Monday, February 02, 2009

I feel pretty, oh so pretty...

A survey this week, commissioned by a bottled water company, has revealed that women feel at their most attractive at the grand old age of 32.
Apparantly at this age the follies of youth (frizzy perms, dodgy skin, questionable fashion sense) are most likely to have gone and instead women have reached a certain maturity where they have discovered their sense of self, grown into their features and take care of themselves better than ever before.
Dear reader, let me paint you a very different picture. I’m 32 (and indeed shall be for another five months) I sit here before you a picture of non-attractiveness. I am 35 weeks pregnant. I have a stomach so distended I can feel my unborn baby punch my considerable thighs. On my stomach there is a fine coating of downy hair - one of the lovely symptoms of pregnancy no one really warns you about. At least, however, the downy hair goes someway to cover the mass of stretchmarks which still exist from the first time I thought it sensible to decide to pro-create. (No new ones have emerged, but as my mother so lovingly reassured me it is “only a matter of time”).
My hair is wiry. It would not look amiss on the end of a toilet brush. It does not glow or shine with the bloom of pregnancy. It sits, generally quite lank, around my face which - it has to be said - has seen much better days. I thought when I left my teenage years I would lose my ability to sprout ‘blemishes’ (the nice word for zits) at a daily - and indeed sometimes hourly - basis.
And generally speaking I did. I did okay through my 20s and even through my previous pregnancy but this one - oh Lord. Clearasil should have me on a retainer. My face has not bloomed - it has positively erupted, and there is only so much repair work a super strength foundation and concealer will do.
What has bloomed - in stark contradiction to the wiry, increasingly grey hair on my head - is the hair on my legs. It seems to reappear almost as soon as the razor is placed back on the shelf and believe me shaving one’s legs in an advanced stage of pregnancy is at best tricky and at worst down right dangerous. I dread the day my obituary reads that I severed a vital artery while shearing the inch long hair from my calves. Worse still is that I’ll be laid out with a half shaved leg... and the unkemptness of my calves will be there for the undertaker to see.
Mercifully my weight has not increased and while that is something I’m happy about, it has been merely because I have spent at least five minutes of almost every day of the last eight months throwing up. Regardless of the effect that has had, or not had, on my overall weight it has not done anything to improve my feelings of general attractiveness or confidence in my ability to be an attractive lady.
I’m paranoid that a faint whiff of sick follows me at every turn - and I don’t even have the baby in arms yet to blame. (Oh yes, I have the smell of baby spew to look forward to.)
I discovered I was with child four days after my 32nd birthday so it has been far from my most glorious year. Sadly I think my most glorious year has passed - at a time when I didn’t appreciate just how glorious it was. I look back at pictures of me in my mid 20s. I was relatively slim - with actual cheekbones and a jaw line as opposed to my sagging jowls of my 30s and I could weep. My skin and hair glowed with vitality - no doubt down to the strict eating regime which preceded my wedding at the very tender age of 24. I refused to wear make up in the run up to the wedding to give my skin a chance to breathe and recover. I would be beyond brave to make the same decision now - I would scare small children (especially my own, and they have to love me... it’s the law).
Of course at the time I hit myself with every negative thought in the book. I convinced myself I was a fat bride (oh to be so “fat” again!) and wept at my wedding photos considering myself still very much an ugly duckling waiting for the day she turned into a beautiful swan.
It’s only now - at 32 - when my feathers are getting distinctly stubbier and browner day by day that I realise that I was, at one stage, actually quite pretty. Okay, so Angelina Jolie never had anything to worry about but I was passable. Perhaps once the ravages of hormones leave my body sometime in mid-March I’ll start to feel a little more upbeat and feminine again.
Perhaps the last three months of my 33rd year will indeed prove the water bottlers and their researchers right. Then again perhaps I need, like so many of us, to start appreciate what attributes I do still have because it could come to the stage than in ten years I’m weeping over photos of me with my newborn baby and wondering why I felt so utterly unattractive back then.

1 comment:

bfs ~ "Mimi" said...

Oh, sweet Claire!

You make me laugh! Why are we so hard on ourselves??

You know, you are in one of the most feminine times of your entire life! I know you are lovely!

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