Girl Problems 2

The title of this made me laugh. It sounds like a very boring, formulaic, straight-to-TV tweenie film from the early 90s.

It’s time for my eagerly anticipated (thank you two people) new installment of my series on female-related problems. This time: HAIR.

You’ve got too much. You don’t have enough. You want it long, You want it short. Then you want it long again. You want it a different colour. You get roots. You never should have dyed it. You’ve got split ends. It looks like someone has accidentally microwaved it and scrubbed it with a brillo pad. It’s the colour of boiled potatoes that have been cooked for two weeks solid. You get a hair cut. You get manipulated into spending £50 on products ‘specifically designed for your hair type’. You break up with your boyfriend. Time for a new hair cut! “That’ll show him I’m over him, and also a much newer, more attractive and all-round better person!” Your hairdresser is thinking: fierce bob. You’re thinking “What if I get mistaken for a man?”* You’ve got mousses and waxes, pomades and serums, sprays and oils, mists and cremes. And that is just for the hair on your head.

The way your hair is does say a lot about you. Absolutely. But with a guy, really all it has to say is: I get it cut. I’m neat. I’m clean. It costs £7.50 every six weeks. If you’re a man and this does not apply to you, say for example you have it long, or get it coloured. That says something different to me. Like, you’re not my type.

I’d like to take a minute, though, while we are talking about men and hair to mention that I know they do go bald. And I think this must be quite a hard thing to come to terms with. When I first met my husband, he had a full head of sandy-blonde hair. “He looks like Prince William!” I used to think. Now he really does. Because they have about the same amount of hair. His crown looks like a really shiny place where only five reclusive hairs grow, steadfastly remaining in the area, despite the fact everyone has left. Like some kind of extremely localised follicular apocalypse.

All of my life has basically been spent either: growing out a fringe, craving a fringe when I see the one picture of me where it actually looks nice, then absolutely hating my new fringe. Then the whole stupid cycle begins all over again, as if to remind me: “You are thick. You never learn. And you have a stupid fringe. Haha.”

The single "good fringe" photo

The single “good fringe” photo

Part of my problem is that I fucking love going to the hairdresser. Making the appointment, looking forward to it, and (now I have a child) enjoying three beautiful hours where I don’t have to pretend that I’m Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, or the big bad wolf, or Rapunzel’s Mummy, or pick little bits of dried-up playdo off the sole of tiny little Peppa Pig slippers.

Someone takes my jacket! And makes me a cup of tea! And looks at me in the mirror and asks me what I’d like! Then I get to sit and talk nonsense, read shitey magazines about how some lassie from TOWIE has lost 3 stone eating only green and purple foods. Then they wash my hair! And dry it! And tell me I look awesome! And then they say “You must be going out tonight now!” And I say “No… I’m just going to stay in and catch up on my washing…” But at least I’ll look amazing doing it! *Swishes head around, in the style of Jet from Gladiators*

Another problem is: bobbles and kirbies. Like, WHERE THE FUCK DO THEY ALL ACTUALLY GO? Because I’ve never found them. I must have owned millions of these things. I have visions of people living in houses I used to prising up a floorboard and just finding it stuffed full of brown kirkbies and black bobbles. CCTV would reveal I’d been putting them there myself while I was sleeping. Chilling.

Hair also gets everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. It clumps up behind doors and in corners, covers all black clothing, and generally just floats in the ether. And also: Plugholes. It has to be the worst job in the world to dislodge what looks like half a head of hair from the shower plughole. It’s like a slimy, smelly, dry-boking scene from The Ring, especially if you have dark hair. I imagine for men, living with a woman with long hair must be a little bit like having a high maintenance pet that constantly moults. Strands of hair, bottles of product, and piles of kirbies mark out our territory. I remember feeling different about a boyfriend when I found one of his ex’s (blonde) kirby grips at his house. You’re not over her! She’s still here, like a wiry ghost! She watches us while we sleep! Also, you prefer blondes. I’m leaving! Don’t call! And all that perfectly normal, not-overreacting-at-all stuff.

All of this stuff basically comes down to one thing. I always think: I’d be happy if I had X or Y. Or “I would have enjoyed that night out if I’d had the red dress on.” Or “Once I’ve got that I will not need to buy anything else.” Or “This haircut will define me. It will crystallise who I am as a person. Everyone will know with a single glance.”

But this is nonsense. I get no self-fulfillment really from how I look, or from waiting for a new dress to arrive or from getting my nails done or getting a new colour. I feel good when I look good. But there is something missing. And I am not going to find it by getting stuff and things or through beauty services.

Although it is marginally less problematic than a drink problem, I grant you.

*This has happened to me.

 

Girl Problems part 1

I like to moan. Don’t you? So tonight I’m going to have a whinge about some things that I feel are specific to my gender. I hope you read this and go, “yeah! Me too! Totally.” Not out loud though. Or out loud. I mean if you want. I’m not going to start dictating those kinds of things.

This will be a series, as I’m worried people might drift into a coma halfway through.

OK.

#1
Clothes
Girls love shopping. “LIVE TO SHOP!” is emblazoned across various jute bags I’ve seen doing the rounds at local shopping centres. But I’ve actually never met a woman who truly loves shopping. The only shopping experiences I genuinely enjoy are ones where I don’t need anything and I don’t buy anything. So that sort of defeats the purpose of going shopping. I invariably leave the shopping experience feeling one of or a mixture of : guilt, anger, extreme fatigue, frustration, generally low or like I have the body of a freak. I have walked out of Topshop wondering if I’m secretly part-alien.

If you are a man, as far as I can tell, you are either a small, medium or large. That’s it. And if it’s a bit big, it doesn’t matter. If it’s a bit tight, then people will generally not complain, especially if you’ve got something they’d quite like to see underneath.

But if you’re a woman, one is not simply ‘a’ dress size. The question, “what size are you?” will probably be met with a warning look, but once you stress it is for research purposes, you will probably find that there will be several follow-up questions. “In which shop?” “Summer or winter clothes?” “Are we talking tops? Or trousers? Jeans are something else altogether.”

Shopping for the right jeans, my friends, takes not only extreme strength of character, but also a lot of energy, and acceptance that this may not happen in your lifetime. This may well be an endeavour that will still not be fulfilled on your death bed. “I wish,” you will gasp, ” that I never bought all those jeans that were slightly too big in the waist, knowing I would never ‘just wear a belt’.” Seriously; these will probably be my last words. I’m betting that the average woman will spend thousands on jeans that they buy in the hope they will suddenly, out of the blue (pun?), fit properly. I suspect these jeans are bought in desperation, perhaps tinged with hope, or resignation.

I go into the changing room at River Island or whatever with about 8 pairs of jeans, all in different styles, and different sizes. The 18-year old changing room assistant counts out my selection with quizzical skepticism. I look at her, daring her to say something. She backs down. “Let me know if you want any different sizes!” She chirrups, and skips away. I swish the curtain closed, take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, and steel myself for the coming tsunami of emotion.

Pair number one I’ve tried on before, and hated. But you never know, and they look so nice on the hanger. I poke my toe in, and then can’t get them over my ankle. I retreat, knowing it’s not worth it.

Pair number two slide on like a dream. Tiny, baby butterflies begin fluttering about jubilantly in my lower abdomen. Could this be it? The moment I’ve been waiting for? I pull them up round my hips, and… there’s six inches of material round the waist but they are skin-tight on my calves. I immediately remove them. They’re a size bigger than a normally buy anyway, so there’s no danger I would have bought them. Even typing this makes me feel sad about myself.

Pair number three are a boyfriend style, which I don’t like the look of, and they’re a funny colour. I put them on. They look like straight-legged jeans on me, but still two inches of gappage at the back. I pull them off, nearly ready to poke my own eyes out.

Problems with subsequent pairs: too short, too long, can’t get my arse/calves/thighs in, I look like somebody’s granny (I don’t even know why I picked up the bootcut ones), too high waisted, or they are pube-revealing, don’t like the colour, they are ripped at the knee (not a fan), they go on OK, and would be fine as long as I don’t walk, sit down, or bend over. The list is, to be frank, fucking endless.

I’m hot, I’m sweaty. No clothes are made for me. I’ve been out of the house for three hours and all I’ve bought is a lamp and spent £40 in Lush. I just want some jeans that don’t expose my arse or make me look like I have the knees of a rugby player.

I exit the changing rooms, defeated. “Were they any good for you?” enquires the assistant, looking doubtful.

I momentarily glower at her, but then remember it isn’t her fault. “No, none of them fit!”

She looks surprised. Maybe it is just me?

Then I spend £45 on a handbag I don’t want or need.

Sound familiar?

Being Introverted

When I was about 8 years old, I was on holiday with my family. I can’t remember where, and they will likely none of them remember this. We were having dinner and there was a guy making balloon animals and stuff for the kids. I watched pretty happily from afar. Then I went to the toilet. When I came back, the guy came over and just put a wee balloon poodle down in front of me. It was so cute, and had a wee pom-pom on the end of its tail. My mum and dad, knowing that I never would have gone up, even with company, paid the guy to make one and come over and hand it to me. I was so embarrassed that I burst into tears. I think my parents must have thought, “What the hell are we supposed to do with this kid?!”

I think this illustrates my introversion pretty well. And it’s not the same thing as being shy. I quite like parties. People who know me well will laugh and guffaw when I say I’m introverted. I like telling stories and making people laugh; I don’t even mind being the centre of attention, for a while. It’s just that I find it wholly exhausting.

There are also major drawbacks to being an introvert. After a few hours in someone’s company I will just stop talking. I will want to be on my own. I’ve been known to retire to bed or have a bath just so I can stop talking or stop being in a conversation. It’s not because I don’t like the person or because I’m bored. I just need to recharge.

I also find interviews hard . I’m not very good at talking about myself extensively. Or at ‘selling myself’. All I can think is, “you sound like a total twat. Shut up. No one cares.” My other nightmare: “Let’s go round the circle and each say something interesting about ourselves!” Argh. I don’t care who once shaved their head for charity or if your son once sat beside Gordon Brown on the train. Inevitably, these ‘interesting’ things are so dull they make everyone sound like a boring bastard. It was definitely an extrovert that came up with that idea.

I think this is partly the reason why I find my job so exhausting. As a teacher, I’m always talking to folk. Then when I come home I like to be mute for a good hour or so.

I know I sound really boring but I can be really vibrant and funny. Just in sets, like a bizarre real-life comedian. They say the best entertainers are virtually reclusive in real life. Lessons 1-3 at school are amazing. Lesson 4-6 I’m like: “everyone read so I can stare at this wall.”

Anyway, I’ll do a list of introvert-y things. I like lists.

1. The two best things about going out are: getting ready, on my own, with loud music and loads of time. And coming home.

2. I think it’s because I’m tall, and I stride about or because I’m slightly paranoid, or possibly a mixture of both things. But I feel like a lot of people stare at me. I said this to a friend once and she said, “It’s probably because they hate your outfit.” At first I was offended and then it made me laugh.

3. Sometimes I need to be on my own so much I get chest pains. Maybe I should see a doctor about this….

4. I like to think. I consider it an activity.

5. I find busy places hellish. Humans in large numbers, all involved in the same pursuit, are not very pleasant or considerate.

6. I’m not good with friendly strangers. I always think they’re up to something. This makes me come across as a total d-bag.

Having read this, I don’t think I sound like a very nice person.

But being an introvert, I’m not bothered. Go away please.

🙂

If I were a Disney Princess

Part of the amazingness of having a 3 year old daughter is the excuse to buy every Disney film ever made. I absolutely love it.

I love the old school ones, I love the new ones. I just love it all.

I took Phoebe to see the new Cinderella and googled “Is it OK to take a three year old to see Cinderella” as I was a bit worried it wouldn’t hold her attention. It was the first ever live-action film I had taken her to. What I wasn’t prepared for was the furious backlash of mothers determined to keep their daughters away from ‘things like that’. “I hate the Princess thing. I don’t want her thinking she’s got to sit about waiting for a man to rescue her.” Er… OK.

I reckon I’m a modern feminist. I live by the Caitlin Moran rule: I have a vagina (tick), and I care what happens to it (tick). I have a degree and a career. I make my own money. But does that mean, on my low days, when I’m on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor or dusting picture frames, that I can’t fantasize that a tall, blue-eyed prince with a strong jaw, sporting an impressive bulge from his tighty-whiteys will burst through the front door and shout, “In the name of all that is good, release that beautiful woman from her domestic drudgery!” No, I don’t believe it does.

And following that rule, does that mean I shouldn’t let her see, as she grows up, programs about religious extremism, for fear that she will start bombing shopping centres? Or should I not let her be friends with a child with same-sex parents, in case she comes home with a buzzcut, wearing dungarees?

Oh please. She is who she is.

Anyway, it got me thinking about what I would have done if I were in any of the unusual situations that many Disney Princesses find themselves in.

1. Beauty and the Beast

This is easy.

At this very moment, I would be trapped in an unhappy marriage to Gaston. I’d have 8 sons, and I’d be able to pluck a pheasant like a pro. All the girls would have been jealous of me once, but now they just feel sorry for me, because I’ve got a massive gunt. Gaston has aaaallll the affairs, but I don’t mind because it lessons that chance of a ninth pregnancy, and gives me more time to feed the chickens.

2.The Little Mermaid

I would have stayed a mermaid, because Triton is far more impressive a man than Prince Eric. I’m sure he would have found another bird with a nice voice. And possibly legs.

3. Snow White

I would have jumped on the back of the Prince’s horse the second he started singing to me by the well. Nae messin’.

4. Cinderella

My ability to have courage and be kind would have faded about nine minutes in. I’d be rotting in a jail cell for a triple homicide.

This has been a bit rambly. I never would have thought that at age 30, I’d still be daydreaming about wearing a massive sparkly blue dress, but there you have it. I’m sure I can’t be alone on this one. Give me pink, give me princesses, give me noble steeds, give me corsets and animal sidekicks. Not forgetting a bit of tighty-whitey action.

Can’t. Stop. Looking.

Travelling light with a baby

I remember when I was pregnant, and the changing bag idea excited me. I love a bag-more or less of any kind. I even love canvas and jute supermarket jobbies if they’re bepatterned-and so the changing bag with its novelty additions (a changing mat! A bottle warmer! A dummy clip! How precious!) opened up a whole new avenue of bag shopping for me. I even manbagged my husband (he wasn’t even that horrified). Pretty quickly, though, I realised that every changing bag I’d bought (4, if you’re interested) was crappy. The changing may was too small/easily stained, the bag itself, despite being massively bulky, could barely hold what I needed, the bottle warmer didn’t work, the dummy clip broke, it wouldn’t sit properly on the pram without adjustment, and then it wouldn’t fit on me when I took it off the pram…. those damn bags were the source of many sweating, screaming child moments where I wanted to throw all my baby paraphernalia at passing cars, firebomb the mamas & papas HQ, stick a nappy in my pocket and hope for the best.

Anyway, you can imagine how chuffed I was when it dawned on me that I actually no longer needed that much stuff now when out for the day with junior. I’ve always been the kind of person who enjoys a big bag. I’m a tall person, and small bags look like children’s bags on me. Also, I’ve never really been a keys-lipstick-phone person, so. What I do now, is just have my regular handbag, and make four additions, and i’m ready to go out for morning/afternoon with junior. Obviously, if I had to give her a meal, I’d need her lunchbox too- but I have a bottle bag with a long strap so I can just along that over my shoulder too.

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Mini pack of baby wipes. Book (preferably with flaps, textures bits or noisy bits), musical toy with buttons.
I always need baby wipes! If you have a baby it needs to be wiped in some way or another, pretty much constantly. I find the same is true of husbands. I draw the line at two multi tasking toys that do lots of things or a favourite. I sometimes feel even if I took twenty toys she wouldn’t be occupied any longer, anyway.

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Ah, my zippy thing. I don’t even know what this is, but it us like a make up bag with two zip compartments. And ok, after slagging them off, it’s from a change bag. This is what I put inside:

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My change kit!

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Snacks, tissues (sometimes you need a dry wipe. Babies always have runny noses), sachet of calpol and spoon, bubbles (constant source of amazement and free in a party bag.)

So I hope i’ve convinced you that don’t need to suffer the change bag depression after 12 months, at the latest. I’ve been doing this since she was about 8 months, when pooing was more, erm, reliable and I had a really strong idea of her needs and wants.

If you have found a good change bag… Tell me!

Total pants.

I recently cleared out my underwear drawer. It was overflowing. Totally stuffed full. I know there are women out there that have, let’s say, seven ish matching sets of expensive, beautiful lingerie, that they lovingly hand wash in a specially selected, extra gentle crushed pearl and lily detergent.

I am not one of those women. In my travels through my drawers I saw things I don’t think people with eyes should see. Readers of a nervous disposition would be better looking away. Now.

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Dear, oh dear. I’m not making a parachute (and if I was it certainly wouldn’t be pink leopard print. Or would it be?) These stretchy size 20 (not the largest pants I own-see below) bad boys saw me through a few post natal Weeks. And for that, I’m truly thankful. But now, they need to get out of my sight.

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I’m not sure if this is socially acceptable, but I borrowed these pants from friends. I’m unsure of the circumstances. But then, I just never gave them back. That is not socially acceptable. Ever. Sorry, Shelley and Laura. I put them in the bin.

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I photographed these novelty pants in the only way they should be-upside down. Would it make you worry for my marriage less if I told you that my husband bought both pairs for me as gifts?

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These will never keep anyone warm. Also, if I wanted my buttocks on display when I took my trousers off, I just wouldn’t wear pants. Sheer pants are offensive. Again, if I wanted people to see what was under my pants when I took my breeks off, I WOULDN’T WEAR ANY. No one wears a thong anymore unless it’s for practical reasons. It’s not 1999.

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Ah, pants with a story. I had to put a pair of my usual (not tiny may I add) pants in order to give scale. My mother in law gave me these size 24 pants as a joke on my hen weekend in 2008. I’ve kept them. I’m not ruling out ever being a size 24.

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Do you remember when boy pants were all the rage? For god’s sake. I fear for the future of humanity at times.

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The only nice underwear in my selection. I’ve only worn it once, and I will never wear it again. 🙂

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Photobombed.

Shaving Face

Now, I like real men of the muscles and DIY variety. Given the right set of circumstances, I don’t even mind a bit of sweat and dirt. I think we can all agree, though, that grooming is not, now more than ever, a pursuit restricted to the ladies.

My husband- let’s call him Yumbeedad (YBD)- has a set of products that he has come to rely on now. After all, men need to shave and wash (hopefully)- isn’t shaving your face a hideous thought girls?!- and so using a facial wash and slapping on a bit of moisturiser is only a logical extension of this. In addition, those men with enough hair may wish to use some sort of taming product. I once went out with a boy who used hairspray and I confess this put me off him somewhat. There is something very girly about hairspray. So unless your manfriend is honing some kind of outlandish mohican, a wax or gum is good.

Men also need to smell good. And while it is OK for women to be perfume butterflies, intoxicatedly buzzing about from one fragrance to the next, men need a signature scent. A day one and a night one the very most. Incidentally, let it be known right now that I don’t believe in ‘natural musk’. That is just the beginnings of BO.

V05 Extreme Style Texturising Gum

I only have to see this pot and I think of YBD. He has been using it for years; long before we were together. I feel a bit sad to write about it now because YBD has just given into his baldness and shaved his hair, thereby removing the need to use any product on it. Anyway, he swore by this stuff for keeping his hair in style. He has a ‘very strong pull forward’ according to his barber, but this stuff would spike his hair up and keep it that way all day. He would never every even try any thing else. Even I used to use a little on Blow Dry day 2 to add a little texture and lift to my hair. It also smells amazing, sort of like tropical bananas?! You get a little smidge of it and ‘texturise’ it between you fingers then apply to your hair. A word of warning though- it’s VERY sticky. Hand wash required post use.

Chanel Allure Homme Sport

I am the sort of sad pathetic creature that goes all knock-kneed and giggly at the whiff of a nice bit of cologne. Even if the wearer is a hairy, 5’4”, socks-and-sandals-wearing, beard-sporting, balding, fat man. No joke. Anyway, this is the kind of man-smell that people respond to with a “Hmmmm… what is that?!” It’s almost like the Lynx-effect, if that actually worked. I exaggerate. But it smells really good. The Sport one is much younger and fresher than its Allure Homme parent, so more suitable for a man in his 20s/30s. The only downer is, it is really expensive; about £60 for 50ml. But Chanel fragrances are pricey. It makes you want them even more!!!

L’Oreal Men Expert Anti Perspirant 48Hr Dry Non-Stop

I do feel a bit weird writing about deodorant. I do most sincerely hope that everyone reading this uses it (if you think you don’t need it, then you have finally found out why you always get two seats to yourself on the bus) but it is a bit like writing about tampons or loo roll (this one’s super-absorbant!) Anyway, YBD likes this one because he has to use roll-on, as a spray irritates his skin, poor love. It has a nice big ball (lol) which rolls around easily, distributing the product well and he says it’s a very good anti perspirant. A few times I’ve forgotten deodorant when I’ve been in the bathroom (where I keep mine) and then notice YBD’s (he keeps his in the bedroom) when I’m moistursing, but I never have actually used it. I just think of all the awkward situations which could be created when I break into a sweat at a crucial moment and people notice I smell like a man.

Bull Dog Natural Skin Care Range (Face Wash, Shave Gel and Original Moisturiser)

This range has made a nice wee cosy place for itself amongst YBD’s few but trusted products. The range is organic, or at the very least paraben-free, which is good, and the range has a nice fresh, clean tea-tree type fragrance which really makes you feel clean. I have the advantage of having used all of these products either because I have been caught short in the shower (not in the toilet sense) or because I was just curious. The face wash is nice and lathery, although it is not foamy because of the lack of Sodium Laurel Sulphate (Parabens). It leaves your skin feeling very clean but not tight or dry. The shave gel is lovely and smooth and makes the razor glide. It is moisturising and you really don’t need much. A blob the size of half a walnut did both legs, and both my oxters too. The moisturiser is light but nourishing. It isn’t greasy and also comes in a sensitive version for the more irritable-skinned man in your life.

King of Shaves Azor

This razor is sleek and simple, and is not over packaged like lots of razors. It is well worth noting, as you may not know, that dermatologists recommend no more than two blades on your razor. Any more than two, and you risk exposing new and very delicate skin to the elements. You are getting such a close shave because you are taking layers of skin with the hair. Over time, this can even lead to scarring. Hideous. So switch to two blades tout suit. This razor molds to the shape of your chosen shaving site and it’s nice light design is a pleasure to shave with. How do I know, I hear you cry? Well, they do a lady version too which is shocking pink! His ‘n’ Hers. Gotta love it. We’ll be wearing matching Kagools next.

Lynx Rise Shower Gel

YBD isn’t a slave to this shower gel, it just happens to be the one he is currently using. It gives a good foam without having to use loads of gel and it smells nice. Could be a good one for the Christmas stocking?

Soap & Glory Scrub Your Nose in it

Now YBD would never buy this for himself, as all his products have to be packaged as ‘For Men’. However, he really likes this and uses it as a scrub for himself when it is available in the shower. There are a real lack of good exfoliators on the market for men, so YBD tends to use mine. This one is good for him as it has a real lemony-limey scent (which if I’m honest, smells a bit like Jif) but the granular texture really works a treat. Like, you can feel it working. Also, if you leave it on post scrub, it acts as a face-brightening mask. Multi-tasking? What could be more masculine than that? NOT.