Beauty Befuddlement and Makeup Tips from Men

 

Beauty Befuddlement and Makeup Tips from Men - closetdramablog.wordpress
Photo by William Ivan on Unsplash

Sent:

Please have my back at work tomorrow.  I’ve just had my first ever spray tan and look like an African tribeswoman.  The guys will crucify me. 

Received:

Don’t worry – I’ll tell them you’ve had your teeth whitened.

That evening, on returning home sticky, grubby and humiliated from the beauty salon, where I’d stood in a pod as an apparently pubescent beautician knelt at eye-level with my pasty, bare bottom, Drew asked if he could take some photos of me for when he might need cheering up.

My male work-mates were more subtle the next morning.  They just looked puzzled at each other whenever I spoke and when one passed my desk to go to lunch, he slowly and deliberately enunciated:  “Would…you…like…to…try…some…of…our…local…food?”

And I only realised after I’d stormed into the boss’s office barking: “I need a decision right now!” she was probably trying to remember when she’d recruited a mud-wrestler.

Since passing 50, I have become resigned to needing a little more help from the beauty industry unless I want to look a fright. I’m not unfeminine, but I’ve never had much interest in cosmetic upkeep and I’m baffled by the procedures and products.

No more so than on a recent European hotel and spa holiday where the salon staff spoke very little English. Probably thinking he’d hit on what any woman would want, Drew generously arranged for me to choose a ‘treatment’. I declined to have my feet nibbled by fish (after very little consideration) and instead opted for a type of manicure I didn’t understand. The options were ‘regular’ which I presumed was a file and polish I could’ve managed myself; ‘permanent’ which seemed like too much of a commitment and a mid-priced one I didn’t quite catch the name of, but which sounded the safest nonetheless.  Fortunately, being on holiday, I had no need for typing skills, but when I returned, it was evident the nails had to come off – somehow.  After a period of frustration, my daughter came to the rescue before I slammed my fingers in the door.

I never leave the house without mascara – people might think I’d been crying.

The moment I wake up, before I put on my makeup, I say a little prayer:  “Please let this go well and without me smudging a ruinous blob of mascara on my nose in the final moments.” I never leave the house without mascara – people might think I’d been crying, but it’s not enough anymore. There are literally dozens of things you should be putting on your mug in the morning if cosmetics companies are to be believed.

Makeup primer for example, is pretty pricey for a tiny amount of something you may have thought belongs in the shed with the undercoat and gloss. I asked a friend if she knew of such a thing and was told hers had lasted a couple of years. I took this as a good sign until she admitted never using it because she was unsure what it did.

I felt sure spritzer was a white wine drink. I’ve learned it’s some sort of spray to set my makeup.  As it turns out, a shot of hairspray works just as well according to a male friend  who also suggested using haemorrhoid ointment instead of lashing out on extortionately priced unctions to control the bags under my eyes.

Apart from the nails and reckless respray, eyebrow tinting is another salon treatment I was pressured to try when my own started to turn grey.  Over 50s must resist plucking random, grey eyebrow hairs or we end up looking like ancient Japanese aristocrats as our eyebrows don’t regrow.  Don’t throw away your tweezers though – you’ll need them for your chin.

Eyebrow mascara, according to one red-blooded work colleague, is a less expensive alternative to tinting and he wouldn’t be seen without his.  This nugget was passed to me in such a conspiratorial manner, I began to wonder if women aren’t being taken for fools here as there must surely be a think tank somewhere hatching pointless practices and merchandise with the purpose of defrauding women who are hopelessly trying to look youthful or worry about being found with only lip balm, sunscreen and mouth fresheners in their makeup bags.

Much as I welcome tips from men, daughters are the best for guiding the mature mum through the maze of makeup and accessories on the market as well as letting us know when we’ve got it wrong.  You’re not kidding my look needs updating – have you tried applying liner to loose-fitting eyelids wearing reading glasses? But it was helpful to have clarification regarding the brushes.  The biggest type is for agitating my foundation – was I supposed to be doing that? I now have two of those for when one’s in the dishwasher – does anyone else do that?  Another brush is for contouring – what even is that?

Although I’m slightly suspicious cosmeticians are collectively taking advantage of our insecurities by intimidation, I’m not suggesting starting a movement to reclaim our right to be preservative free.  I know I’d be left hanging.  But it now takes such effort and a chunk of time every day to look this natural and I really can’t get up any earlier than I already do.  And now when I tell him I’m nipping upstairs to do my ‘colouring in’ for an evening out, Drew is unsure whether to start the car or stick the kettle on.

He is patience personified however and completely understanding after a recent remark made by his little granddaughter.  Lying on his chest early one morning, she gently stroked his skin and asked:  “Grandpa – why is your face cracked?”

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The Granny Grievance

A one-woman protest against the G-word

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Firstly, let me get this straight:  I have nothing whatsoever against grandchildren. I won’t even bother trying to convince you of that by telling you how wonderful and loveable mine are – much more so than anyone else’s in fact.  My grievance as a British grandmother is how anyone yet to reach the grandparent milestone uses the word ‘granny’ as a default derogatory term to illustrate how something is old-fashioned, irrelevant and dull.

And it’s often inaccurately used to mean elderly.

Sometimes, when others also in their 50s congratulated me on becoming a grandmother, there was an undertone of ridicule. “Congratulations Granny” implied I had suddenly somehow managed to become elderly without them and was officially slipping into senility.  My response was usually, “I’m not your granny.” And anyway, my grandchildren call me ‘Nana’.

Even my colleagues had to be warned: “Granny in the room,” at a recent planning meeting when the G-word was used to stress how our resources should be up-to-date and accessible for our teenage students. It’s important to point out when others show ignorance or bigotry lest their ill-informed attitude should be allowed to influence others and perpetuate the myth that all grannies are ‘little old ladies’.

There’s been much discussion recently about female stereotyping and discrimination.  I’d like to add another layer to this abomination: age.  Mature ladies are offered even less respect than other women and girls.  I’m not asking for special esteem, but I’m neither silly nor unconnected and shouldn’t dismissed.

The Granny Grievance
Nigella Lawson in a cardigan. Photo by Justin Lloyd/Newspix

If you must know, I was born in the same year as Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp. I’m only three years older than Halle Berry. I’m younger than Iman, Sheryl Crow and Nigella Lawson and many others you wouldn’t expect to see in a pinny and pearls knitting cereal.

I’m at a funny age which doesn’t fit the granny stereotype: too old to be Jennifer Lawrence and too young to be a sassy senior such as septuagenarians Jane Fonda or Lily Tomlin (above).  The older lady, older than me that is, seems increasingly unlikely to be labelled as beside the point with the likes of Helen Mirren (72) and Diane Keaton (71) captivating us all.  I think I’ve fallen through a gap though.  Nobody seems to know where to plonk the fifty-several female in popular culture.

One fifty-three year-old reader told me: “What you write needs to be read.”  And what is there for people like us who enjoy contemporary fiction, but can’t stomach any more romantic shopaholic stories which focus on the twenty to thirty-nine year-old’s dilemmas?  I would have thought women in my age group read more than them, but we are even overlooked by studies.  I remember skimming a report on the reading habits of different age groups.  The findings showed American teenagers read books on their phones (if that’s not an oxymoron) and that 30 – 39 year-olds were less likely to be reading electronically.  Those older than 65 weren’t reading much at all by comparison.  Er excuse me – I’m over here in the demographic you ignored with a pile of books, a Kindle and … oh never mind.

Some of us are running marathons and companies.

Little secret: I was asked by therapist and counsellor Lisa Etherson what I thought should be included in her soon-to-be published book about the love lives of the over 50s.  One of my points was that we are are under-represented in popular culture, fuelling the misconception that all grannies are comical, crusty creatures who can’t keep up with the conversation.  I reminded Lisa that when we aren’t having sex, some of us are running marathons and companies.  And then we still might find the energy to run around after our grandchildren.  Just don’t call us grannies!

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If you can recommend any literature (or films) with an interesting, midlife, female protagonist, I’d love to hear about them.  I’ll bet you find it difficult.  Better still, watch this space … I’m writing one myself.

In the meantime why not have a look at the Shreddies nanas doing what nanas apparently do best. Notice the strings of pearls and cardigans.

 

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