Karen Hardy's Beautiful Women
Portrait of a happy young female shopping for fruits in market.
Earlier this week I was searching for a photograph to run with the beauty story in Sunday’s Relax magazine. The story was about the latest beauty products that promise to ‘‘take years off your face’’ – you’re going to read it now, aren’t you? – and I needed a hero shot to accompany it.
When I put ‘‘beautiful woman’’ into the search parameters of our stock photo library it turned up 899,381 photographs. There were women of all shapes and sizes and colours, in supermarkets, in hammocks, in fields surrounded by flowers. There were photographs of women eating oysters and doing handstands. There was even one photograph of a woman in her underwear standing behind a dinner table with a plate full of seafood in the foreground and a marlin and a deer mounted on the wall behind her. Beauty can be a very subjective thing.
To be honest, I was a little overwhelmed. All I wanted was a photograph of a woman who looked nice. I think I found one – and you’ll have to check Sunday’s edition to see, won’t you? She wasn’t too made up, she had a few wrinkles, her hair just was and her smile was a smile, not some pouty princess pout.
But then my definition of looking nice might well be different to yours. I thought this woman was much prettier than the models on the cover shot of Relax, with all due respect to them, gathered around the feet of make-up tsar Napoleon Perdis, as they were (you’ll definitely need to get the edition now to see what I’m talking about) but that’s just me.
I probably spent too much time thinking about beauty this week thanks to Perdis himself in a roundabout way. The Relax desk received a lovely little package of his products, lip gloss, contouring powder, fake eyelashes galore. My favourite, however – and I put this one straight into my handbag – was the ‘‘Minimergency Kit’’, ‘‘for a gal’s tiny troubles’’, containing, among other things, earring backs, lip balm, deodorant towelette, a tampon and some dental floss. A terribly practical little gold purse of goodies. For a terribly practical girl. But fake eyelashes? Nothing practical about them, if you ask me.
But who I am to pass any judgment on Perdis and his business, me with my stubby little eyelashes. He’s a millionaire, an astute businessman, and he seems to have an uncanny ability to know what women want. Read Sunday’s story and you’ll probably agree.
Some colleagues and I were discussing the false eyelashes, beauty in general, our make-up regimes and the efforts we go to to get ‘‘turned out’’, as my mother liked to say.
After I’ve showered, my beauty regime consists of combing my hair, cleaning my teeth and slapping on a little moisturiser. Occasionally I’ll dab on a little concealer. If I’m going out maybe a little mascara.
We were talking about what lengths women go to in their quest for beauty. Costly skin treatments, regular hair and nail salon visits, surgery even. I mentioned a book I once reviewed, Helena Frith Powell’s To Hell in High Heels: How to Age Gracefully, Disgracefully or Not At All, (Arrow, $19.95), a hilarious account of her investigation into all the anti-ageing tricks out there, during which she tried many, many procedures herself. If you’re thinking about trying anything, read this book first. It might help you to decide, or change your mind. It will definitely make you laugh.
Then I had a ‘‘do’’ – as my mother liked to say – last weekend and one of these colleagues, who is always turned out immaculately, offered to do my make-up using the Perdis products. One of my dreams is to have someone such as Carson Kressley or Gok give me the whole ‘‘how to look good naked’’ makeover, so I jumped at the chance.
Well, that was on the Friday. Come Saturday, once I’d done the chores and ducked about here and there with the kids, I wasn’t really in the mood to go out, let alone have my make-up done. That, and I’d left the products at work. Still, she convinced me and I popped around to her place.
The first question she asked was ‘‘Is your face clean?’’ and I faltered, thinking, ‘‘Well, I had a shower this morning, doesn’t that count?’’
And for the next 20 minutes or so she made me over. I’m not even sure what some of the products were she put on but I trusted her completely. By the end of it I looked pretty good. And it had put me more in the mood for a night out. I even had a few compliments that evening, too, which was nice. But the next morning, up early, too early for I was up too late, I headed off to my son’s cricket with nothing but clean teeth, combed hair and a little moisturiser.
I’ve gotten through life this way. I’d rather spend my money on holidays or books, I’d rather spend my time of a morning in bed.
It’s not that I don’t care about the way I look, I just don’t care that much. If people judge me because my hair’s just there, or I’m wearing tracksuit pants, or I have a spot on my cheek, then they’re people I don’t really want in my life. I am who I am and no amount of concealer is going to hide that.