Taking the Smooth with the Rough

Today was one of those days you’re not unhappy to see end. No tragedies, just unfortunate circumstances that make that night’s sleep a welcome escape. The plans my young daughter and I had for a girls’ day with our cousins who live an hour’s drive away were scratched when my car overheated 20 minutes into the drive. My car had to be temporarily abandoned and a friend came to rescue us and bring us back home.

Today is Saturday. This unfortunate event means all weekend plans are negated – and I actually had plans all weekend, too. Adult ones, even, because my daughter is sleeping over a friend’s house tonight. Here I am, showered, shaved, having a great hair day – even wearing what (for me) could be called a cute outfit (as opposed to the way I normally leave the house: lawfully covered) – and I am stuck.

The drive to my cousin’s house was well-planned and supposed to be part of the day’s fun because it was sort of a ‘maiden voyage’ road trip. My daughter is 12 and only this year old enough and big enough to be sitting in the front seat; we had the tunes ready, we hit the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru, and we had the top down on the car. It was 82° when we left. One of our first real spring days here in New England. It will be 30° cooler by tomorrow. We might have another spring day some time during the week (you know, while we are all working). We hope.

Obviously, that little milestone will have to wait. Hopefully, my car can be fixed without too much pain and discomfort and we can try again another time.

There was another little milestone that she crossed today. Because I am me, this is a milestone that I cannot let be overshadowed by the day’s frustration: she shaved today for the first time. While I whined about my car on Facebook, I could not make a public post about this subject – but I can blog about it, because she doesn’t read these!

She’s a weird little kid. Good weird, but weird. If I had told her last year that she could sit in the front seat of the car she would have refused because she knew she did not meet the age and weight requirements. She’s kind of a stickler for those rule things. Don’t know where she gets that from.

But to me, this is a milestone for her because it was a milestone for me. I won’t get into my feelings about shaving in general (but if you want to read that particular bitch, click here), but it was a big deal for me. I remember begging my mother to let me shave my legs in 6th and 7th grade, but she kept telling me I was too young. I tried to explain that shaving had nothing to do with age and everything to do with hair – and Eddie. He was a year older than me and he tormented me for those two years on the school bus, calling me “Hairy Mary.” She finally let me start just in time for 8th grade – and after Eddie moved on to high school. She wouldn’t let me use a blade, either; I had to use an electric razor because she felt it was safer.

I understood my mother wanting me to wait, because shaving is a lifetime commitment once you start. I was actually hoping the hipsters would decide that shaving was too mainstream and take a more European approach before the subject came up for my daughter so that she would not have to take on this aggravating female burden (we have enough). But that didn’t happen.

She asked to start shaving. I let her. And, I let her use a real razor. (6th grade, Mom.)  I found out during our discussion that she had ‘already done her research’ and watched a few YouTube videos that a few girls had made regarding certain events that come up in a girl’s life. Research. Funny kid. With everything I’ve said on the subject already, she probably wanted to make sure she didn’t go through anything I did.  

And in her usual, quiet way (nothing like me), she took care of business by herself – outside of a few small questions – like it was no big deal. Even after she was done she had little to say about it. Hell, I remember staring at my legs for hours after I shaved for the first time, amazed at the transformation and giddy with it.

She did say one thing, somewhat boastfully, about not injuring herself – but that’s because she has YouTube, and me, and she didn’t have an older cousin who handed her a blade without telling her she needed to use soap and water with it.

I have high hopes for her now. She should not be scarred for life like I am.

She didn’t have Eddie. Or cousin Kimmy.

What Not To Wear

How a person dresses – at any age – is and should always be a matter of personal choice. When we are comfortable or are happy in (or even enjoy) what we are wearing, we perform at our best. The problem is, we are told that fashion is not a matter of personal choice, but of age and public opinion, and the only exceptions to these rules of age-appropriateness and dress-code deviance are specific highly acclaimed artists and celebrities. People who toe outside of the accepted boundaries of FASHION are insulted, publicly shamed (“Worst-dressed List,” anyone?), and mocked (“Are you going to WalMart?”).

What is FASHION? Fashion is defined as a noun in two ways:

  • A popular trend, especially in styles of dress and ornamentation.
  • A manner of behavior or doing something.

Fashion is also defined as a verb:

  • Make into a particular or required form.

There is a bit of irony in the definitions of the word, if you think about it:

Acceptable FASHION (n.) is only considered to be after one has been FASHIONED (v.).

What happened to “Express yourself” or “Be YOU”?

Eddie Izzard summed it up nicely when his mode of dress was questioned:

“They’re not women’s clothes. They’re my clothes. I bought them.”

We are not supposed to be fashioned into being anything other than who we are. Keep in mind, too, that those acclaimed celebrities were not accepted for their non-conformity until it became recognized that they weren’t going to change; eventually, it became expected of them – thus allowed and accepted.

Wear what makes you happy. Be you, inside and outside.

That being said, there are a few suggestions about things that shouldn’t be worn, however these guidelines are somewhat situational and fall more under the category of personal safety.

What Not to Wear

Too-tight clothing: Clothing that interferes with your breathing is not good, because breathing is necessary for a lot of things.

Stiletto heels: There’s a time and place for high heels, even when you’re not standing on them; however, they should never be worn:

  • When swimming, jogging, or skiing.
  • In the snow; they don’t have a lot of traction and you could slip and fall.
  • While riding a bike or motorcycle – unless you are the token sexy prop in a commercial for some pricey male cologne or, of course, Viagra.

“Mom Jeans”: I hate to break it to you, ladies, you’ve been wearing Mom Jeans since you gave birth. If the jeans are hers, and she is a Mom, her jeans are Mom Jeans. Transitive Property. Do the math.

Miniskirts: These should never be worn when walking a tightrope or climbing a ladder, because others will be able to see your underwear. It’s probably not a good idea to wear them out in the snow either, because it’s cold.

Short-shorts: Like miniskirts, these should not be worn out in the snow, either; they are made for warmer weather. Be careful on slides. Hot slides can burn – especially those old metal ones.

Tops that expose a lot of cleavage: These should not be worn to a wedding; remember it is unfair for the girls (any of ‘the girls’) to upstage the bride. It might also be considered a little disrespectful to wear them to a funeral (unless, of course, it’s your funeral).

Long, dangly earrings:  These can be dangerous if worn during sports or on rollercoasters – one could chip a tooth or poke an eye out.

Flip-flops: See Stiletto heels. For the same reasons (although these are not meant for advertising to the male demographic). But please, please, don’t wear socks with them. That’s just wrong.

Bright nail polish: If you wash dishes without gloves, or your hands are in and out of water a lot, bright nail polish isn’t a good idea; this type of activity will cause the nail polish to chip faster, and bright colors show off chips more obviously than the blander colors.

Sleeveless tops and dresses: If you have a sunburn on your arms and shoulders, you should not wear anything sleeveless if you are going back outside. Keep them covered until the sun goes down.

Belly button rings: These may only pose a problem if you work a job with high-level security or spend a lot of time at airports, as some of the metal in certain jewelry pieces may set off alarms in metal detectors. Do you want to spend the extra time removing your belly ring while taking off your shoes, taking your laptop out of your bag, and emptying your pockets?

Laws of fashion are not Universal Law. Ignoring them will not cause you any harm like, say, ignoring the Law of Gravity might.

 

See also When Will I Be Old Enough to Wear Purple?

The 40-Something Woman: The Lost Demographic

This past week I’ve had the opportunity to actually watch some television in real time.

Big mistake.

Commercials are targeted to the largest demographic watching television during that time slot. I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but there is a bit of a gap in the advertising. Those of us in our mid-to late 40s are conspicuously absent from most commercials, unless we are used as props for the older or younger target audiences. We are a lost demographic.

Not that that’s a bad thing. TV ads are damaging; I’m being shown that I’m doing middle age wrong – and that I’m middle-aged. Maybe. I’m not sure. I do know that I’m not insured enough for my family to know that I care for them.

As far as the commercials go, you’re either a successful woman in your 30s or you are over 50. Maybe there will be an occasional commercial for skin cream featuring a model or celebrity in her 40s, but she is never older than 43 (and we know this because they tell us).

What about the rest of us? What about those of us in our forties? What about those of us not quite old enough for AARP? Those of us who have plenty of gray hair, but not enough to go fully, fashionably, and 50-something gray? And am I going to have to cut my long hair in two years when I turn 50?

(Fortunately, in between commercials there is the occasional television show that portrays us as oversexed, man-eating cougars.)

(Oversexed? I wish.)

Advertisers don’t seem to know what to do with us. In one 30-second spot we are told to fight our age, and in the next we are told to embrace it. Hey, advertisers: stop trying to make us choose sides.  How the hell are we supposed to know what to do if you don’t? Not all of us are married, work full-time, or … have grandchildren (shudder).

(Note to my older daughter: don’t even think about it. Right now I still think I’m young enough to have a life, and I’m not babysitting.)

Many of us have both college-aged or older children and children under 18 – but not necessarily infants or toddlers.

You advertisers don’t know what to do with us, do you? But you definitely give us something to look forward to, don’t you? We will either be constipated all the time, or spend our lives looking for bathrooms. We are going to get shingles, since we already have the virus in us because we had chicken pox as children. Our joints will stiffen up and we won’t be able to move around. When we reach 50, us single gals can join the old-people dating sites to meet a man – but we will be lucky enough if his joints … stiffen up (that is, if his heart can handle it).

(I’m assuming the sultry woman on the Viagra commercials is there as a pre-screening for men? – I’ll point out that she is our age, but that is only because they needed a woman younger than their target demographic. Because … guys.)

Should we be thanking you for Mr. Trivago and Mr. Maytag?

How the hell are all the old people in your commercials smiling? What drugs are you giving them? Certainly not the ones you are advertising. Those have more side effects than Imelda Marcos has shoes. (← Deliberate age reference.)

How about you advertisers mix it up a bit, and stop assuming we are all the same? Show single and married women hanging out together, wearing different styles and sporting different hair lengths. Show us the fun we can have with all of our kids at the same time, accounting for the age range.

Give us something to look forward to.

Show us how to get wine stains out of shirts, rugs, and sheets. Give us a car commercial showing us driving a younger child to school and an older one to a job – and then going off to do something that is actually fulfilling, rather than just going home to prepare the family meal?

How about battery commercials for what we actually use batteries for?

We are not all ‘leaking.’ We are not having a happy period – although, I would love to see a Happy Period commercial for the woman who has realized she is NOT pregnant; that is the only happy period.

I won’t hold my breath and wait for any of this, though. I will just thank the Technology Gods and DVR anything I want to watch on TV, fast forwarding through the commercials, and avoid ‘suggestions’ from advertisers. Even when I turn 50.