I am interrupting this food blog to talk about my photo shoot. Here I am (see pic) looking strangely sleek with straightened hair and make-up. Even my mother did not recognise me when she saw me.
The backstory: I gave my ‘how I recovered from a slipped disc with the help of the Alexander technique‘ to a journo-friend for a woman’s magazine.
Next thing, the magazine rung me. Would I take part in a photo shoot with the two other female interviewees who’d survived injury? “Yes,” I said eagerly. It sounded relaxing and glamorous to be passive and preened for a change.
Everyone was a darling and on one level it was fun to play dressing-up; highly seductive to be a nano-star for a few hours for a Condé Nast publication…
But once the excitement was over, and I watched my unfamiliar shadow on the lamplit winter streets of west London, I kept thinking: “They straightened my hair” in a disbelieving way.
Pre-1967, everyone had to have straight hair. Everyone. My elder sister used to iron hers. Then along came the musical Hair and overnight it became acceptable – indeed groovy – to have springy, wiry, untamed, natural hair.
I have always been grateful that my formative years were spent in Swinging London. I could embrace my ethnic curls, unmade-up face, hairy legs etc. No one made me feel bad about them. In fact they made me feel good!
But the status-quo soon reasserted itself and woe betide a female star with hairy armpits. Because, the thing is, girls, there is a multi-billion industry at stake: the beauty industry.
At my photo-shoot, more time was spent on on make-up and hair than the actual photographs. That meant an awful lot of Products; I have never had so many applied in one go. I became a walking chemical factory, as I fell in with some unwritten plan to look like ‘a woman’. I looked more sophisticated but I felt like a man in drag. (My mum said I looked harder and – note – older.)
Like an apple in a supermarket, I had to be sprayed with hundreds of chemicals before anyone would buy me.
Oh dear. Do I sound ungracious and ungrateful? In other words, unwomanly?
March 2009 – and here is the article in this month’s Easy Living