The potential to be horrified by your own appearance is endless
Are there any more chilling words in the world of social media than those? That red encircled 1 popping up so cheerily and so innocently on your facebook page on the evening after the party just when you are your most broken and vunerably hungover. Like Renton going cold turkey in Trainspotting, the sickness is in the post. It’s all in the waiting, you know the pain and horror is going to inevitable.
You went the party, you looked ok in the mirror, you had a great time. Everyone looked lovely. You tried to get the pictures out of the way earlier in the evening, but oh no every party you go to someone wants to get the camera out at midnight. So you know, the sickness is the post, or the damming photo of you is just hanging around in cyberspace, every red-eyed, unflattering pixel.
I blame instragram for heightening my expectations of how I might look at midnight after drinking and dancing or indeed catering at a party. All those millions of images of Cara, Rita, Sienna et al all looking so cool and carefree in every crazy pose. We can look just like too can’t we?
Sadly for me the answer is a resounding NO! I have been tagged alright. Tagged pictures of me on Facebook are the equivalent of those alarm charms attached to offenders, impossible to get off and likely to transmit any unwise movements to all and sundry. Oh dear God, who is this scarecrow devoid of make-up grinning manically back at me in this picture? I must have an alter-ego. I did not look like this when I left the house. Bizarrely the less drunk I actually am at the party, the more half cut I look in the photo. In the last picture of me posted recently I seem to be trying to do an impression of Victoria Beckham, all head down and pursed lips, and scowly face. It’s fair to say it’s not a pose that suits me especially not combined with entire contents of Harvey Nicks beauty’s bronzing powder on me. How did this happen I don’t even wear bronzer!
There have been some nice surprises too, I must admit, especially when pictures are taken with “real” cameras, but sadly those days are few and far between now. I know I am being really vain and ridiculously silly about this, I need to lighten up about this, or travel around at all times with a stylist, hair and make up.. mmm actually I like this idea! Hugh Laurie was on Desert Island Discs last week, he said more pictures were taken last year than in the whole of photographic history preceding that. Nothing happens now without pictorial evidence anymore and he thinks it is changing our behaviour. After these recent photos of me, I am inclined to agree. What do you think? How do you feel about the tagged photo? Does it feel you with the same dread? Please let me know what you think.
I have a massive new girl crush. Oh my goodness it has got me bad. But a little bit like the Duchess of Cambridge I have come very late to the party on this one, but judging the comments on Twitter on Oscar Night, many many girls were wanting her to be their new BFF.
Jennifer Lawrence, second youngest winner of an Oscar for Best Actress. She can do no wrong in my eyes. She breezed down the Red Carpet on Sunday night, giggled “(Emma) Stone, your ass is mine” down the E! ManiCam (for those of you who maybe haven’t watched as many Red Carpet events on E! as I have, a mani-cam is a camera especially set up to show off manicures. I am blushing as I type this). She showed Piers Morgan her loser face on CNN, this girl is such a breath of fresh air she even made oily Piers likeable. She then told another Red Carpet reporter that she was starving! Starving.. What A list female celebrity ever admits eating anything, of course to get into those fairytale dresses nothing more substantial than a lemon squeezed into hot water has passed their lips for months. To admit that she eat makes her a goddess to me, well actually that is not right is it? These visions of beauty and youth are held up as modern-day Gods and Goddesses, and hear that Jennifer Lawrence eats makes her human. Real. Normal.
When she had been announced as the Best Actress, she fell up the stairs. She tripped up on her beautiful ivory Dior Couture gown and fell up the stairs on the way to receiving her Golden Statue. She has so much life and spirit that she could say to the packed room of peers giving her a standing ovation something along the lines of you are only being kind to me because you feel sorry for me. I fell in the mud on a Saturday morning run last week, in the woods, and I wept, and I was totally alone, not with the eyes of the world upon me, I have 20 years on Miss Lawrence and I still cried at the indignity of it all.
I will admit that despite loving films as much as I do I have never even seen a Jennifer Lawrence one. Again I blush as I type. She first appeared on my radar on the Red Carpet season two years ago in a stunning Calvin Klein Red body skimming dress that fitted her to perfection. In the parlance of E!Red Carpet presenter walking skeleton Giuliana Rancic she looked “Smokin’ Hot”. Really you might not like the terminology but there is no arguing with the verdict. She had been nominated at 20 for Best Actress for Winter’s Bone. It went on my love film list week. My son has the Hunger Games on dvd. I am already looking forward to a Jennifer Lawrence weekend
And if all of the above wasn’t enough to convince you that Jennifer Lawrence is fun, lively and would be a really great person to party with just watch this clip of her at her post Oscars interview. She seems like my kinda gal.
and I can’t wait to see Silver Linings Playbook. The look she gives Bradley Cooper on the dance floor melts my heart every time (around 2.25 in on the trailer). I am even going again the word of Danny Leigh from Film 2013, the critic I normally hold in the highest esteem. To say he was not a fan of the film is quite an understatement, but it’s testament to the power of Jennifer just this once I am going to overrule him. I will let you know he is right after all.
When Baz Luhrman’s song ‘Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)’ came out in 1999, I was captivated. It was homespun wisdom and every line seemed so pertinent. All except one, the one in the title of this post. “Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.” What nonsense I thought, how do you get to know trends, clothes and looks? How will I find out about my style icons? So I carried on reading.
The song came out before the explosion in celebrity publishing, so there was just the mainstream glossies, brands like Vogue which stretched back in fashion history to THE names like Dior and Coco Chanel. The most gossipy it ever got was the very gentle Women’s Own, which was not on my radar. But there was not the proliferation of periodicals that there are today, there are now so many magazines competing for our attention, that they have to bombard us with meaner and nastier headlines with each issue.
I had always avoided the Mail Online because I thought they were so misogynistic. They appeared to hate every woman they featured. Every woman was either too fat, too thin, too old, too poor, too ostentatious or any combination of the above. But I really thought that they were out there on their own.
I would, also, refuse to read anything about Jordan or Kerry Katona and would bristle when editors trotted out the tired line of “we only put them on the cover because you want to read about them.” I have no interest whatsoever in rubbernecking their car-crash lives.
But everything else I did look at quite happily, thinking that they were designed for my interests with my interests at heart. It was always a pleasure to get a magazine and pore over every detail, often with my sister, comparing and contrasting looks and photos of women we admired.
Being at home with the kids though has meant magazines were no longer a treat I could afford so it was very exciting when a lovely friend gave me some magazines this weekend (Heat and Closer) to pass a long car journey. It had been a long time since I had indulged myself in their glossy pages.
What a shock when I opened them. Nothing, NOTHING could prepare me for the level of hate towards women. One article showed two pictures of Abbey Clancy, one looking model fabulous on a night out then, then absolutely castigating her in a really hateful way for being papped the next day shopping with her daughter. Her crime was NOT being done up to the nines whilst pushing a pram. Why on earth would you have a blow dry, a full face of slap and five inch Louboutins whilst out with your baby? Surely if she was, THAT would be more a problem? Not looking lovely and natural and having a wonderful time with her child (probably after the paps had gone away). Just what message is that sending out?
Every other story was register of measurements. How much someone weighed before, how much they weighed now. What their waist measurements were etc. How the hell can you know how much someone weighs from a photo? Lots of really unflattering photos of people before some miracle diet, and vacuous reality-soap nobodies working out three times a day for the “perfect” body.
This is before I even got to the ‘red circle of shame’ pages. I felt ashamed that we live in a society where women are still only really as good as they are attractive. There is no other criteria and it’s narrowing all the time, women’s bodies being more and more uniform. Super-skinny with breast implants seems to be a depressingly repeated template.
In my youth, I was a very impressionable young person. I have had issues with my body all my life. I never thought I was good enough, that life would only be perfect if I had a perfect body too. I drank in all the media messages, and consequently was very affected by them and really really struggled with body issues and confidence.
I tried every diet, from a very early age which caused more harm than good and led to suffering with eating disorders nearly all my life. I completely bought into the belief that only being a perfect women was good enough and I looked at myself, scrutinised myself minutely, found myself very very wanting and consequently crippled myself with feelings of inadequacy. And this was all in an era before the age of toxic gossip, of mean reporting and of botox and Photoshop.
As I looked at those images of women, and all those messages of condemnation I shuddered to think what is going on in the minds of young girls today. No only do they have to contend with being sexualized earlier and earlier, they are living in a world where cruel scrutiny of their appearance is becoming a national pastime. I cannot bear to think that my beautiful, happy, carefree daughter and her friends are going to slam headlong into this wall of hate in a few years.
So I realised it was true, beauty magazines do make you feel ugly, inside and out. On the surface, in not matching up to the artificial images, but also deep down when you are exposed to a really malicious side of human nature, like the bitchiest girl at school times a hundred.
I am so happy that I discovered this now, that I can be a better role model for my daughter, that I can show her another way, make sure that she can enjoy her appearance, but it is not the be-all and end-all of life. That brains, personality, being a decent human being and not adding to all the misogyny in the world is what really counts, and THIS makes me feel beautiful.
And here is the song again, if you want to be reminded of all its wisdom…