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U-bends and Glamour

Cropped screenshot of Hedy Lamarr from the tra...

“Pass me the marigolds and a coat hanger.”

People have accused me of being glamorous before now and it has always made me chortle. I awaken each morning with a face like a haunted potato and spend the next frantic hour performing works of cosmetic miracles in order to leave the house without causing innocent strangers to scatter like spooked pigeons. Magazines and Hollywood blockbusters survive solely on the public’s belief that “glamour” is a tangible commodity and is graced upon certain individuals with effortless ease; something innate to a lucky few and afforded to those rich and determined enough to buy the magic face creams and luxury luggage. Well guess what – glamour isn’t real, glamour is an illusion, and a fragile one at that.

I’m not terribly good at illusions, I believe they’re best left to David Copperfield (whose greatest trick to date was convincing the world that Claudia Schiffer let him touch her pink bits), and I’m especially not keen on perpetuating the illusion that glamour is real. Don’t get me wrong, I love glamour and all the trapping that go along with it, I just don’t like people mistaking hard work for natural style and beauty – the former is a hard won achievement, the latter is a myth.

Some people are perpetually late to social engagements because they’ve been “glamorously” hobnobbing at impossibly cool parties, having chic rendezvous at members only clubs and having dalliances with dashing folk who are on first name terms with everyone at Vogue. Not me.

The other night I was half an hour late to meet with a group of chums. One of their number was unknown to me, but a charming chap none the less. His opening charm offensive, taking in my leopard print heels and dress that hugged curves like it was waving them off to sea, was an enthusiastic “wow, you’re gorgeous!”, which was met, intending no lack of gratitude, with “I’ve just been unblocking my toilet with a wire coat hanger.” – Not quite the words he expected to fall out of lips painted rich red with Chanel’s finest, but those were my words and not one of them was a lie.

Take a woman, dressed in the finest of couture and most elegant stilettos that slave labour can manufacture and she will still, like the beer bellied blob in his knock-off sportswear, convert food into tummy mud same as everyone else, she just knows how to cover her tracks with Chanel No. 5 and paper-thin lies about femininity and biological mysticism. Trust me, the one thing we cannot avoid is the undignified hand of nature and there is nothing mysterious nor glamorous about it. The saying goes that you can’t polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter – this is true, but underneath it all it is still just pure common-or-garden tummy mud.

Glamour is fun, it’s the joy of playing dress-up way beyond the Wendy house, it allows us to wear a mask of Hollywood confidence and allure, but it should never be forgotten that in spite of the vertiginous heels, the glossy hair-dos and cleverly cut suits, we’re all just one fast-car-through-a-deep-puddle away from looking like humiliated flotsam. Also worth remembering that anyone who sashays glamorously into a party, “fashionably late” has quite possibly been frantically wiggling a wire coat hanger round their U-bend.

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