Guest Post Sunday – Getting Old Ain’t for cissies by Johanna Castro

Jo Castro rarely gets out these days and hides in a bat cave in deepest South West Australia. If you’d like to connect with her you can on her blog Lifestyle Fifty where she proffers quite useless hope and inspiration for other aging women.

She’s also on Twitter @johannaAcastro and Facebook at Lifestyle Fifty.

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It’s been one of those days – a day of creakiness, feeling old and being at the mercy of my hormones which seem to be going completely haywire.

Worst of all I’ve had a stomach churningly bad hair day and staring back at me from the bathroom mirror stands an old hag, someone straight out of a pantomime – you know wicked witch and all that.


The truth of the matter is that although I may look to the world like a wrinkled, graying old cow with unnatural blond highlights and attitude, I actually still feel, well inside at least, that I’m about 25. You know, that I could still dance on tables at 3am in the morning with a bottle of Tequila in one hand and a fag in the other, and not be slayed by cerebral daggers for at least three days afterwards.

Ok. I can’t. And I don’t. Not Anymore. Er, do you?

It’s only when I’m walking a little stiffly, two steps behind my beautiful, jaunty, 22 year old daughter that I really get the picture. I have become invisible to everyone except maybe my 85 year old mother.

So these days my vanity prefers me without glasses, and then thank goodness age has little meaning as I stare blissfully into the mirror, eyes nude and mind open to the impossible.

My skin glows and I can’t see a single blackhead on my nose anymore.

Ego pops her head out and cheers. “Hah, you see, you’re aging like a bloody pop princess!”

But some horrible dark voice of consciousness yells back at me. “Hold on baby! Who are you trying to kid?”

And suddenly there’s a war going on inside my head and I feel a little weak. At least in need of a nice glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc and a comforting chat with a friend.

Alas, too early for wine and a whine, so I take myself off to have my hair ‘done’.

I write ‘done’ in the loosest possible sense because really it’s not do-able anymore. It’s become straw-like, stiff, wiry, old ladies hair, and I know there’s tons of grey going on under the highlights because I can see them in my all too visible cow-pat coloured roots.

Anyway, the hairdresser is young. Far too young. Perfect skin, perfect pout, gorgeous hair, not a line or saggy bag anywhere near her eyes.

I peer into the mirror in front of me and can’t see many lines around my eyes either.

Oh, I haven’t got my glasses on.

Hell. That girl really is young and peachy, and I’m not.

To make myself feel better I nearly say: ‘Hey, bring me coffee, Bitch!’ but the words that come out of my mouth have not (thankfully) obeyed my salty old mind and I hear myself say quite sweetly in answer to her question about refreshment… “Oh a cappuccino would be lovely, thank you.”

She brings me coffee and magazines. Dear thing. And I settle down under my black cape, feeling around for my broom stick.

“What do you want done?” She asks, picking up my hair from around my droopy jowls. “All off, perhaps, short? Could take years off your face.”


No I do not want the last vestiges of flowing locks cut off thank you very much. That would be like cutting off the last strains of my younger self and losing the power of presumed youth.

“Er no, just a trim and highlights,” I proffer a little uncertainly.

She gives me a slightly disdainful look, not in keeping with her chocolate box looks, which I ignore because I’m settling down to read a crappy gossip magazine.

I love crappy gossip magazines! But I never buy them. So this is the sort of me-time I wallow in.

But what’s going on. The celebrities in this issue have surely been stolen from cradles. They look about 12 years old. Where are the celebrities that I hero-worship?

I turn a few pages and find some.

My own heroes and heroines of the 70s and 80s star studded world have grown portly and paunchy with treble chins, thinning or graying hair, and eyes which look tired and lack-lustre.

My goodness is that my heart throb Richard Gere on page five with snowy hair, and why are a certain Prince’s chins trying their best to make love to his tie?

The thought that money can actually turn back the clock flashes past my consciousness and dissolves – it hasn’t really worked for them.

I prepare to take off my glasses to go to the washbasin, but first catch sight of myself in THAT mirror again.

Good grief while sitting here my neck has turned into a scrawny turkey’s bum, and my chin is sort of pock-marked with peculiarly large meteorite holes. Out of my nose poke two horrible long straggly grey hairs and why are those whispy, steel wool thingies masquerading as my eyebrows?

As if that wasn’t enough my hair is hanging in spiky tendrils some of it now in silver foil and I know I look like something the space-ship would prefer not to take on the journey home.

“Did I say just a trim?” I ask the hairdresser.

“Mmm, yes,” she replies.

“Cut it short. Take it off!” I snap a tad unjustly.

“As you wish,” Miss Peaches and Cream smiles sweetly before adding with a knowing wink to make sure I understand I’ve been rumbled. “Short hair makes you look so much younger when you’re the wrong side of 50.”

If I hadn’t been wrapped securely in an encompassing black gown, I would have kicked the little darling, I really would.

Hell yeah, sure I would, ‘cos I ain’t no aging cissy!

Footnote: Since that day I’ve let my hair grown long (ish) again. I suppose I’ll have to go through the whole damn pantomime again one day soon.

I wonder what your take is on things – Long hair or short hair as we get older – or doesn’t it matter?


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  • Heidi D

    I am mid 40’s & up until 2 years ago had long hair. After having half my head shaved for surgery I was just thankful it had gone well & kept on saying I didn’t care about hair. When enough had grown back I went to the hairdresser to try & turn what looked remarkably like a small animal perched on my head into a style. I was feeling great about it until I found myself standing next to a lady in her 70’s with her hair exactly the same as mine. I don’t care how shallow I sound, I have changed my mind, I do care about hair ! I will be back at the hairdressers again soon :)

    • Johanna

      I’m so glad your surgery went well and your comment about your hair resembling a small animal perched on your head tickled me ! Here’s hoping your new style is going to be gorgeous … I’m sure it will :)

  • MsLBD

    Oh how I resonate with this entire post. About how you might feel about yourself, versus reality, versus what is our value as we age? Versus comparing ourselves to others.
    Now add approaching 50 and being a single Middle Aged Mum and trying to date.. the easiest avenue (and say that rather loosely only in terms of access) is internet dating. An interesting place, where men of my age like to open up their options and see if they can snare a 20 something.. or even 30 something. And that’s OK because if they want to and they can who I am to stop them.. I would like to find a man of integrity.. and quality, not someone vain and shallow. The problem is by the time I weed them out, I am left with the gobsmacking number of married men who think they are doing the ‘old girl’ a favour by getting laid.. or the Nigerian scammers.. or the people who lie, lie lie about all manner of things.

    .. and to make it worse on my 49th birthday last week (yes my birthday that day when you look back and everything you haven’t done and wonder how many years you have left to get it right) my tween daughter say me looking at an online dating site, and asked me repeatedly if the reasonably good looking age appropriate man I was conversing with had actually SEEN my photos (the implication being – why the heck would he want to be with you?). I had another (this time teary) conversation about it’s what’s inside that counts. It is WHO someone is not just the way they look that represents how valuable they are as a human being. We all age. And I used to look at my grandmother when she was alive and think how beautiful she was and how much I loved her and would never have dreamt of dissing her or suggesting she change herself.

    I wonder how Candice Bushnell would present Carrie Bradshaw as a almost 50 something and how she would be coping with that void where you step beyond mid life in to no-man’s land.. and the maintenance required to look half decent changes so much. Styling your hair a different way to hide the alarmingly thinning hair, so much grey that you wonder when (and how) you go all grey without having the regrowth from hell. Hair that grows in places it shouldn’t. Hair that grows in place it shouldn’t AND in thick and wiry ways that can’t be tamed and plucking will have you looking like a bald badger. And at this age – hair doesn’t always grow back and if it does, it isnt always even… LOL the list could go on and on!

    • Johanna

      I’m so glad you could relate and yes it’s such a confusing and alarming time of life Ms LBD. I loved reading your at times heartfelt and at other times humorous comments about getting older , thank you. I hope the Internet dating comes up trumps in the end.

      • MsLBD

        Me too 😉

  • Lisa @ countrygypsies

    Why oh why do the 12 year old hairdressers always want to cut our hair short? I don’t get it. I had my hair cut short, I mean really short once when the shed evil told me how much younger/thinner/beautiful I would look. I left that hairdresser looking like I had been involved in a fight with a lawn mower and it only made me look older/ fatter/ uglier.
    Thankfully, the hairdresser I see now knows that I WILL NOT go short so does not try anymore.

    • Johanna

      Oh that’s funny Lisa! I do know what you mean 😉 So glad you’ve found a sympathetic hairdresser now!

  • Pinky Poinker

    I’m in my fifties and have long hair. And I’ll have long hair if I make it into my eighties. A nice grey bun. I don’t fall for what those prepubescent hairdressers say anymore.

    • Johanna

      I like your resolve Pinky! Here’s to Grey buns of any descriptions :)

    • Johanna

      Here’s to Grey buns of every description Pinky!

  • Life Images by Jill

    I am goodness I can so relate to this Jo! I only go to the hairdresses when I absolutely have to because those lights and those black capes do nothing for my “over-50” looks. Especially if it is a basically “at home day” and Ikve gone out without makeup.

    My age hit me in the face the yesterday when I went to buy nickers – I am definitely not ready for old ladies bloomers, but I don’t want bikini nickers or worse still, g-strings, either. Can we have a nickers brand for 50s who feel like they are 20 something, but know they aren’t anymore!

    Thanks Jo for a Sunday arvo laugh.

    • Johanna

      Ha ha Jill I know just what you mean. I had to take back a pack of five the other day … my choices were: full, high bikini brief or g string. Wrongly I chose full which nearly covered my belly button too!

      • Denise Gillies

        Look on ciao bella

        • Johanna

          Going to Google it now Denise. Maybe this is the answer to comfy sexy … I wonder !

  • Life Images by Jill

    ps – my son told me years ago that the day I cut my long hair, is the day I am feeling old, so I am defiantly hanging on to my long hair, although blonde foils really help my confidence in covering up some of that tell-tale grey these days!

    • Johanna

      Good choice I reckon Jill! You go girl!

  • Denise Gillies

    Poor Jo! I think you should just sit next to me in the hairdressers. I’m always grateful for the black cape. It hides the protruding middle area and I can pull it up to hide some chin rolls. Take the cape away and all my body flaws are exposed. Where can I look ? Look up and it’s wrinkles, look down and it’s rolls. You’d be star material- a shorter Elle McPherson.

    • Johanna

      Oh Denise I think not … poor Elle must be shuddering! But the black cape YES how wonderful is That blimmin cape 😉

  • Jen I

    My 9 year old just cut all her hair off short. It was down to her bum and now it’s SHORT. We spent some time looking at short styles and deciding which she would like before she went under the scissors. Looking at all those cute pixie hair cuts I thought maybe I could go short too… Until I realised if me – 42 – had short hair – I would look way too similar to my mother – or any other woman over 60 – who all seem to have short hair! Were they all conned by the hairdresser? By the way, my daughter donated her long hair to help children with alopecia – a condition that causes your hair to fall out. I’ve suffered from temporary alopecia twice. It’s only when you lose your hair that you realise how deep down vain you can be about hair when you thought you weren’t vain about it at all. It really can define how people see you and how you see yourself.

    • Johanna

      Jen, so commend your daughter for her selfless deed. What a strong, resourceful and socially astute generation we are nurturing:) I am in awe. As you say there seems to be a brigade of women of a certain age all conned by the same breed of hairdresser perhaps! But oh yes nothing like a life crisis to make us aware of not only our immortality but vanity too.

      • Jen I

        Thanks Johanna, I am really proud of her. And even more so because now she’s facing the opposite problem. Hardly any girls her age have short hair. She’s been mistaken for a boy a few times this week. She was upset at first, but now she’s mad. She’s started ranting about stereotypes and how girls of any age should be able to have short hair if they want to. If only we all could have whatever hair we prefer!

        • Johanna

          The world needs more strong girls like your daughter Jen x

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  • Dianna Jane

    The trip to the hairdresser is fraught with stress. From when they leave you with your hair wet and messily dangling unflattering around your badly illuminated face….to when they ask that loaded question…”What are we doing today?” I want glossy bouncy hair that frames my face in a flatteringly kind way, I want to read your crappy magazines that I refuse to by at the checkout for shame of being judged akin to those I judge for buying slabs of water…so shockingly wasteful. I want wine, not coffee served, regardless of the time of day…and I want it done fast. I actually stopped going to a particular hairdresser as I thought they kept giving me “old” hair…I woke up pretty soon after the change of hairdressers, that it was time, not the poor skills of any stylist that was aging me.
    I would love to not care how my hair looks, but it is a deal maker for every single day of my life.
    Shallow? You betcha!

    • Johanna

      It is fraught with stress isn’t it Dianna! Turn off your cellphones, they say, this is a spa-type environment! Hah! I don’t think so. I loved your comments and had a happy afternoon giggle – yes, so true – and yep, I hate to admit it too … caring about hair every day … shallow – I swallow my pride and nod 😉

  • Julie | boobinabox

    I’ve been bald so any hair is good hair in my book! I had shoulder-length hair before chemo, but discovered when it started growing back that short hair really suits me. I’m a bit of a pudgy old boiler, but I totally rock the pixie cut. Sadly it can’t help to hide my turkey neck, but unless I grow a beard (which would be entirely possible) there’s really no hiding that.

    • Johanna

      Hello Julie, Oh I’m so sorry to hear that. I’m really glad that your hair is growing back and it’s great to know that short hair suits you. One of my cousins also rocks the pixie cut and I love it on her. I’m betting that this kind of cut frees up a lot of extra time in your day to do more meaningful things … than curl or blow dry long hair 😉

      • Julie | boobinabox

        Hi Johanna, no need to be sorry, it’s all done and dusted and I have lovely hair again! And you are right about short hair being very freeing – I now know how men can get ready to go anywhere in 5 minutes!

        • Johanna

          I’m so glad Julie … and my hubby would love it if I could do the same!

  • Liz lifedreaming

    Hi Jo
    Great post and I love your writing. My hair has always been a lovely straight bob and 2 years ago I decided to grow all the silver out. For the first few months I looked like I had a landing strip on the top of my head then as it grew out I looked like i had some kind of funky blended hair colour. It’s all grown out now and I ADORE it.

    I’m also on day 13 [lucky for some] of my Energy Adventure and starting a mini 21 day adventure in there to eliminate certain food that I think is making me feel less energetic – and it’s not age that’s slowing me down but things like gluten and sugar.

    We’ll see how that all goes.

    And your hair is fab and you look gorgeous and you’re not invisible.


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    • Johanna

      Hello Liz, Thank you! Your new hairstyle sounds groovy and it’s something that I hope I’ll bite the bullet and do one of these days too. Thanks for sharing with us. Will be interested to hear how your Energy Adventure goes :)

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