Rarely has a book made me laugh out loud, however when I was a decade younger and living near London, a book made me snort very loudly on the tube. That book was Bridget Jones’ Diary, and the offending paragraph read as follows:
“Being a woman is worse than being a farmer, there is so much harvesting and crop spraying to be done: legs to be waxed, underarms shaved, eyebrows plucked, feet pumiced, skin exfoliated and moisturised, spots cleansed, roots dyed, eyelashes tinted, nails filed, cellulite massaged, stomach muscles exercised.
The whole performance is so highly tuned you only need to neglect it for a few days for the whole thing to go to seed. Sometimes I wonder what I would be like if left to revert to nature — with a full beard and handlebar moustache on each shin, Dennis Healey eyebrows, face a graveyard of dead skin cells, spots erupting, long curly fingernails like Struwelpeter, blind as bat and stupid runt of species as no contact lenses, flabby body flobbering around. Ugh ugh. Is it any wonder girls have no confidence?”
The reason this text made me cough up a chunk of laughter so unexpectedly, and so violently, is because it’s so bloody true. It’s like being on a cross trainer that you’re not allowed to get off of, for the rest of your life.
I’m not sure when this bloody endless cycle of tweezing, shaving, and colouring in starts, but it seems to become more intense with every year that passes. What probably started out as a vague curiosity about that red stuff in the shiny tube on mummy’s dressing table morphs exponentially, until a trip to boots takes as long and costs as much as one of those mini breaks Ms Jones was so fond of.
Then there’s grooming for special occasions, which requires even more work.
Preparation for a big one (date that is) can sometimes commence as early as two days before, if there’s tanning involved. Hair alone probably requires as many as three or four different processes, skin must be scrubbed and buffed and tanned and moisturised, more hair here, less hair there, these dark bits need lightening whereas those light bits need darkening….
We are basically transforming ourselves from a manatee to a mermaid, and this transformation is hard fucking work.
Needless to say it takes women significantly longer to get ready than it takes you men to talc your balls. Keep this in mind next time you consider not turning up.
It’s expensive too, being female. The average woman in the UK spends a massive £140,000 on cosmetics during her lifetime, according to this article in the Independent.
I spend a huge amount of cash on products that make various claims, from hair thickening to wrinkle reducing, but at the end of the day, I’m still me.
And that’s the sad point. Advertising and the mass media have us all convinced that just being you isn’t good enough.
You’re too pale, too fat, too short, your hair’s wrong. And you are aging too – how vile!
So we carry the weight of shame on our too broad shoulders, because we don’t look the same as those images of women that take teams of lighting, make up and photoshop experts hours to achieve.
We’re chasing a body ideal that isn’t even real. It’s exhausting.
Ironically, I feel most beautiful when I’m traveling in some exotic land, with not a scrap of make up on. If I could just sever the ties the beauty industry has me bound with, £140 large would certainly pay for some nice holidays…