Archive for the ‘beauty’ Category

Drug of choice

Posted: December 14, 2012 in beauty, health, mental health, women
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Caitlin Moran, author of “How to Be a Woman,” had a terrific article in the WSJ this year about food addiction, which is apparently the vilest, most despised of addictive disorders when ranked by addicts themselves (and the general public, for that matter…)

…I’m talking about those for whom the whole idea of food isn’t one of pleasure, but one of compulsion. For whom thoughts of food, and the effects of food, are the constant, dreary background static to normal thought. Those who walk into the kitchen in a state bordering on panic and breathlessly eat slice after slice of bread and butter—not even tasting it—until the panic can be drowned in an almost meditative routine of chewing and swallowing, spooning and swallowing.

In this trancelike state, you can find a welcome, temporary relief from thinking for 10, 20 minutes at a time, until finally a new set of sensations—physical discomfort and immense regret—make you stop, in the same way you finally pass out on whiskey or dope. Overeating, or comfort eating, is the cheap, meek option for self-satisfaction, and self-obliteration.

Yet, paradoxically, unlike other addictions, it allows its victims to be surprisingly functional:

In a nutshell, then, by choosing food as your drug—sugar highs, or the deep, soporific calm of carbs—you can still make the packed lunches, do the school run, look after the baby, stop in on your parents and then stay up all night with an ill 5-year-old—something that is not an option if you’re regularly climbing into the cupboard under the stairs and knocking back quarts of scotch.

Overeating is the addiction of choice of “carers,” and that’s why it’s come to be regarded as the lowest-ranking of all the addictions. It’s a way of screwing yourself up while still remaining fully functional, because you have to. Fat people aren’t indulging in the “luxury” of their addiction, making them useless, chaotic or a burden. Instead, they are slowly self-destructing in a way that doesn’t inconvenience anyone. And that is why it’s so often a woman’s addiction of choice.

And unless the public and the media quit despising fat people, in particular fat women, this isn’t likely to change.

(Hat tip to Hufflington Post’s Best Articles of 2012.)


“I like to do nothing, to escape from purpose: to brood, to think back and forth; to sit by a fire in Winter, or in a garden in Summer; to loaf on a sea-beach with the sun on me; to hang over the wall of a pier-head watching the waves in their green and white tantrums; to sit in a brasserie on a Parisian boulevard with a common bock, and the people moving to and fro; to idle in parks or public squares, or in the quadrangles and closes of colleges, or the Inns of Court, or the great cathedrals; to forget haste and effort in old empty churches, or drowsy taverns; to rest by a road-side hedge, or in a churchyard where sheep browse; to lie in a punt in the green shade of the willows; to sit on a fence–these things please me well.”

Holbrook Jackson, The Anatomy of Bibliomania (via the fabulous Terry Teachout)

Le manicure

Posted: September 11, 2012 in beauty, fashion, style
Tags: , ,

I usually choose a demure, ladylike pink, but I was feelin’ a little bad*ss today. Kind of a mud shade, not red or brown.

Hey, it’s still a neutral! (OPI “You Don’t Know Jackie,” to be exact.) The toes are a more conventional “cathouse red.”


Good news, bad news

Posted: August 27, 2012 in beauty, health

The good news is that I went to my first MWF noon-hour spinning class.

It was sponsored by Ye Olde Salt Mines’ wellness program, and it was free! And I did great! (For me, anyway…)

The bad news is that I am SERIOUSLY going to have to rethink my hair post-workout.

HagRags: All mixed up

Posted: August 16, 2012 in beauty, fashion

When I was six or seven, I had a cherry red sleeveless polka dot top that I delighted in wearing with a pair of red-and-white plaid shorts. I remember looking at myself in the big round mirror of Mother’s 30s-era dressing table (the one that came with its little matching stool) and thinking that I was all that and a side of fries.

My delight, alas, was to be short-lived.

“You can’t wear that,” said The Older Brother, who, at 11, already considered himself the absolute Last Word on what was fashionable or cool. “That looks dumb.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “I think it looks good.”

“You can’t wear two patterns together,” he said. “Gosh, you are so STUPID.”

I was crushed. I had no sisters to consult (and Mother was no help), so I swallowed his opinion whole and never wore that lovely little ensemble again.

(Fast forward about, oh, 50 years…)

AHA! I AM VINDICATED! One CAN wear two patterns together! Even plaids and polka dots! ESPECIALLY plaids and polka dots!

Actually, pattern-mixing has been around for a long time. I remember reading a biography of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, that scandalous pair, and the author mentioned that it was the Duke’s penchant for wearing paisley ties and striped shirts with his discretely plaid suits that ramped up pattern mixing, at least in menswear. Also, those wonderful ladies at over at Advanced Style seemed to have no qualms about mixing things up, and they appear pretty practiced at it.

While it’s  taken a few extra years for the trend to catch up to me, or me to it, I think the past six months on the street fashion sites and fashion blogs have been a particularly delightful time.  I may not be as brave as the fashionistas on Everybody Everywhere when it sponsored a pattern-mixing day, but I’ve been dabbling in combining this scarf with that top, or that dress with this jacket. And it’s been FUN. Isn’t that the whole point of fashion?

If you’re still not quite convinced, let me offer some of the best advice I’ve gleaned about mixing things up (with examples from my own closet):

Start with stripes.

This is the safest and easiest route I’ve found, and it helps that I already have lots of striped pieces to work with. Polka dots also work well as a more “neutral” print.

Use accessories. Hey, you already wear jewelry, don’t you? Layered necklaces and bracelets can be viewed as a pattern, and a cute patterned scarf or pair of shoes can be a low-risk way of bumping up the volume. (And, when your children make fun of your outfit, you can always take a shoe off and beat them soundly with it or strangle them with the scarf.)

Mix a large pattern with a smaller print.

This tones down any competition, and helps avoid making you look like you got dressed in the dark.

Stay in the same color family.

This is my most daring combo so far — and it completely breaks with the previous suggestion, which probably should tell you something about following rules in the fashion game. To make it a little less jarring, I used the next suggestion —

Cool down the combination with a block of color or a neutral shade. This is a trick I discovered on my own, and it makes me a little more comfortable with my combos.

A little separation, a little blank space can often quiet any sartorial noise. I mostly use black, because I have so much of it in my closet, but I’m trying to use other shades.

And lastly: Have fun, but don’t push it.

I remember driving by the ESL (English language) instruction labs on campus last year and watching the  Asian chicks stroll to class in their random mixed-pattern outfits, which looked strange to me but that (as demonstrated by their body language) clearly made them feel fabulous. I can’t quite carry that off, and I probably shouldn’t try. (This photo is from StreetPeeper, a fun global street fashion site.)

So now, I’ve opened up a host of new combos from my closet, and I can finally reassure my seven-year-old self that I was right all along. Just file this one under Finished Fashion Business.

And to Older Brothers (and fashion critics) everywhere: PFFFFFFFFFT!

I’ve been mulling over a rant about body image and cultural expectations, but ohmygoodnessheavensforsakes Tish at Une femme d’un certain age has a post up today that articulates many of my own feelings. (It’s part of a larger discussion with the Duchesse at Passage des Perles.) Tish espouses the more relaxed attitude taken by the French toward body image, and posted some rather remarkable images of full-figured models from French Elle. But what a dust-up she created in the comments! While many agree with her relaxing the so-called rules for what size can be considered fashion-forward, several of her readers (who are also of a certain age) seem to cling fiercely to the thin-is-in ethos and reject the models as being far too zaftig to be stylish.

(Le grande sigh…) I’m 60 freakin’ years old, and I have worried (and dieted and then overeaten) myself to death since I was, oh, NINE, about the terrible state of my thighs (and stomach and arms, etc. etc. ad nauseum). It’s always lurking somewhere on the edge of my consciousness, this sense that I am not acceptable.

I’m not advocating stocking the freezer with ice cream and throwing away the treadmill. But isn’t it time to give it all a rest? After all, as Tish mentions, Frenchwomen would agree that after a certain age, women have to choose between their faces and their butts figures, and I think I’d prefer to put my best face forward.

I’m considering stitching her last paragraph into a sampler:

Life is short.  Eat real food, move around whenever you can in ways that you enjoy, and re-evaluate your beliefs and values periodically to be sure they’re serving you.  Question and discard those that aren’t.  In the end, a little roll of fat around the middle doesn’t say anything about the kind of person you are or how much you loved and were loved.

Where do you stand in the ongoing battle?

I haven’t yet had to put on a swimsuit. So far, so good…

Hope your summer is going “swimmingly!”

(This post shamelessly ripped off inspired by Fern at The Fur Flies.)

HotHags: Lauren Hutton

Posted: January 31, 2012 in beauty, hothags, style

Patti over at Not Dead Yet Style has posted the most wonderful homage to one of my fashion icons, Lauren Hutton. I would love to be as comfortable in my skin as she seems to be in hers. And that lovely gap-toothed smile always makes me rethink all of my fashion faults. Isn’t she swell? Thanks, Patti!

Becoming invisible

Posted: January 23, 2012 in aging, beauty, discrimination

As I may have mentioned before, I do try to keep myself up, although it’s becoming a bit more challenging all the time. So a web coupon for a two-for-one microdermabrasion package sounded like just the thing for a post-New Year’s pick-me-up. Both Mother and her sister had serious age spots and other pigmentation issues with their faces, and I didn’t like what I was seeing in the mirror, despite my liberal use of some of the over-the-counter creams. So I did the deal and made the call.

The “spa” where I would receive my treatments was in a nearby town and, like many such services, was attached to a plastic surgeon’s practice. Walking in, I was impressed by the decor and vibe. It was very zen — all blonde wood and stainless steel, water fountains and cushions, with the requisite new age music playing gently in the background. I’ve had such treatments before, but this was probably the most chi-chi place I’d ever visited, and I made a mental note that, if I liked the service and the price was good, I’d probably return.

The receptionists were both occupied, so I stood for a moment and continued to survey the room. The nearest receptionist was young and attractive and pleasant, and she would eventually take me back to the “solarium” where I’d fill out my paper work and wait for my therapist. The other woman at the counter — well, she was my first clue that this would be a memorable experience.

Rail thin, she could have been anywhere from 25 to 50 (that was probably the point) and I have never seen anyone so whose face was so sculpted, all taut skin and protruding cheekbones and unruffled brow, except for her lips, which were double plumped. A generous application of makeup accentuated all the angles.

Now, I don’t think I’m a complete snob about such things, and I will allow that some women can benefit psychologically from “a little work” (like my middle-aged friend whose husband unceremoniously dumped her in the middle of her chemotherapy). This, however, was WAY beyond a little work, and was, for the right potential client, probably great advertising for the nearby plastic surgeon.

No, it wasn’t her appearance that was startling. I stood at the desk for several minutes, chatting with the other receptionist, and at some point, I realized that the well-sculpted woman wouldn’t look at me. No, she wouldn’t even acknowledge I was there. And by the time I left, neither would anyone else. My therapist was very competent, but I had expected at least a half-hour or more of pampering, and she had me out the door in 15 minutes. And, unlike every other day spa I’ve visited, no one tried to sell me anything or get me to return for other services, even though in my paperwork I had marked several procedures that I might be interested in. I was literally hustled in and hustled out.

Surprised, I mused about all this I sat in my car in the parking lot, and I came to two conclusions:

1. I wasn’t their kind of client. They wanted walking advertisements for their services, and no matter how much work I had done, I would never meet their mark.

2. At 60, I was the walking embodiment of a future they — in particular the well-sculpted woman — probably feared with all their souls, a future where they couldn’t depend on their looks to open doors and make their lives easier. If I hadn’t been standing in front of them with a paid-for voucher for services, I think they would have looked right past me.

I’ve never been able to cash in on my looks (which is why I became smart and funny), so I don’t understand that kind of dread. My fears about aging run along the lines of disability and penury. But I’ve never had anyone make me feel that invisible before, and I expect it will happen again. I’m 60, and most of the time I’m pretty okay about that. But I keep running into reminders that a lot of people aren’t okay about it, for themselves and for anyone else.

Are you okay about your age? I certainly hope so.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

— Robert Frost