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How can I look nice again : marriage ending, 40s and feeling fugly

(94 Posts)
strongurgetofly Mon 30-Dec-13 06:25:19

Hi all I'm a regular name changer!
My marriage has come to an end and may self esteem is on the floor after years of neglect!
I'm 41, perimenopausal, other health problems which cause chronic pain plus two small children and working 3 days per week.
I have coarse curly/knotty dry hair which always needs root touch up no matter how often I dye it.

I have age spots and wrinkles, the beginnings of jowls and a crepey neck and cleavage. People always tell me how tired I look, I'm still sharing a bedroom with my 'h' (but not a bed) and I stay up late every night until I'm sure he's asleep and I have trouble with insomnia.
My upper eyelids are very puffy which is a byproduct of my illness but makes me look older and more tired.

I have a grey front tooth following root canal surgery and no amount of cosmetic bleaching can change it.
My boobs are saggy little sacks and my belly is an overstretched mess.

The chronic pain and inflammation makes waxing /epilation difficult and I rarely have time or energy to pamper myself.

I am at least half a stone overweight and only 5 feet tall so every pound counts., my arse and thighs are huge and my feet are dry and cracked.

I have much younger sisters who are stunning and I work with some very beautiful women. I used to be a 'headturner' and pretty low maintenance. I just don't know where to start. I have no time, energy or money.
In short I feel like a dried-up snaggle toothed husk.

Please help me out with a starting point, I need to get out of this rut.

PastaandCheese Mon 30-Dec-13 07:05:12

OP I'm sure you are making this out to be worse than it is..... I'm sure you can pull it all back.

There's a lot of questions there and there are some really knowledgable ladies who can help but in their absence I'll add my thoughts.

Half a stone is nothing. I work with a lady who is 5ft. I'm 5,7 and I'd need to lose 1.5 stone to drop a dress size. I am constantly amazed at her ability to transform herself in a matter of weeks. Check out the weight loss board and consider low carb or 5:2 and you could drop half a stone in weeks.

I'm not an insomniac so I don't know what that is like but perhaps a bit more fresh air and exercise would help with that? I did couch to 5k last year and it was fab for making me feel fitter and healthier. Perhaps it would help you sleep too and improve your skin?

Do you get on well with your sisters? If they have an eye for fashion perhaps they could take you to the sales for a few new things? You could start a thread on here about updating your wardrobe and people will pitch in with ideas for a capsule wardrobe.

It sounds like you need a bra intervention. Have you read those threads? I bet you are in the wrong size......?

I really hope 2014 is a better year for you OP.

BitchyHen Mon 30-Dec-13 07:07:15

Strong I really feel for you. I split with xh three years ago and had to continue sharing a house with him for a while it was awful. Any chance of this changing soon? Living with someone you don't love anymore really kills your self esteem.
I know how the insomnia and chronic pain feels too. I find I'm exhausted in the evening and awake around 3-4 am. Any chance you could go to bed first to get some sleep in during the early part of the night?
Apart from that I'd suggest some form of pampering for yourself, a new lipstick, some deep conditioner for your hair, whatever makes you feel good.

ToffeeWhirl Mon 30-Dec-13 07:32:12

strongurge - I'm sorry you're going through such a difficult time and feeling so low. I would recommend having your colours done by House of Colour, then going shopping for new clothes. I went for a colour analysis in December and am now building a wardrobe based on colours that suit me. The session also covered make up, so I now have more flattering lipstick and blusher. If you wear the right colours for your skin tone, it is very flattering - minimises lines and bags under the eyes, warms up your skin tone, etc.

House of Colour also do a style day and a half-day on make up.

What you are going through must be incredibly upsetting and stressful and it must be so difficult to find time for yourself with work and two young children. Is there any way you could carve out a little bit of time for yourself every week? Maybe to meet up with a good friend (one who doesn't tell you that you look tired, maybe!)?

FrugalFashionista Mon 30-Dec-13 07:38:21

OP, could you see your GP about the insomnia or talk with your ex to change the sleeping arrangements? It might be easier to deal with the other things when you feel better rested.

I'm your age and right now it seems that it's not easy to be effortlessly pretty - I feel I'm becoming more invisible. It's both good and bad. My advice would be, be as kind and gentle to yourself as you can. Right now it's all about surviving and slowly figuring out who you really are and what you really want.

strongurgetofly Mon 30-Dec-13 08:09:34

Oh you lovely women thanks so much for your early morning replies!
I wrote a huge reply to all your points but my fingees/phone malfunctioned and I lost the reply before posting. I can't write much now because of the kids.

I have a great wardrobe following a HoC type consultation last year. I know my colours and shape but am getting too fat for any of the clothes plus I can't be bothered to accessorise.
I also followed the beach intervention threads (32dd) but could only afford one bra!

I'm working on the living arrangements but 'h' is in denial so I'm trying to do it all on my own and the Christmas period isn't great for this process.

I got sleeping tablets from GP but was only allowed 14 which have now run out.

I have to dash now for children, sorry I lost all the individual replies to you.

strongurgetofly Mon 30-Dec-13 08:46:36

I think part of the problem is comfort eating and the knowledge that my husband didn't find me attractive.

Bonsoir Mon 30-Dec-13 08:56:15

Deal with your feet. Humans receive many sensations through their feet - soft, properly cared for feet will make every step more pleasurable.

Can you get a professional pedicure to get started?

FuckItLifeIsTooShort Mon 30-Dec-13 08:58:37

I could have written your post op, except i am three stone overweight and nearly ten years older! My h has moved out though we did have six months or so of living together when children did not know. That was bad for everything, a horrible time I hope you get sorted.

My new year plan, stop alcohol when on own (you don't mention that so perhaps does not apply to you, I have chronic pain and while alcohol should make no difference it does, I have done some 'practise' dry nights and I am sure I hurt less the next day).

Having stopped alcohol (almost ��) I am going to address diet, reducing carbs is my next thing. Seriously these two things will make a difference to how I look and may do for you too?

Short term, find a light reflecting foundation that matches skin tone, a blusher or bronzer that looks natural. A semi perm colour, even if close to your own hair colour will soften hair. The Pantene colour saving conditioner in a tube is as good as some very expensive ones.

Getting rid of the dead weight sharing your bedroom should be top of your list but I know it is not that easy. 2014 will be better...

strongurgetofly Mon 30-Dec-13 09:01:44

Bonsoir that's a lovely idea. I'm craving physical affection although I have lots of cuddles with the children. I lost a lot of weight after my second child and the husband still ignored me which is why I paid for style and colour consultation.

I have very broad shoulders and a small head plus a visible curvature of the spine which is why I've kept my hair long, but it's so much work because I'm in poor health my hair condition has suffered.

arfishy Mon 30-Dec-13 09:17:05

I'm in the same situation as you OP (except I'm older!) and I lost several dress sizes last year. I found it absolutely liberating and I know it has stuck in DP's throat (he hasn't mentioned my weight loss once and has gained many of the kilos I lost).

I won't deny that it wasn't hard but I stopped comfort eating, ditched the wine, stuck to 1200 calories each day and went to the gym.

I am so much happier for having done it and feel more in control.

If you only have half a stone to lose then you can do that easily and with it your self esteem will grow.

Can you get a keratin treatment for your hair, or a straightener? My hair used to be lovely (well, in comparison) in the UK but in Australia it's a frizzy mess because of the humidity. I have to use irons here but they do make my hair look much better.

Healthy living and lots of water will help improve your complexion - is there anything you can get to help with the puffy eyes?

I bet with a great outfit, good hair and make up and good self-esteem your tooth won't be noticeable.

So for a starting point - good food and exercise (walking will do but some resistance training will tone you, it doesn't have to be gym based). You have such a small amount of weight to lose you will get a win very quickly and feel great about yourself. If you've already got a good wardrobe then you're halfway there.

cupcake78 Mon 30-Dec-13 09:17:45

You sound like you've hit or are on your way to rock bottom. This is a horrible place to be but can be used to make changes.

Firstly get your hair done! You wear your hair each day and it can make such a difference to how to feel. Think about the colour, maybe it's too dark now if your having to get your routes done so often. Dark hair can also be harsh on your skin colour. Find a good hairdresser and go for it!

Secondly you start to think about losing weight. It's getting started that's the really hard bit. I have a lot to lose and am gearing up to starting in a matter of days. I've started having lemon water each morning, no alcohol and no carbs with two of my main meals. Processed foods have gone!

Are you able to do much exercise or is this a struggle? Maybe swimming or a short walk would help you feel more positive.

Get your dh out your house ASAP! Where he goes is his problem, your priority is the children and they require a home. How you ladies live with your partners after you've split up I will never know. I couldn't stand to look at mine.

strongurgetofly Mon 30-Dec-13 09:26:33

* FuckItLifeIsTooShort* great post thanks. I don't know if i could do 6 months in the same house. He's doing my nut in! It's difficult because he works long irregular hours so if he's on earlies he's in bed way before I'm ready and if he's on nights he's in the room most of the day so I can't take time getting ready etc. It is nice when he's on nights at least I have the house to myself but I'm too fucked to do anything in the evenings!

Sorry to hear about your pain as well. I don't think sugar or gluten help but I have been drawn to both with a vengeance! Alcohol isn't really great for me, I tend to overdo it and lose inhibitions and I have decided that during this split I will only drink in moderation ie one or two glasses before I start feeling reckless and end up in a state!

I will look out for the pantene conditioner, I've never heard of it!

Plumpysoft Mon 30-Dec-13 09:43:52

Kerastase masque intense is the only thing I have ever found that changes the texture of my hair from wire wool tangles to something silky. I think a pedicure is a great idea, really makes you feel so much better. I would also recommend a makeover at a Mac counter. It's £25 I think which is redeemable against products and you just won't believe how beautiful they make you look! Wishing you lots of love x

Saurus72 Mon 30-Dec-13 09:48:54

A few specific recommendations:

Feet - Flexitol foot cream twice a day for 10 days will transform them - not bad for £10.

Hair - a quick fix might be Aussie 3 Minute Miracle. I had a similar issue with my hair due to an illness and 3MM really helped it be less straw-like.

Make-up. I don't think make-up's transformative powers can be over-estimated. If I had to look at my newborn rabbit eyes and deathly pale dace in the mirror every day I would feel totally defeated. If you're feeling crap, and have insomnia a bit of colour in your cheeks can only make you look better, while you can start to work on actually feeling better. So, at a minimum, foundation/tinted moisturiser, loose powder, blusher, mascara and lipgloss, plus possibly under eye concealer and eyeliner. Bobbi Brown/MAC if you can stretch to it, Body Shop/No 7 if not. MUA at Suoerdrug if really no money. I do think some make up is essential for the vast majority of women past early 30s. A quick 5 minute routine every morning can't help but make you look better.

Good luck fsmile

strongurgetofly Mon 30-Dec-13 10:48:31

Thanks all so much information and support. It's interesting how many people stay in the same house as 'partners' after the split. If it weren't for the children and the mortgage I'd be gone like a shot. He's doing my nut in and it drags me down!
Sadly we don't have a MAC counter here, the nearest one is nearly 2 hours away! The closest we have is benefit. Tbh I have lovely make up and pretty much know what I'm doing but I just can't get it together.

I have hit rock bottom a few times in this relationship, I truly be I'm on the way up and out but it's just this stage of the journey that's really tricky, I know if I felt less hideous I'd be able to hold my head higher.

ShineyBlackShoes Mon 30-Dec-13 10:53:01

Bio-oil is meant to be great for age spots. I am using it to help heal some facial surgical scars, and have been using it on my neck too and it appears less crepey: a little bit but it all helps.

The bottle last ages so worth to price.

hermionepotter Mon 30-Dec-13 10:57:28

OP once things are better on practical/emotional level you'll feel better anyway, but s&b things:
start regular exercise - DVD/ running/ join gym/long walks - what ever you can afford and enjoy. this will really improve your self esteem

eva fraser face exercises (book on amazon)
take a mulitvitamin
drink more water and cut back on carbs (more protein)
get sleep

above all just be really kind to yourself as much as possible

good luck

ChristmasStrumpet Mon 30-Dec-13 11:10:26

Am in a bit of a rush but your thread resonated with me because you sound like I feel. Just quickly wanted to say....

I am also 41, 5ft but currently 2 1/2 stone over weight. For me bread and pastries are what make me fat. I get the same full feeling from porridge and can loose significant weight by changing this alone. Its a small simple change that wont get all my weight off its a small change with good fast results. Obviously a healthy eating plan or a diet club and excercise will get more off in the long run but this for me is the lazy way to shift a few pounds with minimum effort.

I have horrendous feet. I bought a Soap and Glory foot file after all the threads on here recommended it. It is fab. When I actually put the effort in and use it for a few minutes on my feet daily the results are amazing. I use it before my bath or shower then smother my feet with a rich moisturiser and put bed socks on and leave it to soak in. A few weeks of this and the difference is amazing. My problem is keeping it up.

Hair colour - in recent years I have found a fab hairdresser. She has transformed my root issue by not doing a solid colour on my hair (she refuses to do this). I have foils for my colour and use 3 or 4 shades/colours along with my natural and grey. This means when it grows out the roots are alot less obvious than when having a solid colour.

Deathwatchbeetle Mon 30-Dec-13 11:23:38

Sorry to hear your news but this could mean that 2014 is your year for self improvement-not because the waste of space does not find you attractive (bet he is no George Clooney or Johnny Depp!) but because YOU are worth investing time and (some) money in

If you cannot afford a hairdresser and are not sure what t do yourself see if there is a local beauty school/hairdressing academy which lets trainees practice (supervised). You might also get a facial and /or mani and pedi there too! Most salons have occasional free/very cheap dates when a trainee wants a model.

Depending on our colouring go for the cheeriest colour you can . It can double up as blusher too if you want to save some money. 2true and MUA in superdrug have cheap make up. MUA in particular is fab!! Concentrate on foundation and concealer if you have stuff like age spots to cover up.

If you need any help look on you tube re mature make up tutorials, or ask a sales assistant to give you a new look (you don't need to buy anything though I guess they will try to encourage you!!!).

polyhymnia Mon 30-Dec-13 11:31:01

Just a few small practical suggestions.

As others have said, you won't take long to lose half a stone.

Meanwhile, if you've already identified your ideal bra, buy a new one. It's worth the investment

After that, next thing is hair, I reckon. Those (your hair and your bra) are the two things that are with you all the time. Find a really good hairdresser, explain the problems and ask them to sort cut and colour - even if it means a complete change. Better to do this than spend money on expensive home treatments, IMO. Ask for a consultation with one or more new hairdressers so you can decide if you'd get on and they are listening to you.

Also sort feet. If it's just dry skin, Flexitol will do the trick as long as you put it on every day/ night. If anything else, go to a chiropodist initially rather than a beauty salon for a pedicure - they'll get rid of all the hard skin, etc and leave you with lovely soft and super comfortable feet.

I also think your dentist should be able to advise on the grey tooth - or, if not, I'd change my dentist. Don't think they should just expect you to accept that nowadays. I've had root canal on 2 or3 teeth and they don't look grey.

You're obviously already well clued up on clothes and make up. Only tip I have there is that, if applying mascara seems to much faff, get lashes - and brows if necessary - tinted.

On 'age spots', there are lots of products now aimed at this very problem. I use Clarins Vital Light which is good but there are lots of more reasonably priced versions available you could find in medium sized Boots. I'm sure L'Oreal do one, for example. Again, it's just a case of using regularly.

While in Boots, a good multivitamin and mineral tablet - eg, Multibionta -certainly wouldn't do any harm.

Agree on necessity of lots of water - and some sort of exercise, for the endorphins.

Good luck.

Pigsinablanket Mon 30-Dec-13 11:53:59

Sorry to hear you are having such a hard time. I second the above posters, soap and glory foot file and flexitol are miracle workers.
Is there any way you could change sleeping arrangements, get the kids to share for a while and you could have your own space ? I know if I'm not sleeping well or enough the world seems a darker place. I've also tried Bach remedies night rescue ....I'm normally sceptical about herbal/ homeopathic remedies but this really seems to work for me.
What about going for a walk in your lunch break on the days you work? half an hour 3 times a week would really help with your low mood, give you time to think and help drop the pounds.
Your dentist should be able to help with a veneer or crown to mask the discoloured front tooth. Good luck

strongurgetofly Mon 30-Dec-13 12:02:40

* polyhymnia* I'm on the way out now will take it all in later, I have some boots vouchers. Just as an aside, galvanised by everyone's suggestions I put on make up today and was reminded what puts me off doing it more often: it's my big droopy upper eyelids (under the brow) they are so fat and they smudge everything from eyeliner to shadow and mascara. It is so minor but it really gets me down

Funny enough I'm the most image conscious of all my friends, most of whom only wear make up on high days and holy days. I've always been the one who made the effort for nights out while everyone else is in jeans, jumpers and trainers or docs. I do enjoy dressing down as well but I think as I get older I need to make more effort to get the same effect!

strongurgetofly Mon 30-Dec-13 12:02:57

* polyhymnia* I'm on the way out now will take it all in later, I have some boots vouchers. Just as an aside, galvanised by everyone's suggestions I put on make up today and was reminded what puts me off doing it more often: it's my big droopy upper eyelids (under the brow) they are so fat and they smudge everything from eyeliner to shadow and mascara. It is so minor but it really gets me down

Funny enough I'm the most image conscious of all my friends, most of whom only wear make up on high days and holy days. I've always been the one who made the effort for nights out while everyone else is in jeans, jumpers and trainers or docs. I do enjoy dressing down as well but I think as I get older I need to make more effort to get the same effect!

GinSoakedBitchyPony Mon 30-Dec-13 12:46:13

OP I don't think I've got much to add to the great advice.
I was your age when my exH and I decided to divorce, and we had to live together for the first 6 months. Was hell. It soon showed on my face. But within 5 days of me moving into my own place I looked so much better, proof to my own eyes of how stressful it was living together apart.
I think you're being very hard on yourself in some ways, overscrutinising etc. You're saying your upper eyelids are 'fat'. It's more likely to be a side effect of ageing, our eyelids tend to become more hooded (ie droopy!) as we get into our early 40's.
Definitely try to eat healthier, that will make you look and feel better, and get some daily exercise.
Good luck!

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