#122: Throw Off the Middle-Aged Burka

When exactly did the imams sweep through my town in suburban New Jersey and decree that every woman over the age of 40 had to chop off her hair, wash off her makeup, and start dressing in baggy black or beige linen or flannel, buttoned up to the neck, hanging down to the ground, and I’ll have you wear flat, rubber-soled shoes with that, missy.

The middle-aged suburban woman-shrouding style is so ingrained that anyone wearing something bright or tight or low-cut (usually that’s me) is viewed with suspicion. What’s she up to? Who does she think she is? Where is she going? And why is she flaunting it like that?

I say break out the hair dye, invest in some really expensive undergarments, make your daughters take you shopping for once. If your husbands feel threatened, if your friends think you’re a traitor to the sisterhood, if the other moms question your fitness, just let ’em. As long as you’re still walking this earth, you might as well do it in shoes that click.

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One response to “#122: Throw Off the Middle-Aged Burka

  1. Arlene


    We do The Suburban Burka because:

    1) We hate the new shapes we got (as a punishment?) in our mid-40s. We don’t want to see them. We don’t want anyone else to see them, either.

    2) Everything in the stores is for size 2 teenagers.

    3) We have no time for shopping and styling: We have jobs, elderly parents, young children, too many obligations.

    4) If you have one strand of gray hair, you are getting a 1980 mushroom cut at any hair salon you visit, whether you want one or not. This seems to be the Young-Stylist-Approved Old Lady Haircut, the same one they give the patients at the State Hospital.

    All these reasons are completely true and happen everywhere, millions of times a day. But the “style” is still oppressive–even if we’re doing it to ourselves.

    We can’t change the fashion industry, the hateful beliefs of young hair stylists, or the fact that every “family obligation” means New Job for Good Old Mom. But we can:

    1) Throw out everything worn out, bad fitting, or older than five years.

    2) Get new bras that really fit.

    3) Decide to change hair stylists until you find one who really “sees” you. Alternatively, grow in your hair and put it up…or buzz cut it yourself. It can hardly come out worse than the Old Lady Mushroom.

    4) Decide to try on clothes in inexpensive stores at least once a month. It only takes a half hour. It’s a great cheap thrill when you find something new that actually works–and when you do, buy two. Turn off your cell phone while doing this.

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