...And After

I counted; there are no less than 24 bottles of hair care product in my WC. And yet I somehow manage--daily, consistently, without fail--to look like a Before picture.


"Are you 40 yet?" the woman asked.
"My friends and I call the 40s the effit years."
"The what?"
"The effit years. You know, 'Eff it, I'm wearing what I want,' or, 'Eff it--I want to eat that.'"

Fair enough. Except it's only been in my late 30s, early 40s, that I've paid any attention to what I wear or eat. Just last month I figured out that if I wear these undies with those pants, an unsightly pantyline will ensue. If I eat that, I'll walk around with it between my teeth unless I brush. Yesterday, for example, I drank a protein shake during a staff meeting, and a seed took up permanent residence between my front teeth. But at least I knew it.

So the effit years, not so much. It's more like the "ohshit" decade...there aren't enough years left.

In her essay Fighting Time, champion Australian boxer Mischa Merz writes about older female boxers she's met:
What an extraordinary way to play out the narrative of female ageing in this society. The standard options are to sink into a torpor over what you have lost, lamenting some illusory power that came with your attractiveness to men. Or else you can reclaim that lost allure with plastic surgery and turn yourself into a Cougar. Or just vanish. Become a soccer mom and retreat to the sidelines.

What defiance, then, to transgress the conventions of both gender and age and remake yourself as a warrior, demanding attention and standing alone. Here was a group of women heading in a new direction entirely, finding means of exerting power and expressing themselves that seemed to be more sustaining than whatever might be gained from the ability to make men drool. In the era of the middle-age sexual predator, the ‘glam-ma’ now were some genuinely courageous individuals who, as women, didn’t want to go over the same old ground, didn’t want to bat eyelash extensions at busboys or buy enhanced cleavage.

Although I've recently chosen this warrior's way, I still do some lamenting over what's lost; it's not such the bad thing Merz makes it out to be, as would wanting a body worth its weight in drool. She's right--the path is unconventional for women my age, but I'd like to think this is not a separate path; rather, the fight is part of a larger battle on all fronts, instead. For me, it's not an either/or situation--I box because I've given up my looks, or I'm going to work on my looks and not risk a broken nose. It's "Eff it--I'm doing what I want" with a touch of "What I want is good for me." The confidence and athletic prowess gained from boxing can produce an attractiveness the Cougars can't buy.

So I'll continue to spend about five total minutes on my hair each morning, and slowly work my way through those 24 bottles. But if none of them helps me step out of the Before photo, I might just buy some more.


  1. I *finally* stopping buying hair products after I found the right hair products. They weren't invented until last year, so you are to be forgiven for your 24 bottles. Maybe you have the same kind of hair I do? If so, you need four products: a decent shampoo, deep conditioner by Phyto (it's a brand), Moroccan Oil for curly hair (apply to towel dried hair, and scrunch your hair a little. Then, when it's dry later in the morning? apply quarter size amount of Bumble and Bumble Brilliantine, then re-scrunch. ta-da!

    Also? Don't wash you hair with shampoo every day. Every third day. The other two, shower as usual, and rub your scalp *as if* you are shampooing, but your not. Rinse.

    Also? Get a water filter for your shower. $25 bucks, makes my 40ish hair feel like a baby's.

    Also? feel free to ignore ALL ADVICE ABOUT HAIR!

  2. Funny, I had bought Moroccan Oil and was sure it was the answer to all my problems for about 2 minutes, at which point my sensitivities to fragrance kicked in, and I got sick. Unbelievable. Seems like a great product, though, and I'm making note of your other suggestions.

    The day I wrote this post, my hair, ironically, was perfect--then I walked out into the rain.

  3. Why is it so incredibly difficult for me to capture the essence of why I box? I'm somewhat aware of making myself into a warrior (and I also want to be drooled over -- these things are not mutually exclusive), but I think my reasons also have to do with not being willing to take care of everyone else all the time anymore. I was raised to care for others, very nearly to be a doormat. I think I did that for a while, but I've quit, thank God. Now I punch the shit out of things (and, gasp, people), and feel good doing it.

    I like your take -- it IS part of a larger battle, maybe so big that we can't quite nail it in one sentence.

    Nice post. Again.

  4. When I think about quitting, it doesn't feel possible. That's the only "why" I can come up with. And yes, I look damn ugly in the gym, but nobody cares but me. I'm thinking of using one of those nice kerchiefs to hold the hair back, as I hate headbands. I'd pick a tough-looking one, of course.

  5. At least you don't have the hair thinning and potential baldness to worry about. Just about everything else about aging I've been able to deal with or mitigate. With a little exercise, I actually feel better than I did in previous decades. When I started putting on weight, I counted my calories and lost it. But there's not much to be done if the hair goes other than to start wearing hats everywhere and/or join the effit crowd.

  6. Or join the "shave your head" crowd...but the upkeep! That's a tough one. We're all dealing with something, I guess.


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