When Celebrity Big Brother was still being aired, wild horses couldn’t drag me from the telly, especially during each season’s live premier. As each much anticipated celebrity was revealed and wobbled down the stairs to pose for the paparazzi, my eyes were glued to their hair, makeup, manicure, clothes, shoes. Everything was over-the-top.
Although I’ve always taken care to be very well-groomed, watching these celebrities prance about in swimwear, nary a hair out of place – nor apparently any hair on their entire bodies – began to influence me. Pretty soon, I found myself going off on a tangent, upping the ante from ‘well-groomed’ to something else entirely.
Interest led to overdoing and overdoing led to obsession. Pretty soon, hair-makeup-nails-bronzer-waxing seemed to take over my life, daily schedule and finances. Instead of grooming being the first step to living an interesting life, grooming became my life.
There was a time when a neatly groomed bikini zone was enough. Suddenly, it wasn’t. What has become of this culture when au naturel women are considered ‘dirty’ even though all the medical evidence indicates exactly the opposite. Where does it end? Certainly not with ‘vajazzles’!
That’s when I ran across the term ‘over-groomed’. It was the lifeline I needed to get off this crazy ride where my looks had consumed my attention and my grooming had become self-obsession. I’d became a shallow, self-obsessed bore both to myself and everyone around me.
My husband, Rhys, disliked it intensely. ‘I feel like I can’t touch my own wife’, he moaned, ‘without messing her up or pissing her off’. He complained loudly about lipgloss making kissing a sticky mess and the exorbitant cost of salon appointments.
Instead of putting the va-va-va-voom into our sex life, I’d slammed on the brakes. Rhys wasn’t too keen on me grabbing his unmentionables with my long acrylic claws either. He’d gotten stabbed one too many times, poor man.
To make matters worse, I’d decorated our flat around the theme of Beauty. Mirrors, mirrors and more mirrors. Even my dressing table was mirrored. Ostensibly the mirrors were to brighten up the small rooms of our flat and make them seem bigger. But in truth, they existed so I could check my reflection a thousand times a day.
Everywhere you walked, there was Ivy. I met Ivy coming. I met Ivy going. Pretty soon, I was sick and damn tired of seeing Ivy. Beauty was supposed to make me confident, I thought. Somehow it all backfired.
That’s when I decided a radical change was necessary. This ‘over grooming’ thing had become a self-defeating monster. It was making me and and everyone around me miserable.
The first thing to go were all my salon appointments. Waxing, colouring, cutting, blowouts, manis, pedis…I cancelled them all. Why should I pay someone else to have the fun of polishing my nails, I thought. I loved doing it when I was young. So why am I outsourcing it now? The acrylic nails were the first to go.
I cut ties with my waxer and bought a nice package of razors for a fraction of the cost of a Brazilian wax. Turns out, Rhys didn’t like the ‘little girl’ look down there anyways. He likes his woman to look like a woman. No more redness, bumps, rashes, ingrown follicles, humiliation or pain.
Contrary to popular opinion, as my over-grooming ebbed, my confidence grew. Down came all the mirrors and up went Monet. I’m a sucker for a Monet print. Instead of being surrounded ad nauseum with Ivy, Ivy, Ivy now I’m surrounded by the glow of Monet’s water lilies paintings.
Maybe the best part is that Rhys is no longer afraid to touch me nor afraid to have me touch him. No more don’t-smudge-my-makeup air kisses. I’m not an edifice of beauty anymore. I’m a warm, human woman. The va-va-va-voom I so badly wanted in our relationship is finally there. I’d just gone about finding it in all the wrong ways.
Now, my morning primping (not including the shower) is done in about thirty minutes. Lips, eyes, powder, nail polish, hair. Done and done. Put it on and forget about it. In this new blessed self-forgetfulness, my confidence has soared.
But that’s not something telly wants you to know. With the beauty industry in the UK swelling to 16 billion euros in 2019, keeping you primping and preening is their bread-and-butter.
Take it from me: confidence is not found in the next bottle of hair dye or the next package of fake lashes. It’s a state of mind; not a state of face.
Now I have the time and resources to really live – not just look like I’m living. I have time for Rhys. Time for learning and reading, doing and imagining, creating and writing, photography and painting.
All because I left off over-grooming and started being the woman I aspired to be, instead of just looking like her.
Photo by Loredana Lavino