30 April 2012

Get Out the Mower

This is the very lowest level of depilatory activity required these days. A female body apparently needs to appear entirely hair-free if it's having sex, something which, I read, has emerged from porn. I suppose all youngish men, and maybe others, would now express the same surprise as old (deceased, in fact) Ruskin upon the awful discovery of pubic hair. What do I know? To me, it's merely a sign that summer has arrived when I start considering shaving my legs. 

26 April 2012

Party Shoes

More shoes here. Truly uncomfortable footwear has a long and well-documented history. The practice of Chinese footbinding immediately springs to mind, though the object there was to produce a tiny foot and a painful, mincing gait. A very small foot was (is) apparently a highly desirable feminine characteristic, which in 19th century China had actual commercial value; the size of a bride's shoe, displayed to the prospective bridegroom and his family, was one of the bargaining points in determining her bride-price. In addition to which, the 'Golden Lotus', or 'Lily Foot', as the bound foot was known, added both high status and a sexual frisson to the effectively crippled subject. It also helpfully rendered her literally unable to run away. We naturally regard such a practice as abhorrent in modern times. Yet we seem to be extremely willing, even eager, to hamper ourselves with the current variation, the high heel. There's no apparent external compunction to wear such shoes, but, as Bernard Rudofsky wrote in his very wonderful essay, 'Are Clothes Modern?' (publ 1947, Paul Theobald), 'modern woman will.. furiously defend her high heeled footwear and her stilted walk because the corruption of foot and walk constitutes- if only unconsciously- a focus of sexual attraction... The discomfort of hampering apparel is compensated for by the collective admiration of the other sex'. Is this still painfully true? Or is the picture of Lady Gaga, obliged to be supported and even carried by her bodyguards because of the extreme 12 inch-plus height of her platforms, a symbol of female empowerment? She can afford those bodyguards, after all! 

23 April 2012

A pause

This illustrated lady is filling in while I work on other tasks..

18 April 2012

The Female Eye

Back at the make-up counter, I once asked a white-lab-coated salesgirl to show me some mascara. 'I don't do anything to my eyes', I said apologetically. 'I can see that', she snapped, and indeed she saw it through layers of gels, creams and coloured powder surrounding her own eyes. We didn't make it as far as mascara. She was adamant that I should start by investing in a cream for my aging eyes- more precisely, for the area around my aging eyes- and that put pay to my budget. Mascara seems to be one of those additions without which many women won't leave home. For some, it's mascara plus eyeliner, and even eye shadow. The time spent! We need to evolve. There's no reason the anatomy of the eye shouldn't be enhanced by items that evidently make the female more attractive to the male of the species, and I foresee the updating of biology textbooks in the not-too-distant future. We should consider ourselves lucky that we don't have compound eyes.

16 April 2012


A quick note on plucking hair, which is not performed without some little pain. Though superficially small in length, a more mature eyebrow hair (A) is embedded in the brow with a considerable root formation, seen above in the magnified illustration. Hence its resistance to removal, and, it follows, the pain. 'Il faut souffrir pour etre belle' is not for nothing the motto of the well-groomed woman.

10 April 2012


The wholly drawn brow: something you still see occasionally, on both young and old. A look that was popular in the 20s and 30s, but is less fashionable today, and is, I imagine, very awkward to maintain. I always wonder at the story behind (outside of an unfortunate, unpremeditated hair loss): Was there an irresistible urge to painfully pluck tiny hair after tiny hair in pursuit of the perfectly feminine line, until- oh, look! Nothing left! At which point something pencilled in became preferable to a blank space. Or.. was it perhaps a more whole-hearted act of auto-creation- the erasure of what nature had bestowed, followed by a little artful D.I.Y.? In so many cases, the un-natural result looks just that, a rather unsatisfactory version of nature, badly-drawn even when drawn perfectly. Or perhaps, just unfashionable. 

6 April 2012

The Eyes Have It

Some years ago, a girl at a department store make-up counter, searching for something nice to say (doubtless with a view to encouraging a purchase), told me that I had 'lovely small eyes'. More training required, I thought. On that occasion, I came away with a liquid eyeliner that purported to be easy to apply. I tried it only once; it'll be out on its ear when I find it's no longer liquid.
Even in moments of extreme desire for self-improvement, I have found it difficult to work on my eyes. A little mascara? A streak of eyeliner? That old classic, kohl? It all feels as though I'm poking myself in the eye with a stick. More effort required, I think. Below, an effort.

4 April 2012

Eyelash Curlers

Obviously, I don't curl my eyelashes. I can't even handle mascara. If Nature can't curl on my behalf, I'm not going to risk putting out an eye with an implement that appears to date from the Spanish Inquisition. The young lady above, however, seems to manage just fine.

2 April 2012

A Confession

Something else.. not only can't I manage heels, I can't do false eyelashes, either.