Depending on how you go about it, getting pretty can get pretty stressful. And you have to perfect the art of ‘popping’ in confined spaces…
I don’t think I’m a very good girl. What I mean is, I don’t think I’m too good at being a girl. I like flowers and pretty things and cute puppies and things like that, but I’m not so good at other stuff that is generally associated with being girly.
I just don’t have the skills set. I don’t really do pink; I don’t like shopping; I favour comfortable shoes; and I can go from zero to ready-to-go in about 20 minutes (and that includes a quick coat of nail varnish on the digits). When I do make this 20-minute effort, I think I look nice. Add a quick squirt of perfume to all that and I’m gorgeous. Honestly.
But sometimes, my common sense deserts me and I get ‘go girly’ thoughts. Coincidentally, they seem to occur around the time of my birthday. I think my subconscious panics and kicks in with a ‘you-must-defy-the-ageing-process’ mantra. I suddenly start thinking about regular moisturising, facial massages and copious exfoliation. I’ll go out and buy a truckload of products that, per ounce, are probably more expensive than ground-up unicorn horn and I’ll vow to institute a daily regime of age-defying preening, pampering and posing. It never happens. I’m just no good at it. The expensive products sit on the shelf and gather dust. I sit on the sofa and get wrinkly.
But a while back (I’m not saying how long a while is), a big birthday rolled into town. A scary one. So scary, I felt, that a DIY job of primping and preening just wouldn’t do. Time to hand it all over to the professionals. Time for a bit of a makeover. Time for a bit of pampery girliness.
There was a good bit to be done so I prioritised. Top of the list was a new hairdo – a proper job as opposed to my botched attempts at self-coiffing. And I wanted a little bit of professional waxing. Again, the do-it-yourself alternative is not the most reliable when you can’t actually see the bits you want to wax.
And I wanted a tan. I have never had a tan in my life. If we do get sunshine, I get a few freckles and nothing more. My natural colour is navy blue. I had bought myself a new outfit (in five minutes flat… remember, I hate shopping) and I reckoned a nice, honey tan would set it off beautifully.
So I got busy making appointments. Three main processes. Hair first; wax next and spray tan last.
They were the main ones. I was thinking too about a French manicure and pedicure, an eyelash tint and a bit of eyebrow threading but I reckoned I’d slide them in between the big appointments. I admit I started to feel a bit girly. A bit giggly, even.
First up was the hair. I told them what I wanted. I even brought them a picture. They felt my hair, rubbed it, pulled it, combed it, tweaked it, twisted it and teased it. They gave out to me for neglecting it. They slandered my previous hairdresser. They talked to me about texturising and tones. Highlights and lowlights. They introduced me to my stylist and colourist. They brought me coffee. They boggled me with technology. They gave me glossy magazines.
They went at me with scissors. They put tinfoil in me. They brought me more coffee. Five hours later (yes… five, f-i-v-e, 5) they relieved me of a hefty three-figure sum and sent me home. Unhappy.
There seemed to be a mousy-coloured football helmet sitting on my head. I came over all girly and I cried. By the next morning, though, the girly girl was gone and was replaced by the normal me. I rang them up and told them to brace themselves. I was on my way.
After a three-hour repair job in the hairdressers, it was on to the waxing person. Her little waxing room was like a big phone box. Fine if you’re making a phone call but a bit restrictive if you’re pushing 5’’10’ and expected to lie down and contort yourself.
The waxing lady was a very ‘poppy’ kind of person. ‘Pop up on the bed; pop off your jeans; pop over onto your other side; pop back onto your back’.
It’s hard to pop when your repaired hair is hitting one wall and your toes are bent up against the opposite one and you’re lying on a bed that’s about the same width as a gymnast’s beam. Still, the result was more effective than the DIY job.
Day 3 was the tan. It got off to a bad start in that I sat in the wrong salon for 15 minutes. I’d followed the directions perfectly and, whereas the name over the door wasn’t familiar, I reckoned it had to be the place. There was no record of my appointment. I indignantly told them it was booked well in advance. They were very nice and assured me they’d sort it out. Then the penny dropped. After a rather sheepish enquiry, I realised I should have been two doors down. Oops.
Getting a spray tan is a palaver. In hindsight, I should have consulted a veteran girly person to find out what was involved. My tanning person was another little poppy type and her opening line was to ask me if I wanted disposable knickers or did I want to leave my own on. How forward. I hung grimly on to my own foundation garments, so to speak, but had to pop everything else off. After I popped up onto the mat in the capsule-like booth, popped on the shower cap and popped my arms and legs in a certain way, she went at me with a spray gun.
That’s when the problem began to manifest itself. Even though I’d done what I was told by way of advance moisturising and exfoliation, there were large stripes appearing on my legs. The waxing person the day before had used a kind of wax roller that seemed to have literally left a lasting impression on my legs. It was as if there were bits of me that were waterproof. Totally impervious. When I paraded the final result to the other half, he made absolutely no effort to contain the guffaws. I looked, he told me, as if I’d been sprayed through a fence.
And, indeed, he was right. He reckoned he’d have done a better job with a bottle of furniture oil and the knapsack sprayer he uses on the weeds. It’s hard to be girly with a man like that. My unwaxed upper portions were OK, though, which was a relief. The new outfit was trousers and a top – the legs would be concealed. I had tanned my hide; now I had to hide the tan.
All told, I have come to the conclusion that I’m just not the girly kinda gal. For my money (and rather a lot of it), my self-imposed three-day makeover was complete stress. I don’t know how people do these things on a regular basis. I never got the manicure or pedicure (I did them myself in about 10 minutes), never got the eyelash tint (revert to trusty mascara) and never got the eyebrows threaded (back to magnifying mirror and tweezers).
Where do people get the time for all this kind of stuff? And where do they park? During my marathon session in the hairdressers, I had to ring a mate and ask him to go and stick another two hours on my car. And how do they do their housework? I couldn’t put my hands in water for 12 hours after the tanning process. Why do some people call these processes ‘pampering’?
Makeover schmakeover. I’m very firmly back to the school of home beauty. I can pop away to my heart’s content there. And all in about 20 minutes.