I pride myself that I have always taken time for myself even in the days when three children under six consumed my every waking hour. On waking I gave them a hot drink in their bedrooms, put out toys and jumped in the shower. I told myself if I didn’t do it then, I would never get the job done. Also I felt better for it. Then I put cereal in front of them and used that time to put on my makeup. It was hard and I had to work fast but I did it and vowed that I would repeat the exercise every day until I was too old to care. Even when I woke from a hysterectomy I had laid out my mirror and makeup to be within arm’s reach and I struggled to fabricate a glow in time for visiting. It is a matter of attitude, after all. Easy as it is to bemoan the plight of staying at home with children, your offspring fare better when you feel positive about yourself and self-care and grooming is key.
A few years ago, as my writing burgeoned and threatened to blow the top off my old computer, I took a long hard look at myself in the mirror and was overcome with dread at the thought that I might have to show myself at a book signing, radio interview, library talk or, worse perhaps even do a tv interview. I had curled my fingers to hide my raw bitten nails and kept my mouth closed when smiling to hide my protruding and uneven teeth. My jaw was so misshapen that the bones in my mouth made a clonking noise when I ate a simple piece of toast. How, I asked myself would I possibly manage to meet an agent or editor over lunch. My hair was a mass of layers, frizzy with failed colour attempts leaving it grey-tinged with irregular blonde streaks which were definitely NOT highlights.
My clothes were ill fitting as my weight did roller coasters between 11 and 12 stone. I had never had a proper bra fitting, my mother fearing the effect would bring upon a surge of boys at the door. Half the time my stomach overhung my jeans. My skin was also lacking in any glow or sheen and my choice of make-up was the cheapest I could buy in Boots.
On a whim I removed a few thousand pounds from my ISA and took myself off to the orthodontist. Within two appointments he had identified the problem with my jaw and provided a removable appliance which would make my jaw work correctly. It took 6-12 months for the clonking noise to disappear but vanish it did. A few months later he inserted the first fixed appliance on my bottom teeth. Within two months they had begun to level out to the point when I could run my tongue along the back without feeling the rise and fall of uneven tooth enamel. The teeth I could only describe as resembling Old Harry Rocks now sported a flat front edge. The top fixer was not so quick. The gaps and protrusions were so bad that two years on we are still waiting for the gaps to close and the teeth to be totally back in line with the bottom set. However, on the last visit my favourite man of the moment did some infilling and, despite the braces, I am tempted to open my mouth and smile broadly so changed is my appearance. This has to be the best four grand I have ever spent and, as the ISA was not performing on the stock market, it has not been missed.
When I was a child I was told my nails would never grow nicely as they had been so badly bitten but I have proved every miserable aunt and parent wrong. My nails already began to improve some 3-4 years ago when I found that my passion for writing produced a calming effect and keeping my hands occupied on the keyboard prevented gnawing my nails and cuticles. The braces also made nailbiting impossible. I invested in emery boards, coloured nail varnish and promised myself a manicure when I had achieved sufficient growth. I do believe that, not only did the use of the keyboard prevent my nailbiting but the process of writing and self-expression was relaxing. I was in ‘flow’ and at last doing something I had always wanted to do. Joining a writing group and reading my work to a welcoming audience also helped my self esteem and contributed to the absence of nerves and subsequent nibbling.
For my hair I decided to let it grow and lightened it and conditioned it with more expensive products. I had previously made a colour treatment last two months but now I set a monthly routine trim followed by a colour treatment at home.
Fashionwise I have discarded my old bootleg trousers and bought skinny jeans. The craze for tunics means that I am able to show off my figure which endures despite some tummy flab and I have capitalised on that.
While celebrities such as Bridget Jones actress, Renee Zellweger, are berated for looking artificially younger despite their excuse that changing lifestyle and diet has contributed, I can vouch for the fact that it is possible with only a small amount of cash to make yourself into the woman you once yearned to be. I do spend more on make-up than I did when my children were tiny and the priority was meat and two veg with fruit in the bowl. Good Clark’s shoes are no longer my concern and clothes have, in general, reduced in price over the last few years. So it is not difficult to have a makeover and achieve a look that once was out of reach.
Why don’t you try it.