18 March 2013

Beauty Spot

'Beauty spot', according to my OED: a small natural or artificial mark such as a mole on the face, considered to enhance another feature. 

6 March 2013

I Needed a New Passport Photo

Late last year I came across a wonderful cartoon by BEK (Brian Eric Kaplan) in The New Yorker. So much better than my stuff. I thought I would post it here, and then decided against doing that- random copyright laws & the consequences thereof might bankrupt me. I'm going to describe it instead: a man and a woman are seated in armchairs on either side of a living room; each wears glasses and holds some sort of periodical. The man is saying to the woman, 'Of course you don't look anything like your reflection in the mirror.'
 And how right he is- we all, of course, look much, much better than what we see in the mirror. All's well on that score in this household. The mirror in front of which I spend the most time is a subtle thing, and lies to my advantage. It's lit with 40 watt bulbs that tactfully point elsewhere. 
No, it turns out the real test for me is the passport photo, which, as everyone knows, provides the real, factual. unvarnished truth about one's appearance. Today I was obliged to get a new set of ID photos. Before leaving home, I worked in front of that mirror. I primped and creamed, tweaked and powdered and coloured. And then I took myself over to the nearest photo booth, sat myself down, arranged myself in orderly fashion, and pressed the 'Take Photo' button. A ghastly portrait appeared on the screen before, a  whey-faced witch, lined and irritable. I was appalled. I tried again, and then again. I put on more lipstick; I raised my eyebrows and feigned superiority; I sucked in my cheeks; I allowed the ghost of a smile (forbidden by the passport office) to play upon my lips. Each version was worse, and then worse. I came away with something (after all, I need a passport), but I emerged weeping into the street. This is what I came away with, so you'll know me if you pass me in that street:
(That man in BEK's cartoon is telling me, 'Of course you don't look anything like your passport photo'.)

4 March 2013

Cut To Fit

The journalist Mimi Spencer wrote on 'the politics of thin' in the Times Magazine  a few weeks back ('The Body Politic', The Times Magazine, 26.01.13). Many words, and the gist of them was that she had recently made an effort to lose some weight and was feeling very smug about her newly slim figure: 'I have written for years on the subject of body shape: how true beauty comes from within, how we oughtn't to be in thrall to the airbrushed dollies in the perfume ads, how fashion is fallacy.. and I remain appalled by the exceptionally thin body ideal that has come to personify our age. And still? And still, I want to be slim.' Well, she's with the majority of us there (although she also looks a dish in her 'before' photos). She quotes Karl Lagerfeld, that fashion totalitarian, as saying, 'No one wants to see round women'. On the other hand, there's an exhibition of Ice Age Art currently showing at the British Museum here in London that seems to be larded (sorry) with little carvings of dumpling-like female figures, all apparently size 16 and above by today's standards. These might have been intended as a warning to the local women, of course, along the lines of sticking repellent images of fatties on the fridge door, but I'm guessing, in a totally uninformed way, that this was the shape to which women aspired in those good old days, 10 - 40 thousand years ago. So, no worries- another few thousand years, and we'll all be worrying about how to put on weight..