Clinging to youth by a single strand of hair
You’re in a café looking at a woman with a thick mane of lustrous, golden hair atop a trim torso.
In fact, from the back she looks a lot like Barbie. Then she turns to reveal a face that looks a lot like Barbie too – but at 70, or perhaps when she’s been left in the bottom of the paddling pool for a month, dried in the microwave and then cleaned with steelo.
You have now experienced lock shock.
Tasting something salty when you expected it to be sweet, the hot shower turning cold: it’s not that the experience is so horrible, it’s just the jarring clash between expectation and actuality.
I myself resolved never to dye my hair. And then I got my first grey – springing up from my part like the proverbial bird. As far as a hair goes, it seemed to have a lot of personality - but before the next day dawned I had signed its death warrant.
An acquaintance once complained to me of hair dye as hair heroin. I tittered politely – but at the time I was clean. Now I’ve had a taste, and I’ve got the dealer on speed dial.
However, the global supremacy of the dyed lock is only one symptom of a more general phenomenon – the rage against age.
Once upon a time you had to just watch it all slip away, like a sandcastle to the tide. But now there are options and injections, products and plans, nips and tucks. Science and its simple cousin beauty therapy are fighting back.
As a result, ageing has become a tricky affair to orchestrate. At what point do you just say no, and let go? And if you’ve been saying yes, what do you do as the chasm deepens between what god gave you and your cosmetic identity?
Before you know it, your lips are 30, your hair is 20, your eyelids are 40, but your ass is still 60. If I kiss you, will I get a chronological tasting?
“Young. Old. Just words.“ George Burns said, and good on him. But yesterday in the shops I saw a woman of the sort who spends more on clothing than most would on housing. She was hanging on to the tail end of her sixties, tightly. First, I noticed the perfectly coiffed hair, the Chanel glasses, the fine cut of her tailored suit, and then, beneath her jacket, the lace body suit. The obvious retort here is that there is no right age for a lace body suit - but you get my point.
Fashion no longer knows boundaries when it comes to age. It welcomes every soldier prepared to walk to the beat of its drum. But perhaps there’s a point when it’s not becoming to be in a marching band.
I accept that I should probably be starting to move my attention at least some way beyond the physical on the path to enlightenment. And that if I could do so, this question of ageing wouldn’t preoccupy me so. But I’m still drinking shots with obscene names on a Saturday night, so I’m not counting on my visa to transcendence arriving anytime soon.
For now, I’ll just buy some more skinny jeans, keep it heavy on the highlights and redraw for a tub of anti-ageing algae, for I fear I will not go gentle into good old age.
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