When have you given up keeping up your appearance? Has there been a situation when you've thought, ''you know what - I just don't care how I look today''? There's one place where I've given up but I didn't realise quite how much until a strange child informed me ''You look like a snowman,'' and then my own child piped in, helpfully, with "No, a sea-creature monster''.
We were at the local pool at the weekend. It was a hot day. My face was coated in white zinc cream with a few squiggles of fluoro yellow and blue zinc cream that had been added for artistic purposes by my articulate child. I was wearing a neck-to-wrist black rashie and my hair was slicked to my head with leave-in conditioner. I was wearing goggles. In short, I looked like a snowman-slash-monster mummy. And the best bit about it? I didn't care.
While other female bathers splashed around me in bikinis and tans and sunnies, I was free to have some fun with no fear of sun damage. Although I must have been looking a little, er, theatrical, I felt invisible among the glamorous locals and with that invisibility came freedom.
I love the water - I'm always at the beach or pool - but I recognised long ago that it is not a setting in which I shine, for all my swimming prowess. I just look small and pale. The beach and pool require bouncy, brazen, bronzed blondeness, don't you think? Some women have it and shine in this environment. It's their natural environment. They look amazing. I'm not among them and I'm happy with that.
It's OK because my skin won't be wrecked. One of Australia's leading dermatologists told me before Christmas that the only really ''waterproof'' sunscreen is the old-fashioned zinc cream. You know, the type that sand sticks to, that stains your clothes and makes you look like a snowman-slash-monster.
I decided to take that on board and not even begin to try to look remotely glamorous, sexy or attractive when I'm out swimming.
It's liberating! And you get to muck around with the kids who tell it like it is.
Is there somewhere where you don't bother to look your best? Maybe your workplace is so dirty or crazy or the uniform so foul that you might as well not make the effort? Maybe it's at the gym. Or even among certain people who really do not deserve the respect that good grooming implies. Where do you let it all hang out? Where ''doesn't matter'' to you?