I did not wake up like this: on beauty & lies


I’m a bit fed up of being made to feel ugly.
It’s not by anyone who actually knows me or sees me, I should add – but, like any dutiful 21-centurion, I care not for these opinions and choose instead to listen to the advertisers, manufacturers and purveyors of all things ‘female’.

This morning whilst attempting to remove my ‘tangle teezer’ from the jaws of my bed head, I heard a knock at the door. The postman, with a much-anticipated parcel. I couldn’t face the world unfinished, but if he left, I’d have to drive 10 miles later to collect it.
In a panic, I caught myself lamenting the fact that I wasn’t one of those ‘natural beauties’ who wakes up glossy and ready for their #wakeupselfie, and then I remembered; those girls do not exist.

I forgot at first because it’s tough to let go of the dream we’ve been sold our whole lives – the dream of waking up every single morning with a messy updo, flawless baby skin, neck-down alopecia and a radiant, orgasmic glow.
It seems so achievable, too! Just buy that latest beauty thingamy and you’ll be there. Oh actually you need this special cream too, (except we’re calling it ‘perfecting fluid’ now so you don’t confuse it with the last tub of gloop we flogged you).
What’s that, you’re still not perfect? Well, it’s working for all the other women, dontyouknow. You must be lazy and somehow inherently flawed. Imagine how ugly you’d be if you didn’t make this much effort! Better buy some extra products, quick.

No, nobody wakes up every morning flawless, because it takes time and effort that we don’t have to spare; energy that quite frankly could be far better used on activities such as hoovering, eating cake and reducing the national debt.
& even if such a girl did exist, the media & marketers would quickly invent another problem (cankles/thigh gaps/cellulite/bingo wings/resting bitch face/any other anatomical descriptor that 1000 years of medicine has not needed a name for, but the Daily Mail has coined regardless) to put her in her place. No longer a slave to the kitchen, we’re now chained to the bathroom sink, and we’re told it’s pampering, indulgent and fun.

Would you rather, on balance, squat on the cold bathroom floor tiles and rip your leg hair out with wax, or do as your boyfriend gets to and lie on the sofa downstairs listening to music?
Which sounds more like pampering to you?
(I once dated a man who told me ponytails & updos were ‘a waste of women with long hair’, so I wore mine down for four years, even when eating pasta. I only have myself to blame for this stupidity, on both counts.)


I should say, I really am not anti- all beauty products; there are a select few that I religiously buy and use and love, because they do what they say and they make me feel nice. I’m planning on writing about those soon, but I couldn’t do so without getting all of this off my (no doubt insufficiently pneumatic) chest first.

We’re supposed to grow hair on our bodies; we’re supposed to age and bruise and have cellulite and sweat and get rough skin on our feet when we walk a lot. This is what natural beauty looks like for women; the only people who wake up silky smooth & hairless are children, & as gorgeous as Orla is, I do not wish to look like her now. It would, for one thing, greatly impinge on my gin-purchasing liberties.

& finally, while I’m at it, can I just add that there’s nothing wrong with cuticles growing as they do? I humbly suggest that anything that requires me to rub oil in them, jab at them with pointy wooden sticks and then CUT them might actually be the real problem here. It took a professional manicurist making me bleed into a fresh polish for this to register in my foolish, beauty-poisoned brain. .

I am sure you already know all of this; I sort of knew it too, but it’s something else to truly believe it, and to even internalise it a little bit.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be truly cured of my beauty poisoning, but that’s ok. It’s ok to shave your legs and wear eyeliner whilst loathing the toxic patriarchal bullshit that makes you want to, I think.
But as a ‘pretty girl’ who posts pretty pictures, it seems important to be clear here: I wake up just like the supermodels do; completely, flawfully human.