Archive for the ‘beauty’ Category

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

Been gone. No good excuses. (Well, a family trip to Hawaii followed by a bout with the nastiest of all intestinal viruses — complete with a visit to the ER — but I shan’t bore you with any messy details — other than the fact that, during the ensuing cleanup, my iPhone went through the wash cycle. Donations are currently being accepted, thank you.)

The end-of-the-year festivities always make me a bit sad, a little nostalgic. “Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.” So far, the fates have been kind, and I still have many of the people and the things I love around me. That’ll change, I know, but we won’t think about that right now, okay?

Somewhere in this bittersweet funk, I have been remembering things that used to be really important to me that are no more, and wondering why. Such as:

Desert Flower Lotion. My dad owned a Mom and Pop pharmacy, and I used to love the Desert Flower line of products we carried, the first real lotion that I found made a difference in my desert-dry skin. Probably the aloe. (The original Jergens lotion smelled really good, but that stuff was like water.) One Desert Flower bath set also came with a bottle of light cologne and bath powder in a little round, paper-covered box with a powder puff. So girly. So gone.

Tweed cologne. And Tigress.  I can’t remember who made them, but I clearly remember the scents. Tweed was almost a man’s fragrance, very woodsy, and came in the coolest beige and plaid carton, sort of pre-Burberry. Tigress was much more complex and dark, probably too sophisticated for my 17-year-old self at the time. And the packaging was equally rich and sensual, all dark fur. I can still catch a glimpse of myself and my friend Sherri, down in her basement bedroom, dousing ourselves with Tigress and talking about boys. (She actually dated in high school. I just talked a good game…) Google update: Well, slap me silly. Tweed and Tigress are still available. But their packaging is ALL WRONG. They probably smell different, too. It’s just not the same.

Maybelline cake mascara. Wow, this is an oldie. The mascara came in a little red box that slid open to reveal a small brush and a line of hard brown or black  powder. You’d spit on the mascara moisten the brush, rub it on the cake and brush the mascara on your lashes. Of course, early on, I’d get to junior high early enough to apply it in the school bathroom so Mother wouldn’t catch me wearing make-up. And it helped me realize very early on that black mascara was too harsh-looking for me. One fashion faux pas avoided. I’m sure tube mascara is a vast improvement, but I really liked those little red boxes with their secret, face-changing contents. Other brands of cake mascara are still available on the ‘net, touted as “old Hollywood.”

Yardley Lip Slickers. These actually may still be around, just not at any of the stores I frequent. They conjure up all sorts of images of the British fashion and music invasion that dominated my high school years: Mary Quant, Carnaby Street, Twiggy, the Beatles and the Stones, Marianne Faithfull in her leather and lace. (And to think that byjane was in London, actually living out my fantasies!)

Of course, there are plenty of products I don’t miss, like Secret Cream Deodorant (that did absolutely nothing for a junior high sweat monkey like me and had the ickiest texture), Clearasil skin tone cream (which just made my acne brown),  Noxema Cream Cleanser (What were we thinking? That stuff made my skin worse. It was like Crisco!), sanitary napkin belts (UGH!), and magnetic rollers that we’d sleep in (and my hairstyle would still be gone by mid-afternoon). And weren’t we ALL glad when panty hose showed up?

I largely stumbled my way through adolescence. Never one for fashion, Mother didn’t wear makeup beyond a red lipstick for Church on Sundays, and I had no older sister or nearby cousins to show me the ropes. So I’d scour my monthly issue of Seventeen and scrutinize the faces, bodies and routines of my friends. It was hit and miss, but I found a few things that worked, like a good haircut. The advent of benzoyl peroxide cream and retin-A finally took care of my acne, and I found the Clinique counter at the mall. Antiperspirants continued to improve. (Is anyone else out there as grateful for that as I am?) One word: Tampax. Enough said. And a significant weight loss in my forties finally introduced me to the notion that clothes could be something besides camouflage.

I’ve always felt like a latecomer to the big Cosmetic and Sartorial Party, but I’ve enjoyed myself since I arrived. I just wish sometimes that a few of those products I once loved had arrived with me. They boosted the confidence of an awkward girl and helped her to become, well, me.

Is there something you miss from your wanton youth?

HotHags: Emma Thompson

Posted: November 15, 2011 in beauty, hothags


I can’t decide if this is good news or bad news: Hormones linked to regain of weight lost by dieting

According to the Associated Press, “Dieters who have regained weight are not just slipping back into old habits, but are struggling against a persistent biological urge.”

The study doesn’t sound like junk science, and it was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, which adds to its credibility. And it was pretty rigorous:

Weight regain is a common problem for dieters. To study what drives it, [researchers] enrolled 50 overweight or obese patients in a 10-week diet program in Australia. They wanted to see what would happen in people who lost at least 10 percent of their body weight. Ultimately, only 34 people lost that much and stuck with the study long enough for analysis.

The program was intense. On average, the participants lost almost 30 pounds during the 10 weeks, faster than the standard advice of losing 1 or 2 pounds a week. They took in 500 to 550 calories a day, using a meal replacement called Optifast plus vegetables for eight weeks. Then for two weeks they were gradually reintroduced to ordinary foods.

Not surprisingly, once off the program and despite counseling, most gained some weight back in less than a year.

The scientists checked the blood levels of nine hormones that influence appetite. The key finding came from comparing the hormone levels from before the weight-loss program to one year after it was over. Six hormones were still out of whack in a direction that would boost hunger.

The dieters also rated themselves as feeling hungrier after meals at the one-year mark, compared to what they reported before the diet program began.

As a chronic dieter — and weight gainer — this has been my entire experience. I’m convinced I would be a lot thinner — and would have saved myself a lot of mental anguish — if I’d never started dieting, especially some of the extreme dieting I forced myself through. (Oh, to be as “thin” as I was in high school, when I thought I was a whale…)

At least the timing for this tidbit was fortunate. I had another one of my epiphanies last night: I decided that I was not going to SPEND ONE MORE MINUTE hating or rejecting myself because of how I look. I have wasted too much time and energy (and too many tears) for nothing.

Someone shocked me recently with this question (and answer): Did you know you can make yourself instantly much happier by doing just one thing? Lower your expectations. I think it surprised me because because I’d always bought into the old hang-onto-your-ideals-no-matter-what mindset. But some ideals must be questioned, especially if they come from society and not from within ourselves. I can’t and won’t hold myself up to a societal standard of beauty that I cannot attain.

I have to redefine beauty for myself. And that definition is going to include style, and integrity, and good health, and joy, and mindfulness, and a lot of other good things.

Absolutely Essential Update:


My new pedicure. I call the color “Dried Blood.” (Bwah-ha-ha-ha!) Gotta keep those tootsies pretty before we have to cover them up for the Long Winter. (And, frankly, I like having a little help every couple of months getting the toenails cut and my heels polished.) Feet are a bit puffy, but 100 degrees in the shade will do that to a girl.

Love the sandals. I usually have one piece of clothing that defines that particular season, and I will look back fondly on these yellow Born sandals of 2011, with their embossed flowers on either side. Makes for pretty tracks in the sand.