Being a woman is worse than being a farmer – there are so many areas to be cultivated and maintained: legs to be waxed, underarms shaved, eyebrows plucked, feet pumiced, skin exfoliated and moisturised, spots cleansed, roots dyed, eyelashes tinted, nails filed, cellulite massaged, stomach muscles exercised. The whole performance is so highly tuned that you only need to neglect it for a few days for the whole thing to go to seed. Sometimes I wonder what I would be like if left to revert to nature – with a full beard and handlebar moustache on each shin, Denis Healey eyebrows, face a graveyard of dead skin cells, spots erupting, long curly fingernails like Struwwelpeter, flabby body flobbering around. Ugh, ugh. Is it any wonder girls have no confidence?
I always remember these words whenever I have to schedule all the maintenance issues particular to us females. I’ve learned a few things now that I’m older and wiser. First, a great haircut will get you halfway there and some eyebrow shapes are better left alone.
Given the nature of the artist’s profession, maintaining a regimen can be challenging. I work at home and sometimes can avoid social situations for weeks on end if I choose to go into a “lockdown” production period. This normally happens when preparing for a show and if I’m not careful can easily “revert to nature.” All of a sudden there’s the opening to go to and I’m not fit to be seen in public. I can say well, I’m an artist and don’t need to conform to social standards of appearance but for me, that’s a copout. I’ve never been able to cultivate that sort of attitude. So I’ve managed over the years to develop an easy system. My wardrobe, out of necessity as my closet is the size of a shoe box, is fairly simple but well fitting and nearly limited to a uniform of gray, black and white. The salon appointments just need to be written on the schedule. It’s really the little things that get me. The only solution I’ve come up with is to wake up early, say 5 am so I can do yoga (that takes care of the tummy thing) and take a proper bath. All this may sound rather strange, especially to women who have jobs requiring them to look presentable on a daily basis, or just simply more put together and socially adept, but it’s a different ball game for artists. There’s already too much to think about in the business of art that the less time taken up by the more mundane things (like keeping cuticles in good condition – a challenge for those who work with their hands) the better. My solution is to be minimalist and zen like about the whole thing. Oh and yes, remember to go outside on a more regular basis.