Date preparation – then and now

This weekend saw a get together, in the teeniest of country towns, under the auspices of the infamous ‘Girls Weekend’ of a bunch of girls whose worlds had first collided in a working class suburb of Melbourne some 30+ years ago. Since we first met we had borne every bad hairstyle of the 80s, our fair share of fashion hits and misses, a dozen children (with a spectacular lack of contribution on my part), and we now represented every available relationship status offered by Facebook. Shenanigans were contained to only overindulgences in a tremendous home-made lasagne and Woolworths lamingtons, though there was a slight brush with the law when my arrival complicated things by inexplicably getting us locked out of our accommodation. This resulted in two of us having to traipse down the road and plead with the local constabulary (me aghast at having no shoes on and appearing only in stockinged feet) to call the owner to allow us entry back in again. About as close as I want to get to Lindsay Lohan when it comes to undignified legal entanglements.


There is nothing like a catchup with the besties that have been your friends since Primary School to lay on a little bit of reminiscing about times past. As one of them opined about how they didn’t envy those on the dating scene again at our age we were drawn in, as girls so often are when softened by a little white wine and sunshine, to debate whether it was easier then or now.

Honing in on the theme of date preparation, most were on the side of it being far easier back in the day. Debate ensued. And over a veritable volcano of Philly Cheese erupting sweet chilli sauce over Savoys, here’s the collective wisdom of those gals when it comes to first date prep – then and now.


Back in the day, it was enough to sit in the bath, taking in the ambience of a mosaic of brown and beige tiles, listening to one of these

cassette tape

and applying the seventy-seven kinds of chemicals (none of them actually carcinogenic, but certainly tested without regard to the welfare of our animal friends) that were present in Palmolive’s high end leave-in conditioner.

From there a vent brush

vent brush---2

was applied to wrangle that 80s perm into something that would never resemble natural hair. It was almost always necessary to hold the hair up and SPRAY EVERY SINGLE SUCKER in place with a grim abandon knowing that tomorrow you’d feel like a sticky Pop Tart had taken up residence in your hair. But, people, that was tomorrow’s problem. The fact that a can of Silhouette lacquer could be used to stop a huntsman spider in its tracks by clagging up its legs and spakfilling its breathing apparatus was just a well-understood side-benefit.

It it didn’t stick – fry in it place with a crimper.

crimped hair

Today, you need to either emulate Jen Aniston’s flat-ironed locks or the Victoria’s Secret runway curls, neither of which can ever be achieved in your own home, and will therefore require a pre-planned hairdresser visit and the presentation of an appropriately bolstered credit card.


Back in the day, eye colour came in a crème pot, and once Lady Diana started rocking the blue eyeshadow and started crayoning a matching blue to her inner eyelids, we knew that doing the same placed us only a moment away from finding our own Prince.

blue eyeliner diana

We all conveniently overlooked that her prince was actually the uninspiring Charles and re-oriented ourselves to trapping George Michael via his endorsement of peacock eye-shadow.

blue eyeshadow

(it took many more albums and a number of tabloid articles before we realised that George Michael was not going to end up our Prince either….. Not sure why we didn’t realise earlier…)

or gloves

Back then, we could leave eyebrows completely unattended, to the point where, following the influence of Brooke Shields, we could pretty much allow beings the size of two mutant furry caterpillars to roam our foreheads at will.

Brooke Shields Eyebrows

Now we must allow overpriced beauticians to apply boiling wax to our eyebrows and tear out all those errant hairs with careless abandon, at about the price of $1.50 per hair (depending on how hirsute you are)


In the early 80s, the word pedicure was about as well used as the word sun-dried tomato. You painted on successive layers of Cutex until a chisel was required, then you started over.

These days, it starts at your feet. Any woman in her 40s that has gained a few kilos, knows that the fastest way to improve your BMI is to wear super-high heels. If you are in the Southern Hemisphere, your new year’s resolution to MEET SOMEOME will likely mean that your high heel of choice is going to be a strappy sandal – which means your toes need to be in order.

Whilst tarting up your feet is going to be inexpensive due to the invasion of cheap nail salons, it’s not without its level of discomfort, especially if you are a runner like me, whose feet have a more tenuous grip on their surface than a truck with the cheapest of budget retreads

Despite my apologies to the ladies, there is a twittering that goes on when they spy my feet that makes me think that this insidious new eruption of cheap nail salons comes with its own ‘Klingon’ style language. It’s disturbing, and although they are inclined to sometimes trumpet reassuringly at random ‘you so skeennny’, nothing can make me feel good about all this.


These days, its about exfoliation, fake tan and some kind of sparkly skin cream that allows you all the shimmer and tan of a stint in the Bahamas without lapsing into something that suggests you’ve emerged from the local Tandoori restaurant’s oven and rolled into a field of glitter.

Back then, you did a bit of an Aapri scrub, and, if he was special, you splashed some Reef Oil sunscreen into your bath water and swanned around for the rest of the evening like an overheated pina colada, all the while giving off a whiff of Arpege.


In short? We think it might have been a little easier back in the day. But I think it might take another Girls Weekend, with obligatory carbs and vino, with only a fleeting visit from the constabulary if we REALLY DESERVE IT, to figure out the answer for sure.

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