Not giving a crap about your looks in general.
Looks are a tricky issue. I remember a lightbulb moment when, as a teenager, I went shopping with my mother. All of a sudden, she stopped and looked at me completely flabbergasted – she had realised that on this lovely afternoon in this busy shopping centre men were no longer looking at her but at me! Wham! It was as if someone had pulled a switch.
That day I assumed she was annoyed about it, but it was the opposite. When the surprise subsided, she was delighted.
‘It is as if a burden has fallen from my shoulders,’ she said, grinning.
As a teenager I could not understand this. What was liberating about not getting attention any more? After all, that was the central point in one’s life around which everything else revolved. If ever I become as old as her, I thought, science will have invented something that can stop me from looking old!
After a long and contemplative look in the mirror I can assure you that science hasn’t achieved this. But now I can understand why my mother seemed so delighted that day. The burden she was shedding in the shopping centre was one she had taken on herself. She too had tried to conform to an image of herself as a good-looking woman. That is hard work. And with time it gets even harder. Only when it seemed in vain could she let go of it and lean back, relaxed, thinking, ‘I’ve finally left all that behind.’
I haven’t left it behind yet, but the idea to lean back instead, to stop using all sorts of aids and devices in an attempt to look radiant on a Monday morning, is simply too tempting.
We attend to our looks for other people. Always. When we claim that we would do all that stuff with eyeliner-mascara-concealer-powder just for ourselves, it is maybe due to the fact that in battle dress, with our armour on, we feel stronger when it comes to meeting the eyes of the world. That, no doubt, is a lovely feeling, but it ultimately stems from the fact that we care about the judgement of the person in the bakery, in the cafeteria, the other parents in the nursery and the check-out bloke in the supermarket. We are admitting that their opinions regarding our looks matter. Not our politeness, reliability, spending power or table manners.
If you want, you can dress and make yourself up to the hilt every morning. But whoever answers ‘Absolutely not!’ to the question, ‘Do you care about what Mr Brown in the office or Ben’s dad think about your eyelashes?’ can really do without the elaborate paintwork every day. You could have another cup of coffee or a longer hot shower instead, without nicking your legs while shaving them in a hurry and causing a blood bath on the bathroom carpet. You could even play another round of Candy Crush on the sofa! Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
The next Sunday, when I step outside our house without make-up, in jogging bottoms and an oversized T-shirt, the rubbish bag in one hand, I feel like Britney Spears in her wildest times. Only the paparazzi hiding in a tree are missing. To set myself apart from the winos in front of the supermarket down the road, already emptying mega bottles of cider, I have added a nice scarf to my outfit. Even before I get to the bakery, I have gained a new insight. Quite contrary to my expectation, I don’t feel at all insecure, uneasy or anything else starting with in- or un-. Quite the opposite: I am this fantastically relaxed, confident, poised woman who doesn’t need mascara because of her sheer personality and charm. I don’t need make-up! Look at me! I feel seven foot tall, simply because I haven’t made an effort! Before I start walking around the bakery waving to people with a bent arm like the Queen, it’s my turn to be served, and for the first time my mood is better than one of the baker’s salespeople.
In fact, my mood is brilliant. At home they still recognise me, but I think I am ready for the next level: I’ll go to work without make-up. I work at home quite often, but also frequently in the office. It is an advertising agency. I don’t know whether you are familiar with that kind of environment but everything is ultra-chic and as cool as possible. There are coffee machines costing as much as a small car (and are nearly as powerful); there are little towels smelling of lemongrass in the toilet; there are fruit bowls everywhere as well as tiny chocolate bars. It is wonderful – everything glitters and shines with chrome and glass. But the saying ‘it’s what’s on the inside that counts’ doesn’t exist here. This doesn’t apply to the staff, of course, but they do try to adapt to their environment. Everybody is chic and modern and as cool as possible. No matter what the country’s hipsters wear or carry or drag, the horn-rimmed glasses, the full beards, the undercut and those stupid long knitted hats dropping between the shoulder blades – everything that makes you wonder ‘Is that meant to look like that?’ – you can be sure it has its origin in an advertising agency.
And it is this very place I intend to enter ‘naked’. You might think that would be just right, as the ‘nude look’ is in fashion at the moment: the ‘natural look’ is mega-in.
‘The nutter’s look?’ asks L. the night before. He finds it hilarious.
‘Ha ha,’ I reply and pinch him.
‘But seriously, it’s perfect, this nude look. Your new experiment won’t be noticed at all – and I can use the bathroom a bit earlier …’ he sniggers. But only an amateur would think that nude would have anything to do with going without make-up. For the clueless: to look like you are not wearing any make-up, you first need foundation which is applied with a make-up brush – from the nose towards the side of the face, while carefully leaving the hairline free. Then a transparent matte powder is applied in circular movements with a larger brush over the whole face. The natural shape of the eyebrows is enhanced with a slanted brush and brow powder, or a matte eyeshadow, followed by a finishing fixing gel. After applying the eyeshadow base, one dabs on a shadow in light beige over the whole lid, but the fold is accented with a darker shade of brown. Then you draw a fine line in dark brown eyeliner just above the upper lashes. With the same colour you accent the lower lashes, but you should only use a brush and an eyeshadow pad. Then you treat the upper and lower lashes with an enhancing mascara, apply some concealer (a shade lighter than the foundation) under the eyes, dab a preferably natural-looking rouge on the cheek bones and, to complete the natural look, put on some lip gloss or lipstick.
L. looks at me, suitably aghast. ‘You made that up,’ he says hopefully, but no, it is the bitter truth. I, however, will interpret the nude look in a totally new way and simply not wear any make-up whatsoever; only the jogging bottoms will be replaced by a pair of jeans.
‘You have to do it properly,’ L. says the next morning when, before I leave the house, I look in the hall mirror twice. We had a lovely and relaxed morning, I had a good breakfast, our son was happy. I have done some stretches at the open window, hummed while getting dressed and even managed two rounds of Candy Crush. A top morning, compared with a ‘normal’ morning when I spend most of my time in the bathroom, create chaos in my wardrobe and then quickly down some coffee like I’m pouring water on a bushfire.
L., muesli bowl in hand, accompanies me to the door. ‘Maybe you should really ignore how you look and not use the mirror last thing before you go.’
Damn it! L. is right. Instead of having no thoughts at all about my looks I had another image in mind: I was a celebrity in Los Angeles on my way to fitness training, the type that still gets recognised despite the big shades and the hair pulled up in a pony tail, with one or two strands decoratively loosened. My looks were still important. I had just found a different image to emulate.
OK, I will leave without getting acknowledgement from the hall mirror.
‘But you would tell me if I had something stuck between my teeth or if my hair was completely frizzy?’
‘Of course,’ L. answers, grinning. How I hate it when I don’t know whether he is lying or not!
About the book:
The international bestseller that will transform your life stop worrying about being nicer, calmer or more patient. Be a duck. It all began for Alexandra Reinwarth when she said ‘f*ck you.’ To a friend. Realising this person was making her life a misery, she ditched her. This one small Act of rebellion sparked a huge change in the way Alexandra forever dealt with social guilt about everything. The good girl’s guide to being a duck will teach you how to embrace your inner d*ck, guiding you through who and what to get rid from your life, to stop worrying about what others think and how the seemingly small things in life can have a huge impact on the quality of your everyday living. Alexandra shows you how to embrace your own needs and desires to live the life you’ve always wanted. Learn to say what you want, ask for what you need and get the life you fully deserve. Go on, be a duck.
About the author:
Alexandra Reinwarth is the bestselling author of over 30 books. Born in Germany and now living in Spain, The Good Girls Guide To Being A D*ck is the first of her books to be translated into English. The Good Girls Guide To Being A D*ck has sold nearly half a million copies worldwide, and continues to inspire readers around the world.