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Don't look that way
It's not natural.
Those who know me well will confirm that I am not a fan of so called ‘reality’ TV. I genuinely don’t give a flying fuck what happens on Love Island, or which faded ‘celeb' wants someone to get them out of there. I have belly-button fluff that means more to me than all the Kardashians put together, and I neither know nor care who is singing or dancing from under a mask. Whatever goes on in Chelsea leaves me cold, and the only way in Essex is out onto the east coast, to the glorious open marshlands and river where I grew up. And as for Big Brother and Married at First Sight – if I wanted to see plastic people pulling on each others’ strings, then believe me, I would find an episode of Thunderbirds. At least the cast look more realistic.
In the office where I used to work before I became a full-time author, Love Island dominated the conversation when it was on – something to do with who was seeing who, and what the other contestants thought – although I will admit I did try and tune out the chat, so I may be wrong. But it was a standing joke that as soon as this topic of conversation started, then Jonathan would roll his eyes to the ceiling and type very loudly on his keyboard as a form of diversionary tactic (although excessively loud typing is actually a core skill of mine – I even manage to get occasional blood blisters under my fingertips).
What has happened to our society, that we have become so obsessed with people who have nipped, tucked and tattooed themselves into identikit grotesques? I know it is the perennial cry of the old codger, but when did our standards of acceptable beauty change, so that women with perma-surprised eyes and lips like bathroom plungers became the norm? And when did it become de rigeur to get ‘inked' – with anything from a small ‘ankle motif', to images emerging up the neck and trying to take over the face, like some ghastly creeping triffid? I have no doubt that having at least 30% of your body covered in ‘tats' is the minimum entry requirement for appearing on shows like Love Island or Married at First Sight – although as I have never seen a single second of either, that is just my guess.
And don't get me started on these shiny multi-coloured talons that seem all the rage now. Why do women think it is OK to sport the kind of nails that would make a velociraptor chitter with fear and run the other way? I mean, it's the practicalities that get me – A&E departments must be awash with people who got an itch on their nose, then had their eye out as collateral damage.
Am I the only one who still thinks that ‘natural' is the ideal in human beauty, and that any attempt to change what nature has given us is inevitably going to result in less beauty rather than more? Of course, I do know that one only sees the effects of things like plastic surgery, botox and fillers when the results are painfully obvious. There are probably people out there who have paid a fortune to achieve a more subtle and ‘natural' look (i.e. the ‘natural' look they might have had twenty years before) – and if it has worked, then you don't spot it. It's a bit like the men who wear a toupé – when it is badly done it stands out like a fart in a lift. But if it is expertly done, then you pass the bloke in the street in happy ignorance, never actually clocking that he's sporting a syrup.
But the sad fact is that so many people have these procedures done, and in such a way that it is clearly visible – that it now seems to be the norm. So I have decided that the time has come to push back; to make a stand. It's time to stop glorifying surgery and to celebrate all that is wonderfully natural about human appearance, as well ageing gracefully.
I want us to accept with glad joyfulness when a man's hair migrates away from the top of his head and sprouts instead in great clumps out of his ears and nose (mine certainly does, and it grows back indecently fast if I try and trim it). Let's not give a single toss about having a saggy neck, baggy eyes or a jowly chin. Let us celebrate these as things of beauty, and rejoice in the fact that we are maturing nicely. After all, a fine wine improves with age – why can we not do the same?
I'm even thinking of pitching a reality show to the networks. It's going to be called Love Creaks, and feature a bunch of older folk marooned on an island together. They have to decide who makes the best bridge partner, or maybe the ideal tea-brewer, then cosy up for warm evenings in front of the Antiques Roadshow. Naturally anyone with a tattoo or who has ‘had some work done' would not be eligible, and anyone left standing at the end would be declared the winner. I think it has the older demographic written all over it, and I for one, would discuss the finer points with colleagues after each episode.
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