Thursday, 14 April 2011

Mother of the Bride (5)

I went out this morning without make-up, wishing for a Harry Potter cloak and casting envious glances at muslim sisters in their burka and niqab. I have worn a full make-up since I was twelve; every day using foundation, blusher and mascara. I don't know how I got away with it as girls were not allowed to wear make-up to school but I suspect the teachers stopped noticing. There was no such rule for the boys, since men and make-up were largely unheard of in rural Scotland before Boy George. I was surprised how quickly I forgot about my bare face and even went for coffee before my manicure and facial.
Touch is so important for emotional well-being. I felt as if threads of elastic linked the therapist's hands and my skin, particularly over the forehead and between the eyebrows, as she drew the tension away. Baby massage courses are now routine in Sure Start Children's Centres and the massage in schools programme is becoming established. I can imagine how massage would have gone down in the testosterone-fueled secondary school I attended, where girls were in the minority.
I love the professionalism of other people; how the condition of my hands and nails or the skin on my face can be the subject of detailed discussion, close-observation, frowning and note-taking. It feels like it matters. They are serious people, their jobs and training are important. Of course, I always leave with products because those are the tools of their trade and I'm impressed.
My husband disagrees. The woman who cleans our house every week likes to use a range of different cleaning materials; a specific, branded, bottle, tube or spray-can for each task. She can talk with enthusiasm about every one and scans the market to keep abreast of the latest developments. Left to him, she would be asked to use a small range of eco-friendly generic cleaners and he is probably right from an environmental perspective. But if she did this, I argue, she would be diminished. She would lose her sense of being a professional, with a unique set of skills and knowledge acquired over many years.
I have reached the weight I want to be, just in time. I'm afraid I have some sympathy with the anorexic prayer 'nothing tastes as good as slim feels' but there has never been any chance of my developing anorexia as I enjoy food too much and have the reverse self-image of an anorexic; I think I'm slimmer than I am.

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