So there I was swathed in capes and towels contemplating the furrow of lurex threads adorning my part line and wondering when my regrowth touchups went from every three months to every five weeks, when a magazine cover caught my eye.
Beauty At Any Age – Our Annual Ageing Issue.
Well that’s jolly timely, I thought.
I also thought that it’s time I remained loyal to one hairdresser instead of moving on as frequently as The Big Issue vendor outside North Melbourne IGA gets muscled out and replaced by increasingly aggressive magazine sellers.
You know the ones? You courteously decline their whiny imploration to buy the latest copy because, in my case, I have one particular homeless person I freely admit to favouring over the others, and instead of a bit of banter about ‘maybe next time’, you cop an earful of abuse! Whoa, easy, mate.
Where was I? Oh yes, salon disloyalty. I don’t mean to be a hair whore. My intentions are almost always honorable in the beginning, but something inevitably conspires to send me elsewhere.
It all started with Larry who had a salon across the road from my first job.
…cue 80’s soundtrack and spiral perm…
I spent an inordinate amount of time and money regularly altering the colour and style of my drab locks in a fruitless bid to alleviate the stultifying boredom of life as a dental assistant. Encouraged by my capricious approach to hair colour, he talked me into modeling for him at a hair show.
This involved stripping the hair of all pigments, which turned it the colour, and texture of wheat husks. Then he dyed it orange.
Styled in a complicated arrangement of whorls and waves and lacquered to immovability, I was then subjected to the cosmetic ministrations of a make up artist who appeared to take her inspiration from Picasso’s Weeping Woman. My face was daubed in ochreous foundation and iridescent green eyeshadow. It wasn’t my best look.
After the show, Larry, clearly heady from the thrill of competition, and by way of thanking me, went for the inappropriate tongue pash. Given the man was as camp as a row of tents and bore more than a passing resemblance to Leo Sayer, I was neither anticipating nor desirous of this lingual overture.
The next few salons were a random mix of referrals from well coiffed colleagues and saw me sporting a range of celebrity looks – from the Annie Lennox ‘Sweet Dreams’ crop through to Gwyneth Paltrow’s, ‘Sliding Doors’ modified pixie cut. I would move on when the price exceeded the weekly grocery bill and my ex-husband discovered credit card receipts.
There was nothing at all wrong with the last one (and I was inordinately fond of my stylist) except the geographical distance and, ok; it was a tad on the pricey side. But that’s what you get in certain well-heeled suburbs where the clients are all discussing culinary tours of Tuscany and skiing at Whistler. This is also the salon most likely to receive requests for the ‘Thatcher’.
Yes, it’s true, the most requested celebrity hairstyle since Jennifer Anniston’s shag, is an homage to the recently departed Baroness. With the assistance of a tail comb and industrial quantities of Elnett, it’s relatively easy to bash into shape and gives one a look of authority without sacrificing femininity.
I sat there waiting for my stylist, Elvira, ruefully examining evidence of tonsorial aging at yet another new salon in my ‘hood and being quietly mocked by Diane Kruger smiling up from the cover of the magazine, all unlined and glamorous, the Beauty At Any Age banner running across her taut thighs.
Heading straight for the skin care section I discovered now was the time to incorporate retinoic acid, peptides and a good resurfacing elixir – which rather makes me feel like a worn out bathtub. I should also consider incorporating green tea, rosehip oil, sausage tree extract (I know…what???), quince and mangosteen into my beauty regime. To ingest or anoint is not made clear.
Failing to eradicate any rogue frown lines there is always the poor woman’s botox – a fringe. Which brings me back to hair. Elvira and I agree going lighter might assist with camouflage, staving off a fresh chemical onslaught for at least a couple of weeks longer, a tenet corroborated by the authoritative manual I was poring over.
The supplement section validated my current pill popping tendencies. Because many women here are observing the sun smart message and avoiding sunlight like Bella in Breaking Dawn, we take Vitamin D and calcium. This, of course, is because the consequence of teenage summers slathered in baby oil and baking for hours in macramé bikinis while drinking Big Banana M and listening to Cold Chisel, is skin like a crocodile and melanoma.
Finally there was the fashion advice. I have reached the age where I should be brave about this and embrace unconventional shapes – I can’t help wondering, as I note the impossibility of well fitting jeans, if fashion pundits might not be tacitly implying I simply give up and embrace the poncho?
I’ve noted the tendency of your mature woman to up the ante with chunky resin jewellery and theatrically draped pashminas. Bio mum and her conjoined sister follow this trend, sporting matching fringed scarves, outrageous earrings and armfuls of bangles. If Andre Rieu is their celebrity crush, Iris Apfel is their poster girl.
The old edict of less is more seems not to apply to this demographic; it’s as if they are collectively cocking a snoot at society, saying, ‘You think I’m invisible? Think again!’
I leave the salon, heartened by Naomi Wolfe’s article asserting that truly charismatic women have lived long enough to be interesting and that the conventional societal notion of beauty is ephemeral at best.
But far more importantly, my hair looks great.