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Reflections November 2016

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Strip Mall Makeover

By Anne Ashley

Where was I? Oh yes, lash extensions, hair extensions, hair removal, dermabrasion treatments, lip fillers, teeth whitening, décolletage firming, bust firming (our laughter became guffaws at the prospect of our busts being manipulated by strangers particularly when Doris admitted that she hadn’t seen that much action in years).

In the olden days, we women relied on home remedies, stealth maneuvering when going for salon treatments, and sharp perception when choosing a beautician that would keep our secrets ‘til death do us part!  Referrals to “my guy or gal” was shared in whispered tones and never ever gossiped about – if you valued your friendship.

In fact, in my day, from mud packs to rehab, a woman kept her rigorous routines a closely held secret, threatening pain of death for the beautician or therapist that blabbed about what the client was having done.

My grandmother regularly colored her hair a distinct black but denied ‘til her dying day (pun intended) that she was just lucky to retain her hair color of youth – despite her roots giving the game away every three weeks or so! 

Anyway, I make this observation because it strikes me that today there’s a brazen openness about what a woman (and a growing number of men) have done to beautify themselves or the therapy they undergo – as though it’s some sort of rite of passage.

I recently went to a strip mall with a friend where we marveled at all the treatments we could suffer in one square mile of boutiques, shops and kiosks – hair dye, eyebrow shaping. (Now, call me an old stuffed shirt but I’ve never plucked my eyebrows where anyone could see me. I bolt the bathroom door as though I was decoding war secrets in there to perform the task of pruning and shaping, such is my need for privacy. So the thought of letting some technician do it in the middle of a mall while all and sundry walks by, fills me with utter mortification) …

Where was I? Oh yes, lash extensions, hair extensions, hair removal, dermabrasion treatments, lip fillers, teeth whitening, décolletage firming, bust firming (our laughter became guffaws at the prospect of our busts being manipulated by strangers particularly when Doris admitted that she hadn’t seen that much action in years), French manicures, pedicures, mud wraps, skin toning, spray tanning, “envious” massages, leg waxing, bikini waxing, tea leaf reading, palm reading and reflexology – whatever that is – and this wasn’t even the entire list of things we could have improved or removed. We just gave up counting!

Although, we did contemplate the scenario of turning up at the mall in our typical condition – loose jogging bottoms, t-shirts and flip flops, happy-go-lucky except for the nagging and constant feeling that I’ve forgotten to do something – and exiting hours later looking like Marilyn Monroe and feeling as though we could take on the world! Well, OK, perhaps not quite Marilyn or the world, per se, but pretty damned close. Until we sneezed, that is and then practically everything we’d had nipped and tucked would have been for naught in a split second.

What’s more, I’m not convinced that these treatments actually result in the transformation we’re guaranteed. I understand the lure of manicures and pedicures. I can even agree that a good hair coloring can take years off your appearance (so long as you don’t opt for hair so blond it ends up the color of hay or so dark that you resemble a Halloween witch)! But the rest of all that tinkering and titillating is just toying with nature.

And you don’t even want to get me started on Botox treatments that result in expressions so frozen the recipient couldn’t sport a frown if you put a gun to their head. I mean, what’s wrong with a good expressional frown? A frown is what my long-suffering husband refers to as the first warning before I launch into a verbal account of my displeasure … at length.

Trust me, he needs me to be able to frown. It’s how he knows when to apologize for something, anything, even if he doesn’t know what he’s apologizing for. If he manages to insert the “I’m sorry” at the first sign of a furrowed brow, he saves himself hours of listening to me complain. It would be too cruel to take that away from him all for the sake of a youthful forehead! 

As for my crow’s feet, laugh lines, whatever, Doris and I gave ours a thorough workout that day. From imagining being felt up by strangers to keeping a straight face while we chose what shade of white we’d like our front teeth (presumably to go with our new skin tone) to be, we laughed ‘til we cried at the absurd conversations these treatments must instigate.  

All was not lost though. Once we regained our composure, we proceeded across the street to the nearest bar and drank to being happy, imperfect, unfondled old broads!   

 

Be sure to follow me on twitter@anneashley57.

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