Wheaton’s Way

Beauty ain't all it's cracked up to be

Why does ‘beauty’ maintenance have to be costly and painful?

This is the question that crossed my mind, as I lay back and presented my upper lip to be threaded.

I’d never had a threading treatment before, but a 10x-magnification mirror at home had the area under my nose looking like fields of wheat. Time to do something.

Friends had recommended it over waxing, and so I took the advice of those who had travelled the path before me. As the first spin of threads plucked a sheaf of hair, I yelped out in pain.

The rest of the mercifully short exercise was much the same. I fancy a cat with a hot poker being shoved in its face would have reacted in a similar fashion.

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At the end, I resolved to find a less painful method of moustache removal or I would resign myself to looking like Tom Selleck for the rest of my life.

From when I was a teenager, all TV and magazine ads drove home the mantra of ‘Smooth: Good; Hair: Bad’. Not on one’s head, of course, but everywhere else on the body. Legs, armpits, elsewhere… have skin the consistency of a stingray’s underbelly or risk being labelled a hippy.

It started with chemical creams (Neet, Nair), followed by shaving and, finally, waxing. The last one was the least pleasant method but had to be done far less frequently. That lovely ripping sound was a bonus.

Of course, remaining as hairless as a Peruvian Inca Orchid (yes, Google it), is just the beginning. As I get older, I begin to wish I’d got into a routine of skincare earlier in my life, only because it would be second nature by now.

For years, I washed my face with hand soap (across the world, aestheticians collectively gasp), leaving it Bonneville Salt Flats-dry. Now, I’m trying to make up for lost time.

Did you know that a person is supposed to wash their face with a cleanser, then apply toner, followed by a serum, and cap it all off with a layer of hydrating cream? Twice a day?

How does anyone find the time to eat?

I spent a small fortune on a starter kit, stuck to it religiously for about three days, then slowly gave up. Emperor Palpatine it is, as Yoda might say.

I cannot abide the Kardashians, but I’ve gotta hand it to Kim et al – they’ll do whatever it takes to look fresh and young, pain be damned. I’m convinced Kris Jenner is another Benjamin Button.

I remember the pictures of Kim after she had gone through her ‘Vampire Facial’, which involved microneedling all over the face. Hell, no. I’m someone who will probably never travel to Africa because of all the recommended vaccinations, so the idea of someone puncturing my skin just for beauty’s sake leaves me cold. I guess I’ll just have to kiss goodbye the dream of having her life.

When it comes to diet and exercise, they are important for one’s health, but they can also be taken to extremes by those who try to emulate what they see on the fashion runways or, indeed, in standard TV series. When was the last time you walked into a hospital or a police station, and found everyone to be supermodel-stunning? Half the cast of ‘Chicago Fire’ looks like they just stepped off the pages of Vogue. What Law of Averages?

I’ve done the cabbage soup diet, tried to join a spinning class (wow, those seats are narrow and hard), and attempted to get up as the cock crows to go for a leisurely one-mile run before breakfast, all to attain Leading Lady status. None of it lasted. After years of yo-yo dieting, I think I’ve found what works for me, and I’ll happily accept the role of ‘comic relief’ in whatever Chuck Lorre show is next coming down the pike.

When all is said and done, some body maintenance is completely unavoidable and isn’t just about looking good. Teeth are a nice example.

I never had many cavities when I was younger. In fact, I think I entered my 30s with one filling in my mouth and a bit of bonding. Time catches up with you, though.

When I last visited the dentist, I happily chirped that I had a sterling record when it came to tooth issues. The hygienist frowned as she looked at my X-ray. “Yes, well, I think your luck’s run out,” she said.

Any time they start talking about your mouth in quadrants, you know you’re in it for the long haul. We basically cleared the next month’s calendar for me to fit in all my necessary appointments. Thank goodness for white fillings or I would have ended up looking like Jaws from ‘Moonraker’.

None of it is particularly fun, but if you leave your teeth too long, the alternative is bonkers expensive. Porcelain veneers will have you selling a kidney on the black market.

In the end, everyone wants to look their best, but I’m becoming more realistic about how I achieve it – from a pain and financial point-of-view.

Yes, a surgical facelift could be very effective, but carefully hidden strips of duct tape and a turtle neck can also work wonders.

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