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Caragh Little


Curl Up And Dye?

Posted: 11/24/2012 4:35 pm

Every so often, these days, it's time to get the grey hairs blitzed. For a few weeks, then, I feel young again: or at least, I look younger, because in my head I still haven't grown up. I think I've stalled somewhere around the end of my twenties... possibly because that's when I made a number of those scary life-changing decisions which tend to define us as proper grown-ups. But with life-changing decisions come responsibility, and worry, and grey hairs and wrinkles and all those other things we all swore would never happen to us. And then it's time for the evasive action: the brushes and the plastic shoulder-shields come out, the hairdresser puts on a serious face and some rubber gloves and gets to work, and suddenly it takes half a morning of small talk and trashy magazines, not just half an hour. It's exhausting.

But is this really it? Middle age, when I was growing up, was a pretty clear thing. It was people's mums and dads... the boring old teachers at school... all those everyday anonymous adults who, as I informed my parents confidently, had been born in the middle ages. I've reached some birthdays which conferred this definition in my childish mind, but am planning to remain in complete denial about it until retirement at least. I refuse to dress my age. So many high street shops have their target customer clearly in mind almost as obviously as the age labels on children's clothes. Top Shop and River Island are not for the likes of me. Next: probably; Oasis: just about, unless I put on lots of weight. Marks & Spencer is funniest of all: Limited Collection for the young fashionista, Autograph for her sensible older sister, Per Una for her rather more robustly built cousin, Indigo for the trendy aunt and Classic for her, well, rather 'classic' mum. Sometimes it's fun to confuse the assistant and buy across the ranges a bit, and imply a kind of style schizophrenia...

And then there's music. Because I'm getting on just ever so slightly, the teenagers of my acquaintance tend to assume I'll listen to awful music... Daniel O'Donnell, perhaps, or Cliff Richard, or the kind of thing you hear on Classic Gold radio. The kind of stuff that was in the charts away back, when dinosaurs roamed and I was young. Okay, granted I don't listen to the extremes- dance music gives me an unpleasant heart arrhythmia, while the intricacies of metal just leave me with a sore head and a feeling of mild disorientation. But what's on my iPod or in my CD collection does intersect with what's listened to by those much younger than myself.

And I could go on. The books we read, the newspapers, the magazines... I don't read The Oldie, yet, but I have graduated from Just 17 (at 14), through 19 (at 17), Cosmopolitan (at university), Glamour (early 20s), to the inevitability of things like Red. You can spot the intended audience by the free gifts on the cover: these days it's things like hand-cream or a sample of an anti-ageing potion. Ahead lie the terrors of Good Housekeeping with its gardening gloves and recipes and knitting patterns. Then I really will be scared. It brings to mind that Jenny Joseph poem about intending to 'wear purple' and behave rebelliously when she becomes 'an old woman'. I already wear purple. I remember being told off in primary school when we had to write the 'favourite colour' poem and I didn't choose red or yellow or blue like everybody else. I picked purple, and got into trouble, because it was hard to rhyme, and associated with miserable things rather than the nice, happy issues of the nice, happy primary colours of the nice, happy world of primary school. Perhaps I was refusing to 'act my age' back then too. Perhaps there's logic behind having had an atypical obsession, at 13 or 14, with listening to the radio with the lights off when everybody in my class was watching Dallas. Perhaps just as we shouldn't let ourselves be defined by our gender or our ethnic origin or our religious beliefs or affiliations, the school we went to or the clothes we wear, we shouldn't for a second accept definition by age.

All the same. This weekend, it was time to get those grey hairs seen to again... to add a bit of gloss and shine and make myself feel better. It's 2012. Almost 2013. I'm older than I could ever imagine being when all my classmates were watching Dallas long ago... and now Dallas is back, and I'm still determined to feel young.

The greys have gone. JR is dead, for real. The plots have changed. The story stays the same...

Also on HuffPost UK Lifestyle

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  • #1 Clothes That Are Too Loose And Baggy

    In an attempt to hide or cover up our bodies, especially if we've packed on a few post-menopausal pounds, we end up looking heavier. No matter what our size, a woman over 50 should have the right fit--not tight, but a fit that defines the waist. Best way to do that? Make a great tailor your new best friend.

  • #2 Trying To Dress 'Young' Instead Of 'Great'

    We live in a world that's constantly shouting in our ears, "Young is better!" ... but don't listen! We've earned every crow's foot we have, and buying into that nonsense is the perfect recipe for a fashion fail. In Barbara Hannah Grufferman's book, "The Best of Everything After 50," she interviewed Diane von Furstenberg, who said the key to looking great is to be comfortable. If you're tugging at your too-short skirt you'll be more focused on covering your thighs than on what you should be engaged in. There are no style rules, but there are definite guidelines, the most important one being this: Just because you're over 50 doesn't mean you have dress like a frump. Update your wardrobe with a few essential basics and build from there.

  • #3 Wearing The Wrong Bra

    The majority of American women wear the wrong bra size, and it shows. We just don't take the time to get properly fitted by an expert. The right bra can make all the difference in how your clothes fit, and how you look in them. Make sure to get a few different ones for specific clothes, including one specifically for wearing under a t-shirt or other smooth shirts, and buy them in colors that are close to your own skin color for wearing under white or light-colored tops.

  • #4 Not Starting A Retinol Product Soon Enough

    There are no magic amulets for reversing skin damage, but products such as Retin-A are as close as you can get. They work to exfoliate the skin while you sleep, and help build collagen. (Using a retinol product on the skin makes it even more sensitive to the sun, so a product with an SPF of at least 40 is essential).

  • #5 Applying Too Much Makeup In An Attempt To 'Cover Up'

    Women over 50 often try to cover everything up by applying too much concealer, foundation, blush, everything. Foundation should be applied very sparingly, and only then will you be able to see if concealer is even necessary. Keep it light, with pinkish tones for the lips, and rosy for the cheeks. Try a waterproof eyeliner and very lightly follow the last line, top and bottom. A lighter touch is key to a fresh, pretty face.

  • #6 Going With 'Single Process' To Cover The Gray

    Using the single process approach to covering gray can create a single block of color, very often either too light or too dark, without any contrast. This can drain the face and be aging. Consider highlights along with your natural color (including the gray), or mixing highlights with the single process.

  • #7 Still Trying To 'Diet' To Lose Weight

    Diets don't work. Eating, and eating often, does. Diets that focus on a specific category of food (protein, for example) aren't sustainable. Eating small meals consisting of whole grains, lean proteins, dark leafy greens and lots of water go a long way in keeping hunger at bay, and the pounds off.


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