Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Hot and Bothered

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Hot and Bothered

Article excerpt

It's a warm day and I'm getting ready for school. There are three discarded outfits on the bed. They have been rejected because they make me look a) too desperate, b) too old or c) like Jabba the Hutt - none of which are conducive to effective classroom management.

In a mild panic, I try on an oatmeal linen dress. It makes me look like porridge but at least it will feel cool. I do the customary 360-degree twirl. The sight of my backside contoured in crumpled linen prompts me to seek out a second opinion. I find my husband in the kitchen making toast.

"What do you think?" I ask. He shoots me an evaluative glance. "Well?" I say, impatiently.

"It's hard to tell when you're making that weird face," he shrugs.

"What face?" I ask as I study my reflection in the door of the stainless steel fridge. I am giving off the same air of studied detachment as a woman in the middle of a smear test.

"That face you always pull when you ask me what I think of what you're wearing," my husband replies. "Just try to look normal."

I pull another face. Finally, he shakes his head: "Maybe you need some beads."

Saying that a woman "needs some beads" is tantamount to telling her that she needs support tights, a cholesterol-lowering spread and a wimple. It's a euphemism for looking middle-aged, another way of saying that since your hair has the texture of a Brillo pad and your skin is the colour of starch, you require at least three strands of bright baubles around your neck in order to "lift your complexion". …

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