(This story appears in Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Woman, which was released in October 2012.)
Everything I needed to know about hair I learned from watching Charlie’s Angels. They say that your favorite hairstyle travels back to the time when you thought you looked your best. For me that was the 1970s, and my hairstyle of choice was called the Farrah, after the late actress Farrah Fawcett.
The Farrah was a style I could figure out. Cool, feathered, moussed a mile high, curled up tight with an iron. I methodically worked on it each morning before high school, loading on gel, wax and mousse. I finalized the ‘do with half a can of Aqua Net Hair Spray, thick and sticky. And I added a fake tan, orange streaks and all. Viola, ready for school. The big hair look — no one could do it better than me.
But today — 40 years later — my Farrah style was a bit more lax. But it is still there. As I was getting ready for date night with my husband, my daughter approached me in the bathroom.
“Mom, your hair looks so 1970s. Want some help?” she asked.
After having two children and lugging them around to 2,890 baseball games and over 10,000 basketball practices for the last 17 years, I admit I’ve become a little lazy. I consider it fancy to put my hair in a ponytail and dab on lip-gloss. And who had time for a blow-dryer?
My daughter combed, twisted, teased and sprayed my hair. After 30 minutes grooming me, she turned me around to gaze at her creation. I was at a loss for words. Lady Gaga in her finest stared back at me, but without a long feather and a tiny black hat. Add a meat dress and I would be unforgettable.
“I think I can handle it from here. Thanks,” I said, as she walked out of the room.
I needed to get current and break from my old ways. I need age-appropriate hair, I thought. With that, I scheduled an appointment to update my look.
“What can we do for you today?” the gal at the salon asked as she pulled back my hoodie and yanked out the elastic band on my ponytail.
“I need an update. Surprise me.”
“But what do you usually do?” she asked as she massaged my head with aromatic oils.
Oh, we don’t want to go there. I have been through more styles than Imelda Marcos has shoes. Remember the shag in the mid 1970s made famous by David Cassidy and Rod Stewart? Shorter at the top, downward layers in the front. Blow-dry upside down after loading on tons of styling gels, fluffy and full.
Or what about the perm? In the 1980s, I was treated to a home perm kit, courtesy of my best friends. Major frizz. Topped it off with an application of Sun In. Teased the bangs out, piled high with a scrunchie. I looked just like a poodle. Gob on gaudy jewelry to complete the ensemble. My friends and I looked identical.
Thankfully I never attempted the Dorothy Hamill or the female mullet.
My stylist tapped me on the shoulder to shake me out of my daze in order to witness her magic as she transformed my locks. For an hour, she snipped and trimmed, paying careful attention to my face, hair texture and lifestyle. She did an awesome job fixing my hair, smooth side swept bangs and straight, glossy locks in the back. A natural look, I thought when I glanced at myself in the mirror. I liked what I saw.
“Thanks, I love it,” I said with a hug.
I purchased all the hair products she recommended. “I can do this,” I said to myself. Once at home, I darted into the bathroom to check it out in my own mirror.
I admired the reflection staring back at me. But what if I just brushed a little here? Or curled a tiny bit there? Within moments, my hair was fluffed, poofed and once again sprayed immobile. Aw, much better.
“Good morning, Charlie! I’m back. Miss me?”
— Stacey Gustafson
Stacey Gustafson is a freelance writer, humor columnist, artist, blogger and stay-at-home mother. Her blog “Are You Kidding Me?” is based on her suburban family and everyday life. Her short stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Not Your Mother’s Books. Her work appears in Midlife Boulevard, ZestNow, Pleasanton Patch, corporate newsletters and even a commencement speech. She lives in California with her husband and two teenagers who provide an endless supply of inspiration. She writes about parenting and daily frustrations like her dislike of laundry, the DMV and being middle-aged. Visit her blog, www.staceygustafson.com, and Twitter @mepaint.
Let’s face it. Ladies’ undergarments were not designed with comfort in mind. Not much has changed since the invention of the corset that was meant to give a woman an 18-inch waist.
But the undergarment I am going to rant about is Spanx or shape wear, like the old fashioned girdle. They tout the motto, “No matter the occasion or season, we’ve got a shape to keep you looking great from all angles!”
But at what price?
I heard of a case where the mother of the bride was stuck inside a full body Spanx for five hours. If Spanx’s motto is, “Spanx is here on your big day,” where were they? It slims and lifts, but is it worth it?
My big moment came to prove the claims made by Spanx. My husband’s company was hosting a New Year’s Eve party and I needed a little tightening in some places, especially the tummy. At the mall, I purchased a pair of “Trust Your Thinstincts Mid-Thigh Control Panel Shapers” for $58. Size: Large. Slimming level: medium. Unfortunately, I did not try them on in the dressing room before purchase.
Dress ironed, shoes polished, hair coiffed, face painted, it was time to get on the undies. Unwrapping the package, I realized I had made a terrible mistake. Straight out of the envelope, the pair dropped into my palm as small as a mustard seed. Were these for children?
The instructions or “warnings” stated that putting on Spanx was “moderately challenging.” An understatement. Don’t use after a shower. Use with baby powder. When all else fails, go up a size. Take your time. For additional assistance, call the Spanx hotline. Yeesh.
I stepped into the panties right foot first, trying to pull up to the waistline on the first try. Major mistake. I was knocked to the ground.
Next, I entered the left foot. Starting from my ankle, I rolled a tiny bit upward. A combination of yanking, jumping and holding my breath got the panties past my knees.
At mid-thigh, like a tourniquet, it was constricting and compressing my extremities. As the panties climbed higher, I felt light headed and sweaty. I panicked. Losing circulation fast.
It was time to call in the reinforcements. Or 911.
“Mike, help! I can’t get up.”
Rushing into the bathroom, he took one look at me on the ground, undies half on, legs askew, and blanched.
“Avert your eyes,” I said.
“Grab my arm. I’ll try not to look.”
I reached for his hand with a clammy palm. I realized as he pulled me upright that he may never look at me in the same light again.
“I’ll be waiting downstairs,” he said, blasting down the staircase.
Ping! One final yank moved the Spanx into place. But Spanx couldn’t contain my fat any longer. It started to roll out the bottom and my knees grew as huge as my butt. Fat bulged above my waistline, yet not high enough to enhance the bust line. What do I do now Spanx? Huh.
I threw on my clothes after molding the fat into the right places and then headed down the steps. Dear God, if this wrap-around dress comes undone, my husband will be lucky to keep his job.
It’s Show Time
At dinner, my stomach was compressed so tightly that I could only eat tiny portions of food. And drinking? Forget about that.
After three hours, I was eager to use the restroom. Twisting and turning in the confines of a bathroom stall, I made as much ruckus as a rugby player. I could dislocate a shoulder pulling my Spanx down.
“Are you okay?” asked the lady in the next stall.
“Just a little out of breath. I’ll be fine.”
After we left the restaurant before midnight, my husband said, “You seem happy. Did you have a good time?”
“Yep, it was fun.”
Bottom line, stuffing Spanx into my purse and going commando was the only option. I value breathing and eating over beauty. My advice, save the money and do sit ups.
— Stacey Gustafson
Stacey Gustafson is a freelance writer, humor columnist for Midlife Boulevard, artist, blogger and stay-at-home mother. Her blog, “Are You Kidding Me?” is based on her suburban family and everyday life. Her short stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Not Your Mother’s Books. Her work appears in Generation Fabulous, ZestNow, Pleasanton Patch, corporate newsletters and even a commencement speech. She lives in California with her husband and two teenagers who provide an endless supply of inspiration. She writes about parenting and daily frustrations like her dislike of laundry, the DMV and being middle-aged. Visit her blog www.staceygustafson.com and Twitter @mepaint.
Stacey Gustafson, author, humor columnist and blogger, has published her debut novel, Are You Kidding Me? My Life With An Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives. It’s available on Amazon and Kindle. You can also check it out by visiting her blog, Are You Kidding Me?
“Would It Kill Ya?” — a humorous short story by Stacey Gustafson — will appear in Not Your Mother’s Book…On Family. She has six stories published in five books in this series. She also is the monthly humor columnist for Generation Fabulous. Her blog — “Are You Kidding Me?” — is based on her suburban family and everyday life.