado seed. It’ll give you…” rosacea, actually. Geez. That’s not exfoliation, that’s abrasion, dudes.

It took being broke to give me the best complexion I’ve had since my teens. Fuck H20, the Body Shop, and everyone else. Some things are worth spending money on, for sure, but I think the face-washing thing’s getting a tad out of control. My skin’s proof.

And this rant all started from me brushing my teeth before bed and eyeballing, guiltily, the box of whitening strips. My point? It’s a sad fucking thing that our insecurities cost us so much both financially and chronologically. Ah, if only being a sex god was simpler.