The ugly truth in beauty magazines

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10 things every woman should know

stretchmarks1. Everyone has rolls when they bend over.

2. When someone tells you that you’re beautiful, believe them. They aren’t lying.

3. Sometimes we all wake up with breath that could kill a goat.

4. For every woman unhappy with her stretch marks is another woman who wishes she had them.

5. You should definitely have more confidence. And if you saw yourself the way others see you, you would.

6. Don’t look for a man to save you. Be able to save yourself.

7. It’s okay to not love every part of your body….but you should.

8. We all have that one friend who seems to have it all together. That woman with the seemingly perfect life. Well, you might be that woman to someone else.

9. You should be a priority. Not an option, a last resort, or a backup plan.

10. You’re a woman. That alone makes you pretty damn remarkable.

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The eyebrows have it

eyebrows3There’s only one part of my body that I don’t want to be any thinner.

My eyebrows.

These bits of hair that sit above eyes are so important. It’s utterly correct when our eyebrows are called the frames of our faces.

For us women, our eyebrows are a hugely significant aspect of our appearance. They are one of the most defining features of our faces, and we pay a lot of attention to them. Keeping them in tip-top shape for me is an essential.

Especially because mine are blonde. So I spend a spend a lot of time and money getting them tinted.

And tattooed. Yep, I’ve taken the plunge. Those suckers sitting above my eyes are now inked baby. It’s kinda cool to finally, in my late 40s, be able to say “yes” when someone asks me if I’ve got a tattoo.

It all started about three or four years ago. I was getting my nails done and I made the most rookiest of rookie errors.

You see, I needed an eyebrow wax and tint. I do this every four weeks. Because they’re blonde, without the tint I resemble an alien with a pronounced forehead and mothership issues. If I don’t get around to having the tint, I am left with no option but to attempt to draw them in myself. This often results in hilarious outcomes, especially if I’m going out at night and am having a warm-up wine. It also doesn’t help that I usually need glasses for looking at things up close.

This also results in me wiping my brow because it’s hot or I’m laughing, and – whoosh – there go my eyebrows, or worse, there goes one of them and I look unbalanced. Which is easy to do when I’ve been drinking but not a look I’d aspire to longer term.

Now my usual plan of action is to attend with a supremely talented Chinese lady who waxes and plucks and tints with enormous concentration. There’s even some alignment thing with her ruler and the side of my nose. Not sure, but she says she does it to make sure they’re exactly even. That makes sense.

But on this particular day, at my nail place, I was desperately short of time, and desperately in need of eyebrow attention. As she’s filing and painting, my nail lady casts a casual wave to the corner of the room and says, “Bec over there can do your eyebrows.”

I said “sure”. And that’s where I went wrong.

Here’s a piece of advice that I really want you to take. So pay attention. Before you get your eyebrows done, take a long, hard look at the eyebrows of the lady who is attending to them, and let your feeling about that look be your decider.

Bec’s eyebrows weyebrows2ere thinner than Nicole Kidman. A fact I didn’t notice until after she’d done the wax and tint and joyfully handed me a mirror so I could admire her handiwork.

Pretty much three-quarters of my eyebrows were gone. Forty years of growing them, and in one heroic strip of wax, they were gone.

Now I also had eyebrows that were thinner than Nicole Kidman.

If this ever happens to you, let me be the first to tell you that your eyebrows never really “grow back”. You think they will – after all, the hair on your legs never stops sprouting, nor does that whisker that feels like a tree stump coming out of your chin.

Not so much with the eyebrows.

I laboured way with the tinting for a while. It failed. I tinted and pencilled and drew and whatever and it didn’t really work.

Of course my supremely talented Chinese lady was mortified. And a bit angry. Take Crayola to a Picasso and then get the artist to clean it up. That sort of thing.

So a year or so ago, I had my eyebrows tattooed. By the supremely talented Chinese lady. I can’t believe people do this for fun. That scratching, picking thing where the pain is so niggling I think I’m going nuts.

Then I’ve got three days of looking like Mal Maninga in his hey-day before I can put any sort of liquid over them and the colour begins to settle down.

But it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Well, no… Marrying Alan was the best thing I’ve ever done. Oh and having Jade. And starting this blog.

Ok, it’s up there in the top ten.

Be kind to your eyebrows girls, because, like your knees, you will miss them if they’re gone.

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Hair crash investigations

cb

I’ve just returned from my hairdresser, $155 and four inches of hair lighter. The $155 I’m ok with, as this includes a colour, a toner, a treatment, a cut and a straighten.

The four inches of hair is another matter. It is a result of a hair crash.

I’ve always embraced long hair. Apart from that short period circa 1981 when I went all Diana-esque – if I couldn’t have a prince, I was sure as shit going to have a princess’s hair – it’s been long, long, long. Like do it up on your head long. Like plait it long.

And it seems that just when I’ve got it looking amazing, I do something brainless to ruin it and then spend the next year or two recouping.

Here’s what I mean.

About 1985, I landed on the brilliant idea of having a “body wave” put through my hair. Think Farrah Fawcett. Lots of lustrous fat curls all sweeping and swooning about.

I instructed my hairdresser as to my wish. Pulled out copies of TV Week to demonstrate. And I walked out of that salon with hair curled as short and tight as the old lady who calls bingo on Tuesdays in the Valley.

I’d noticed he was cutting quite a bit of my hair off. I’d noticed that the rollers he was using were worryingly small. But I had faith. Belief. What a sucker. Turns out that LJ’s Hair Salon in Coorparoo specialises in perms for the lawn bowls set and I got caught up in their pensioner enthral.

I rushed home and washed it and blew it dry and washed it again. I kept it wringing wet for the next 24 hours. But just like a pensioner in the right lane, those curls weren’t moving.

I put my head down and waited for it to grow again.

Which it must have, because when my daughter was born in 1991, there are pictures of me in unattractive hospital gowns with metres of hair all down my back.

Not much went wrong in the 1990s, mainly because I was too busy working full time, raising my girl, paying back a home loan that Paul Keating had set at 17% and getting divorced.

So I was a bit late to join the Jennifer Aniston/Rachel Green hairstyle party. I’d known about it, I’d seen the invitations, but I’d never gone along. I was determined to change that.

So I rang my hairdresser at the time. Groovy lady, ran some uber-cool salon in that antiques precinct in Woolloongabba. Comes complete with Foxtel, champers, ensuite, gay assistant and scalp massages.

I must admit I sprung my visit on her. I committed that heinous offence of ringing in the morning for an afternoon appointment. So I wasn’t surprised when she remorsefully conveyed the news that she was, in fact, already booked (doh!) but if I really wanted to come, her associate Greta could assist.

I said that would be fine.

Not realising the catastrophic mistake I’d made, I arrived for my hair cut confident in the fact that if the lovely Greta is working under the tutelage of my fabulous hairdresser, nothing can go wrong.

So Greta is chatting to me about her adorable son, I’m throwing in appreciative quips and anecdotes about my daughter, her scissors are doing their thing, blonde hair (mine) is scattered across the floor, I’m paying little or no attention – until I glance up from my magazine to see a huge chunk of my long hair fall victim to her sharp scissors. From a place on my head where I had asked for it to please stay long.

It’s pretty hard to get upset at a hairdresser when you’re sitting in a chair with plastic wrapped around you like a straight jacket, and they’re holding sharp scissors, sometimes upwards of three pairs at once.

Instead of a gentle layering around the front of my face, she’s hacked at right angles, creating this harsh stepped layering. It was awful.

I grabbed her wrist, and pleaded with her to stop. “You’re ruining my hair!” I wailed.

“But it’s the Rachel cut,” she countered.

It seems that her version of Rachel was somewhat different to mine. I think the Rachel she was referring to was on work release and lived with her tattoos and rollies in a caravan park down near Eagleby.

I wore my hair up for nine months after that one.

Around 2007, I got myself in trouble again, and this time there was no one to blame but me. My GHD straighteners were less than a year old but were put to good use most days. No more hours of blow drying, no more clumpy “snakey” hair, just a perfect sheet of blonde.

On this particular day, I shooshed a bit of hairspray on the front strands to hold them in place. I examined the end result and wasn’t totally happy as my hair wasn’t as straight as I’d prefer.

Not to worry, I thought, as I fired up my straightener and swiped its paddles over my hair. A sizzling noise, not dissimilar to pork fat being thrown onto a super hot bbq griddle, was emitted. A hideous smell not dissimilar to rancid meat being microwaved was expelled.

I’d burnt my own hair. The chemicals in the hairspray clearly weren’t too happy when the heat was applied and they took it out on my hair. How could I be so dumb!?

It ended with me at the hairdresser in tears, watching my locks fall around me as this poor fellow muttered to himself in Spanish about how silly blonde women shouldn’t be given access to things that required heat. Or electricity.

Which brings me to my recent hairdresser visit. You see, one night a few months ago, it was quite late and I was in my bathroom taking out my hair. That morning, I’d tied it in a high ponytail, looped the tail part over the elastic and then messily pinned it to create one of those chaotic-on-purpose hairstyles.

It had been a long day. I was heading overseas on holidays the following week and there was much to do at work to get things in order. I’d lurched home late, guzzled a glass of wine, reheated a plate of food, and then headed to the bathroom for a shower.

As I was taking my hair out, the elastic band got caught. The more I pulled and tugged the more my hair entwined itself around the offending elastic. Desperate for a shower and sleep, I grabbed some scissors and maleficently chopped at the elastic band.

Without a mirror.

After a glass of wine.

As I snipped, I heard a sound and remember thinking, “this can’t be good.” It wasn’t. I pulled away and in my hand was a good six inches of my hair, and no elastic in sight.

It was, of course, still caught in my hair.

My wailing brought my husband, who cut the elastic for me, after he had finished rolling on the floor in laughter. For better or worse anyone?

The next day I was at the hairdresser, having layers and layers cut all around my hair in an attempt to hide the cruelty of my home haircut, while my hairdresser and all her assistants rolled about on the floor in laughter.

Which brings me to this week, where I can proudly say that my hair has been behaving nicely and growing steadily, and the four inches I lost yesterday brings the layers of my hair closer together.

Once upon a time, I used to get my hair and nails done at the same place. Triple As for convenience in geographical location and efficiency in dialogue. I didn’t have to make separate trips and I didn’t have to give the same updates twice. They could cut, file and listen together.

Until the day dawned, about three years into this mutually festive partnership, that I was no longer thrilled with the quality of my nails. I knew I’d have to find another technician. Which women of the world will understand meant I had to find a new hairdresser as well. I could hardly waltz in there for a haircut and bypass the nail studio. I had to cut all ties (pun intended) and start again.

Here’s hoping I get to the end of this decade without another disaster. My husband has my hairdresser on speed dial, however, just in case.

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My right to bare arms

001Oh shit. Shit shit shit shit shit. It’s nearly summer, hey.

Which is actually ok by me, despite my repetitive profanities.

Now you know I’m not really a winter person. It’s like beach or countryside. Tea or coffee. Country or western. We tend to be either one or the other.

I’m more your summer person. I like to swim, eat outdoors and drink white wine that is almost sub-Arctic in temperature. I like to sleep with the scent of my jasmine vine wafting over me. Gawd that was almost poetic!

My birthday is the 25th of August and people are often perplexed as to why an imminent birthday causes me no grief. It’s because once my birthday is done, there’s literally one week more until winter is over. Literally. Praise to you Lord Summer.

For a brief moment every year, I pause to consider whether I would like to change teams and become pro-winter. Like voting for Clive Palmer. I think that one day I’ll be all nasty and menopausal and wanting to put my head in the freezer. Brisbane summers look like they could be somewhat brutal to menopausal women.

Or when we got back from a few weeks in the UK, where I wore 5-metre long scarves in some ultra-chic Elizabeth Hurley way, and slept under massive goose feather doonas, and drank wee drams of whiskey by the fire… Yes then I think I might like to be a winter person.

That is, until it’s time to go back to work and I’m standing at the train station at 6:45am and it’s freezing. [Read more…]

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Do your boobs hang low?

Sing this with me sisters:

Do your boobs hang low
Do they wobble to-and-fro
Can you tie them in a knot
Can you tie them in a bow
Can you throw them o’er your shoulder
Like a continental soldier
Do your boobs hang low?

Back in the days when jokes were distributed around offices and factories by fax, I remember picking up this gem.

It was a picture of this little old lady at a bus stop, looking at some beefy burly bloke wearing a t-shirt offensively emblazoned with “Show me yer tits”. Next graphic is the little old lady demurely lifting the bottom of her knee-length coat to show two exhausted breasts flopping limply just above her knees. [Read more…]

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Cold Cream play

pondsSo I’m in some nondescript discount warehouse chemist place, in some nondescript suburb on the north of Brisbane. It’s Thursday night about 8pm, and winter as we know it in Brisbane is nearly over.

The reason I knew winter was nearly over was because when my darling husband, who is prone to a spot of Thursday night shopping, suggested that after dinner we should “pop” out to get a “few things”, I changed out of my slippers and into some ballet flats. You see, usually the cold months would see me leave my slippers on; hang the concerned sympathies and random unsolicited offers of dementia medication. [Read more…]

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Wax on, wax off

It’s like any form of female body hair is reviled these days. Viewed with immense disdain. A slight screwing up of the nose and an almost imperceptible shudder. Similar reaction to when I see, say, a dead cockroach on my kitchen floor or that Paris Hilton music video. Or when Lover Bloke asks me to get him another beer from the fridge.

Eeewwwwwwww.

Women have been shaving the hair off their legs for an eternity. Well, actually I don’t know whether it is in fact an eternity, there’s certainly no reference to it in the Bible, but let’s just generalise and say quite a while.

I know there are some women who espouse more liberal views and enjoy a more hirsute look. And that’s about choice. One woman’s Matthew McConaughey is another woman’s Kevin Rudd. Etc.

We shave it off from under our arms. How else can we be expected to grace the beaches, bars and boulevards of south east Queensland in our fabulous Escada singlets and Lorna Jane gear with under arm fuzz. Unthinkable.

The face is an entire stand-alone episode. A postcode if you will. Correct eyebrow shape and definition is a facial must. Ignoring your eyebrows is like ignoring a 75% off all stock sale at Tiffany’s-it’s something that you just don’t do.

Women will shell out $50 without hesitation to get the perfect eyebrow shape. Eyebrow salons now account for over half of this country’s GDP. Sydney eyebrow doyen Sharon-Lee Hamilton is worshipped globally. Even my adored Princess Mary popped into her parlour for a reshape last time she was in the harbour city.

A hairless top lip is also essential. No woman needs to resemble a walrus, even if it is that time of the month. I was holidaying at Coolangatta earlier this year and popped out for a top lip wax, as you do. The beautician was telling me that every three months she actually waxes the entire bottom half of her face. Now that’s commitment.

And so it has come to pass that the area our mothers told us to stay away from, the one we later found out is reserved for bedroom romps and birthing babies, is under scrutiny.

Let’s not beat around the bush. If you’re not sporting a Brazilian you’re no sport at all. And so somehow I ended up in a salon with my knickers on the floor, my legs in the air and my modesty out the window.

My good friend Hot Wax, which to date had spent its time amusing my face had found a new playground. My playground. Mei, this tiny Chinese woman unapologetically splashed the wax around my mound, then had the temerity to not only rip it off, but to show me the offending strip. There’s a few things in my life I’m not interested in seeing and that’s one of them.

Let me tell you about the rip. It goes like this. Turn up the music and let it rrrriiippppppppppp. Apparently it is customary for the waxer to throw your legs over their shoulder or ask you to moon them so they can get the strays. Without even asking me out for a drink first.

The pain was like nothing I have experienced. Well apart from that time I broke my foot and was in plaster for eight weeks. I told everyone that it was dark, the stairs were slippery and the strap on my sandal was a bit loose. The truth is I was pissed off my nut and forgot that walking down stairs involves the careful placement of one foot in front of the other. A simple mistake that anybody could make.

Or the first time I went to a sushi restaurant and thought the wasabi was avocado. And I really love avocado.

The worst part was knowing that the searing pain wasn’t going to happen just once, or, at the worst, twice. The whole rrrriiiiipppppppping process was going to continue, over and over and over, until the dear thing was bald.

I felt comfortable in letting loose with a few expletives because Mei, bless her, didn’t appreciate compound English words. I’m not sure if f*** is a universally interpreted word or whether each dialect has its own derivative, but I didn’t care. I let them rip. Or should I say rrrriiiiipppppppp.

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The pained veil

Last week, it was technically my 24th wedding anniversary. I say technically because I am no longer married. To him or anyone at this point.

I never knew what real happiness was until I got married. And by then it was too late. Granted we had a number of good years. Our attraction to each other was a matter of chemistry, which is why we ended up treating each other like toxic waste.

The definition of my husband? The man who did his best to stand by me through all the troubles I wouldn’t have had if I’d stayed single.

Each year on this anniversary, I have this ritual. First, I try on my wedding dress – not to get all wistful about the day; I use it as a barometer to see if I’ve put any weight on since I was a slip of a girl at 20. I haven’t been able to do the zip up for five years.

I once tried to palm my dress off to Lifeline but even they didn’t want it. Because it was from the 80s. Puffed sleeves, seed pearls, kilometres of tule, huge bow at the back, lace lace lace. Enough said.

The second part of this ritual is I watch the video of my wedding day. Yes, video. As I said, it was the 80s.

I settled onto my couch with a fresh cup of tea and hit play.

My first thought is how fabulously thin everybody was back then. Not just me – my parents, my husband, my friends. If only we’d known. Ah, but those who indulge, bulge.

I could see where the problem started as I watched my celluloid self tucking tinto a mammother helping of Bomba Alaska. Remember when that was all the rage? But it was the 80s. I should have asked for for meringue. To match my dress.

I only had two bridesmaids, which fell far short of the de rigueur 80s number which could often climb as high as eleven. One of them is still speaking to me, which is surprising if you consider the nauseating dress with matching covered shoes that I made them wear. At least I didn’t make them perm their hair, as I had done to mine.

My husband and I were toasted with champagne, served in those wide, flat little glasses favoured in The Sound of Music and Audrey Hepburn movies. No wonder it was hard to get pissed back then; you can only fit a thimbleful in one of them.

In the height of my 20-year-old sophistication I had insisted to the Beverage Manager, my Dad, that the champagne be Asti Riccadonna. Surprisingly you can still buy it now. Goodness knows why; it is the sickliest, sweetest, aerated concoction. The people who run the Queensland licensing regulations need this product brought to their attention immediately in order to have it removed from bottle shop shelves.

 

Are you ready for this? While we were cutting our wedding cake, we forced all our guests to listen to Karen Carpenter warbling on about how we’ve only just begun … to liiiiiiiiivvvvve. Then some rot about white lace and promises and a kiss for luck.

The bridal waltz heralded Anne Murray, perhaps fresh from the Nashville Country Music Festival, asking if we could have this dance for the rest of our lives. In my defence, it’s done in perfect 4-4 time and highly suitable to luddite newly-weds who can’t waltz.

 

I really need to ask Mum to dig out the guest list so I can hand-write apologies to everyone who was there. Or at least the ones who are still living, because I am sure there are some who went out the back and killed themselves when they heard the music and tasted the champagne.

 

Anyway, the day ended and eventually so too did the marriage. He asked me one day if love was the answer and I asked him if he could rephrase the question.

 

 

I fully appreciate why people elope, and why that Little White Chapel in Las Vegas does so well. Nobody is filming what goes on inside.


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Anti-waist matter

Sometimes, when I’m watching re-runs of Kath & Kim, I get a bit nervous. Not because I’ll start referring to my lounge room as “the good room”. Not because of the sight of Kim’s offensive g-string or the atrocious way she speaks to Brett.
It’s Kath’s high waisted jeans that scare the pants off me. They are seriously one of the ugliest fashion fallouts I’ve ever seen. Along with Peter Pan collars, bubble skirts and Whitney Houston.

I fear that high waists will again become a prime target on the fashion radar. That head Vogue-ette Anna Wintour will come back a bit pissed one day from lunch at The Plaza and think, “You know what would be funny? To send out an email to my mates Oscar, Cristóbal, Ralph, Caroline etc saying it’s time to pull their designer pants up.”

The fashion world follows La Wintour’s advice the way the Pope follows Jesus. Religiously. Before we can say “where the bloody hell are you”, Australian shops will boast piles of jeans, all with 25 centimetre long zips. I’m convinced style mavens will also insist we tuck in our tops.

Our shapely bums will be lost on a vast canvas of denim and our tummies, post partum or otherwise, will do that bulging thing making it look like we’re masking a water feature or Roseanne Barr.

I’m the sort of girl who will sit in coffee shops and nudge my girlfriends while surreptitiously casting my eyes in the direction of a passing unfortunate who clearly hasn’t been into Just Jeans since the mid 80s. She’ll be wearing jeans that threaten to snuggle in under her armpits and that rudely stop just above her ankle. Teamed with high heels. Ouch.

We collectively mutter “can you b-e-l-i-e-v-e it?!” and sneak a look at the length of our own hems just to make sure there was no pot calling the hem length black hypocrisy.

Jeans are the cornerstone to most of my ensembles. Have been for years. Born in France and raised in America, denim jeans came of age in Australia when we realised they weren’t the sole proprietary of jackaroos and The Fonz.

Wear them with a fitted white t-shirt and Dunlop Volleys, or a lace top and silver pointy toe stilettos. Wear them to work on a Friday with black ankle boots and a fawn coloured Witchery jersey top.

Just never ever wear them if they’ve got a high waist. I don’t care how fabulous your silver pointy toe stilettos are.

I’ve got my hands on my hips about this one.

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