Monday, 5 November 2012
45: No beauty queen
As a child, and right until I left home at 17, I was force-fed a daily diet of jibes of how ugly, fat and stupid I was. They left such an imprint that even at 40-something, even though my head now knows different, the wounded child within cringes at every imagined magnified flaw. When I became a teenager, the insults took on another level where my own father gave me all sorts of hurtful labels (eg slut, whore) – all because boys started showing an interest and calling the house. I felt embarrassed and dirty. So I had my hair cut short (to look like a boy), and tried my hardest to blend in with the furniture and not call attention to myself. Of course, years later, chasing a career in show business was SO at odds with that! But a lifetime of self-loathing followed. Then again, it took having my own babies to realize the failings did not lie within myself but with the monsters who had branded me...
Then, some 15 years ago, my older brother asked me to accompany his wife to a cosmetic surgeon’s office in Bangkok because she was anxious about her level of English and apprehensive of the potential end-product from a ‘lost-in-translation’ situation. Meanwhile, I was more concerned about my lack of proficiency in Cantonese (my sister-in-law’s mother tongue) AND my lack of Thai! But he insisted. And so, like a good little sister, I went along on the appointed day. Long story short, after the doctor finished with her patient, she turned around to me and said, “Now, I could really get to work on your face and make you look MUCH better!” Ouch!
But the ‘good doctor’ was probably right. Even now, I don’t do myself any favours. I struggle to commit to any sort of beauty regime, keep my nearly-always-unpainted nails short; and am known to sport a shiny forehead due to a lack of foundation or powder. At 40-something, I do try to remember to at least moisturise (sometimes), but even I know its only a half-assed job. My daughters go to the hairdressers more than I do; AND I know at least one girlfriend who would be horrified to know I nearly ALWAYS take the kids to school in my workout gear. After all, why bother with the hassle if I am just going running straight after? The problem with that? I struggle to be useful to my girls when it comes to the whole ‘beautify me’ thingy, often having to call my girlfriends who have a better idea on – for example, how to avoid collecting multiple frequent flyer points in Zits-ville or how to avoid a shiny face!
I kid you not! A couple of months back, when Matt and I got invited to go to some swanky fundraiser, I was petrified! The crew who invited us are what they would call in Italy “sprezzatura”, in that they look fabulously and effortlessly glamorous – 24/7! Panicked, I promptly booked a facial, called a girlfriend-in-the-know about the whole eyelash thingy (don’t ask!) and spent the best of two weeks trawling the malls trying to find the ‘perfect’ dress and frankly, the WHOLE thing was EXHAUSTING! The time and effort required! Urgh! I admit I came away with a new-found respect for these girls from the little I glimpsed of their world. But I cannot help myself – a ‘glamour-puss’ I am not. Nada time nor patience.
I know I am not good at teaching the girls the in’s and out’s of ‘prettying-up’ and often find myself extolling a “less is more” mantra with them – whilst calling girlfriends in a panic for advice or researching the Internet for answers I do not possess. BUT, I AM good at talking to them about being kind and strong; about the importance of ‘feeding’ their soul, heart and mind; of being true and honest; and the paramount necessity of balance and dreaming. And most importantly, how beautiful and loved they are. I hope its enough.