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Posts Tagged ‘fake tan’

My daughter and her all-female class made their First Communions recently. The massed ranks in the church were quite a sight to see. Immaculately coiffed hairdos, amazingly stylish frocks, even a few fake tans.

Yes, the mothers looked stunning. Of course all the little Communicants were beautiful, and they could never be overshadowed by their Mums on their special day. But it has to be said, it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Once I had my gúna purchased, I had thought my own preparations were more or less complete. But in the weeks leading up to the big day, sartorial and cosmetic arrangements were the talk of the playground. Who was wearing what, were the blowdry appointments booked, would the few pounds be shed and had the right shoes and jacket been located?

In spite of myself, I gradually found myself being swept along by all this.

A life-long hater of fake tan, I cautiously purchased a bottle of moisturiser which promised a hint of built-in tint. I slapped it on for a few days and fretted about smelling like a biscuit or ending up with orange palms and elbows. As it turned out, I’d been too cautious; the light shade I had chosen made no discernible difference to my skin colour. I did emit a slight biscuitty fragrance though.

I also bought slightly higher-than-normal-for-me shoes (with wedge heel to enable me to walk) even though I’m not that fussed about shoes. I had the eyebrows threaded. I booked a professional blowdry for my very easy to maintain hair.

I realised I was losing it when, seized by a last-minute anxiety about being out-glammed in the church, I began desperately experimenting with different make-up the day before the Communion. Confronted by the slightly scary results in the bathroom mirror, I told myself to get a grip. After all, it wasn’t about me.

Well, we all love dressing up, don't we?

The maternal glamour quotient was extremely high the next morning –  noticeably higher than at my son’s Communion four years ago – and I was glad I’d made the extra effort. Though I did wonder who we were all trying to impress. Each other? The viewers of the family photos in years to come? Was it significant that it was our daughters making their Communions – were we subconsciously trying to compete with them? Surely not.

Of course, on the day our daughters were the stars of the show. Every parent’s heart was full of pride as the girls sang their well rehearsed hymns, brought up gifts and did readings. Whatever your feelings about the First Communion ritual (and stepping back from it a little, the white dresses and the cash gifts are a bit odd really) it was difficult not to be moved by the innocent seriousness with which they took it all.

A wonderful day – and the photos turned out well. Phew.

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I had a horrifying brush with misogyny the other day. Out on the town with a group of women I was sharing a friend’s birthday with, I encountered a rush of disdain and disparagement towards my glammed-up companions I was not quite expecting and didn’t know how to handle … because it was coming from me.

I’m not good with the whole Girls’ Night Out thing, generally. I don’t like to categorise my friends by gender, or segregate them in social settings in case De Boys try to mate with De Girls. Just because we share a certain physical blueprint doesn’t mean we have anything at all in common, after all. I find, too, that when there are plans for a Girls Night Out, there is a certain leaning towards inviting along women you wouldn’t usually socialise with, just to make up the numbers – sisters of friends, daughters of neighbours, ex-girlfriends of troublesome future brothers-in-law, all swept into the same cocktail bar in a sort of unintentional, uncomfortable celebration of womanhood that begins and ends with fragile smiles and scornful texts home. There was something of that in my recent night out; the birthday girl had collected quite a hodge-podge of ladies, only two of whom I’d met before (and only one of those I’d had a conversation with). I can be quite the chameleon when I feel like it, though, so I wasn’t too worried about fitting in. There’s always common ground somewhere, and I could always do what I did on the last hen night I was at – inadvertently but mortally insult the groom’s sister and thus become the evening’s entertainment.

But there was no common ground.

Not even lowest-common-denominator ground.

I don’t subscribe to the girly model – rosé, make-up counters, Sex And The City – although some of my close friends do, and we still find plenty to talk about. I’m not gay, into Converse, or hopelessly addicted to reality tv, but I still manage to have a best friend who’s all three. It is an entirely new experience for me to find myself surrounded by aliens, in other words – it’s not like I expect to only get along with people exactly like me in every way – and yet I was, out in the city, with pretty and vivacious sorts who were all around my age, but utterly alone. We were all of the same cultural background – we all watched the same sitcoms growing up, all loved the same 90s bands, all well aware that Deirdre Barlow hadn’t a criminal bone in her body. And yet I couldn’t find a single thing to talk about with my new companions, no gap in their inane codswallop to hitch sense to, and scramble into. In fact, it wasn’t so much lack of common ground. These women were idiots.

I know, Jesus, I know. I shouldn’t call other people idiots; we’re all capable of idiocy, but the odd pratfall into brainlessness doesn’t make you a lost cause. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to look good, whatever shade of “good” you go for. Being bright orange, wearing a paint pot of mascara on your fake eyelashes, and pumping and trussing your breasts up to your chin doesn’t mean you’re of but modest intelligence, as celebrity glamour models never tire of telling us. Aspiring to nothing but being bright orange, wearing a paint pot of mascara on your fake eyelashes, and pumping and trussing your breasts up to your chin probably does, though; style is an embellishment to a personality, not an alternative to one. And embellishments and improvements to a personality all too deftly hidden were all these girls could talk about – I want my boobs done, I want my arse waxed, I want my nose fixed, I want to meet a footballer in Lanzarote and pose for Maxim and wear a tiara up to the chandeliers when our wedding is covered in Ok! Oh look! My knickers match my dress! I’ve always believed that there must be something ticking away behind the facade of the dolly bird – it takes a healthy bank balance to keep one in designer claws and bottles of WKD, after all – but I honestly could find nothing at all to latch on to with these ladies, no topic of conversation we could all get behind without anyone’s brains leaking out her eye sockets.

The thing that upset me most is that these ladies were of the same social class as myself (how outdated does that sound? Social class!). We were all working class, urban girls … exactly the kind of girls one might expect to act like lipglossed ninnies. It was like coming across a pocket of prejudices in the middle of your PC conscience, or like meeting a tribe of savages on an expedition to save the rainforest. I used to loftily insist that girls like that didn’t exist outside of dance music videos or Big Brother buffoonery, and it was a nasty, unwelcome shock to find them congregating, dim as you like, in the real world. And, like the hitherto optimistic explorer in the jungle paradise, I wanted to run from the savages. What’s the point in trying to woo the headhunters? You’ll only lose your head.

Not having the option of running away, I drank myself stupid instead. Which wasn’t a stereotypically idiotic action to take at all. But what else is there to do when you’ve just choked on your own politics?

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Lately it seems like I’ve been stuck in a rut. My apathy knows no bounds. I come home from work with great intentions to clean my hovel of a flat and even whilst faced with the yawning abyss that is my kitchen sink, I somehow can’t seem to find the motivation. (Well now, I’m thinking, if I can’t find the motivation to get my mottled ass in shape and run around the park that is literally outside my sitting room window, how the hell am I supposed to care about the dishes?)

As I’ve mentioned somewhere before, my mother’s advice to me when I go into one of my black troughs is to keep shaving my legs and putting my face on (I swear she’s not Patsy or Eddie from Absolutely Fabulous).

I was brought up to make the best of what I’ve got, which means brushing your hair, putting an outfit together and never leaving the house without make-up. I used to be like this. I was the teenager who suggested we put more lipstick on my (beloved) granny’s corpse in the funeral home because she too loved her slap and would have been disappointed that the mortician chose a nude shade for her lip colour; I’m the girl who a few years ago had to buy a third, count ‘em, GHD because I had blown up two previously from overuse.

Makeover time on America's Next Top Model

Makeover time on America

Pah! It makes me ashamed to see how I’ve let myself slip. Somehow, without realising, I’ve sunk into a slow decline, where I’ve paid less and less attention to myself and gotten very used to being invisible. I suppose over the past two years I’ve had a job where my colleagues were almost entirely men (computer geeks) and a boyfriend who didn’t care too much for putting on the glad rags and somehow it all seemed to rub off on me.

Last weekend it felt like a bell rang in my head. I went out on Friday night, got very enjoyably pissed with friends and socialised with strangers, something I hadn’t done in a very, very long time. When I woke the next day, with a hangover, it really did feel like a bell was ringing in there. Still, I got up, cleaned the house from top to bottom, washed the car, then got into it and drove to Dundrum in my worn-out, greying clothes. I stocked up on jeans, a new top, shoes, Cons, cheapo jewellery and a shiny, shiny handbag.

The following day, I dressed myself in my new wares, stuck Fleet Foxes in the stereo and went to do the recycling. I felt great. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I had actually ‘made an effort’ and it made me feel good about myself. I was smiling to myself as I lugged the recycling to the giant bins. Then a man, total stranger, took the bag of papers out of my hands and emptied it into the bin for me. I swear I nearly swooned. And the man was 60. But still, Jesus, it reminded me of the wisdom in my mother’s words. I may even try some fake tan this week.

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