The Wardrobe of a Middle Aged Woman


In the brilliant Postcards from the Edge, written by the talented Carrie Fisher, there is a scene where Shirley McLaine claims to be middle aged.  “Oh yeah”, scoffs Meryl Streep who is playing her daughter.  “How many 120 year old women do you know?”  This scene has been playing in my head a lot lately as I have to admit that at age 44, I have reached middle age.  Big sigh.  I’ve never really had a problem with getting older.  I feel that with each year that I’m still here, that’s a bonus.  But I find negotiating the peaks and crevices (and I’m not just talking about my face – boom-tish!) of getting older to be somewhat precarious.  Especially when it comes to dressing.

I have a tween and a teen and I don’t want to be like be like Demi Moore, spotted out and about with her teenaged daughter wearing exactly the same outfit.  Fitted pencil dress, impossibly high platform stillettos and straighty straight straight hair.  Shudder.  Although obviously I would like to be as thin and rich as Ms Moore, just without all the issues which go with.  Basically I just want to look as I still feel.  Vibrant, outgoing, life loving and ready for at least another lifetime if not more.

But sometimes I get tired.  And there’s a mortgage to pay and apparently, the bank doesn’t look too kindly on skipping payments in order to fund an ongoing botox regime.  Also, a lot of the time I can’t be bothered going for a run and during these long winter months, carbs seem to be more friendly than any other food option.  So you can imagine, what I see in the mirror doesn’t quite reflect what I see in my minds eye.  So I’ve started to wear the same sort of thing to work each day.  A lot of this is black, I cannot tell a lie.  And I feel like I jazz it up (my mother’s phrase) with a well placed scarf.  I have rather a few, really gorgeous scarves of varying shades and patterns so I just throw them about my neck, whack on a pair of fabulous earrings then away I go.

But the other day I noticed something.  I am not the only 40 something who does this.

Recently, when in a meeting and consumed with boredom, I took the chance to indulge myself in a bit of people watching amongst the others in the room.  It’s harder to do this in a meeting space because often, other equally bored people are doing the same and you can get caught.  But it’s a small price to pay.

I took stock of the fact that everyone in the room was a woman and the majority were women of about 40 and above, myself included.  And EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM HAD A SCARF ON!  Varying colours, embellishments, lengths etc but it was clear to me that each and every one of them had put their outfits on that morning (all beige or all black) and then finished it with a scarf.

IS THIS THE WARDROBE OF EVERY MIDDLE AGED WOMAN?? Sorry.  I realize I am shouting but here I was thinking I was being a bit creative, but apparently, this is just a part of being middle aged.

What am I going to do?  Do I stop wearing scarves?  Do I take out a loan and completely re-stock my wardrobe?  Do I dye my hair platinum blonde in an effort to stand out amongst the sea of varying shades of “home colour kit” brunettes* to “can’t be arsed to dye it” greys?  Or do I snap the hell out of it and remind myself that I am a role model to my two young daughters and there are more important things to be focusing on than the fact that I look (and dress) my age?


*I fall into this category.. partial to “Iced Chocolate”..


There’s Always One..


A decent proportion of my job entails going to various workshops, conferences, forums and so on.  I variously suffer through willing myself not to nod off to being actively engaged and not wanting it to end.  The people I encounter are usually big on social justice so we are fairly like minded and mostly I find meeting these new people interesting.

But as sure as there will be a small dish of Mentos on every table, there is always one person in the audience who tries to take the lead in these events.  Always one (sometimes more, depending on the size of the event) who has to try and focus on their own agenda or who thinks they know more than the presenter or who is just big pain in the backside.

Today was no different.  Off I went to yet another local club (sometimes RSL, sometimes Diggers – I think these mean the same thing).  I headed into the conference room and took my place.  For reasons which I can’t explain, the attendees at this forum were an unfriendly lot but there was coffee so I found myself in a forgiving mood.  Not for long.

I sat through a spectacularly dull presentation, deeply statistical and boring as batshit.  The presenter read from a bunch of papers which were exact copies of the information laden and soporific powerpoint slides that were showing.  When the second presenter got up and started discussing data and how this could be used in our industry, one woman got up on her high horse and that was the end of the structured presentation.  Now, a skilled facilitator can reign these pains in the posterior in with a well-worded rebuttal so things can swiftly move forward.  Alas, this mornings presenter possessed no such skill.  The woman in question, the “one” if you will, banged on and on and on about things which both could not be impacted upon and could not be changed in this forum and yet she went for it anyway.  I slid down in my chair and prayed for mercy.

Finally we broke for morning tea and I was briefly soothed by coffee and a piece of cake with a pleasant, although unidentifiable flavour.  The minute we got back she started in again, brought a few cronies along with her for the ride and the entire timetable got blown out by an hour.  At 12.25pm the facilitator announced we would be stopping for lunch in five minutes time.  This seemed to spur the “one” on and it was another 30 minutes before we finally ground to a halt.

Popping Mentos at a rate of knots just to stop myself shouting “Oh for Christ’s sake will you be quiet!”, the whole experience was really rather painful.

There should be some sort of “one strike and you’re out” situation where anyone who goes on for too long, or who purports to be cleverer than everyone else in the room is red carded and escorted from the premises.  It certainly would make for a more time efficient and pleasant experience for everyone.  Well me anyway…



Like the vast majority of the population, I hate going to the dentist.  Hate it, hate it, hate it.  My mother, ever diligent, regularly took us to the dentist throughout our childhoods and I dreaded it every time.  Because as I was lowered backwards in the chair, by a man whose questionable breath was a testament to his own lack of dental hygiene, I always knew what was coming.  He would poke around in my mouth with one of those awful pointy tools and inevitably call out at least one filling which needed to be done.  I cried every time.

You would have thought that regular dentist visits would mitigate the need for ever more fillings but it seems that genetics, a lack of fluoride in the water and yes, I’ll say it, my fairly strong attraction to sweet, sweet sugar has meant that whatever dentist I happen to be going to, can be well assured of being able to cover the first class fare for a European holiday that year.

After I left home I avoided the dentist for a long time.  It felt like freedom.  Until of course, that awful tooth aching feeling emerged and I knew I had no choice but to go.  Nightmare.  When I scraped up enough money to travel to England in my early 20’s, I used the local dental hospitals when things got too painful and when I landed a temp job which had a dental plan attached to it, I used that for a while too because it only cost me 25 quid a visit and the dentist didn’t scrimp on the lidocaine.  I digress but has anyone ever said an injection didn’t hurt because of that useless numbing gel they put on your gum first?  I highly doubt it.

Anyway, last week I bit into something and felt one of my back teeth wobble.  After gingerly feeling around with my tongue I realized one of my older fillings had broken.  That sinking feeling took over and with heavy heart, I set off to the dentist on Saturday.   I wasn’t feeling well and was hoping it would be quick patch up job but alas, it was not to be.  The dentist said it was a big filling, would have to be replaced and oh, she had some new extra strength numbing juice and did I want that?  Yes please said I.  So she proceeded to insert a very long needle into the softest part of the back of my mouth.  It didn’t “sting a bit”, it really hurt.  Then a seering pain erupted in my ear.  Tears streamed down my cheeks and I felt like an idiot (I’m supposed to be a grown up for heaven’s sake).  An idiot in pain but an idiot nonetheless.

The procedure took an hour, I had to have four injections into my gum plus additional injections directly into my inflamed tooth because the bastard nerve was exposed and I have a very low threshold for pain.  I can admit this., I see no heroics in putting up with pain.  I had epidurals when my labour pain got too bad but I can honestly say I would rather give birth to 10 pound triplets with no pain relief than to have an exposed nerve in my tooth even slightly touched.  Oh my god.

When I finally shuffled out, mouth swollen to Jolie size, I was hit with a whopping $300 fee.  Thankfully I have dental cover and this meant I only paid about half of that.  Which is still equivalent to my weekly grocery bill.  And this got me thinking, yet again of the appalling state of dental cover in this country.  The so-called lucky country where we should have a system where an essential service is accessible to all but where people wrench their own rotting teeth from their heads with pliers because they can’t afford to pay for treatment and the waiting lists at public dentists go on for years.  I am lucky.  Yes it was a huge chunk of my weekly budget and no I can’t afford to get anything else done for a month or two.  But at least I can both pay my health insurance premiums and cover the gap so that I am not writhing in pain for the next however long, chewing through pain killers which will eventually send me into kidney failure.

In this election year, I really hope something is done to make dental care accessible to all.  So that people don’t have to put up with excruciating pain and so that a person’s socio-economic status can’t be judged by decay in their mouth.  Surely, in a country as rich as Australia, being able to afford a trip to the dentist is a basic human right.


Something to chew on…