That prams and art are not mutually exclusive.

Reclaiming beauty in motherhood

Post by Gill Harrison

As I entered my thirties I knew the world would soon expect me to pay for youth and beauty.

But only this week, a month off my 35th birthday, did I realise that I enter the anti-ageing market wide eyed and naive, and therefore a complete sucker for shopping centre cosmetic sales and marketing teams.

My mistake came in the form of eye contact held a second too long. She swooped swiftly, placing a cool hand on my arm. With reluctance I stopped my trolley knowing she had me where she wanted me. Christmas shoppers pushed past us in a whirl of festive frenzy.

“Oh, so hot?” she soothed in a voice as smooth as honey.

”Yes, it’s hot” I replied lamely.

“And how is your day going?” Her voice was accented (Spanish?) She made sure to keep up a stream of chatter as she moved subtlety into her routine. Without asking she squeezed cold gel onto my tired hand. ”Now, did you know about the healing properties of honey?” She massaged the gel gently. My shoulders melted into the simplicity of her touch. The boys quietened in the trolley, curiosity overcame their restlessness.

Maybe I need this.

The gel smelt like butter on warm toast. Such flawless ingredients!

“I bet I could make this gel at home?” I joked to the girl.

“Oh, but you won’t find this honey in the supermarket. We use only the most high quality honey available” admonished the girl.

My eyes scanned the display of little bottles, packaged inside dainty green boxes.

Maybe I need this.

“You have some fine lines developing under your eyes. And your skin is quite dehydrated. Sunspots are developing. And some laugh lines. This product would be wonderful for your flaws.”

I need this.

“How much?” I asked.

A bright smile broke across her face. I realised her youthful beauty. Her almond-coloured skin glistened, her teeth white and straight.

“$198 is our regular retail price. But today we have a special Christmas gift for our customers, today it will cost you just $167!”

I backed away. She sensed the spell weakening.

“C’mon YOU are a mother. You don’t get any time to yourself. You need to treat yourself. You need to look after yourself. “

The spell broke into a thousand pieces.

Suddenly I didn’t appreciate this girl with her honey voice pointing out my fine lines and wrinkles. Suddenly I didn’t like the way she used the common complaints  of motherhood against me.  I looked at my boys, still watching from the trolley. I didn’t want them to see me fooled.

Whatever became of Beauty? When did fine lines and wrinkles take her for ransom?

Maybe I need this. Maybe I’ll be beautiful, if only I had this gel. Maybe my life will change if I rid myself of all fine lines and creases. Maybe my fears and worries will fade away with my sunspots, if only I had this expensive organic honey to roll about in.

Maybe I need to drink more water. Eat better. Sleep earlier.

Marketers weave a sticky web. Be careful what you say. They listen to our anxieties, worries and complaints and they lure us with a miracle solution, with promises in a jar.

“Why did that lady rub honey on your hand, mummy?” Oscar asked as we walked away. “Because she wanted to sell me something”.

“But why was she so nice, mummy?”

Because honey catches more flies than vinegar.

How do you feel about fine lines and ageing? Do we need to reclaim Beauty? Redefine her?

13 Responses to “Reclaiming beauty in motherhood”

  1. Gill

    Completely agree Hannah. Looking after yourself is one thing but I feel like we need to rethink our attitudes to ageing (ageing – the word itself is filled with negative connotations!). Beauty needs to grow up!

  2. Michelle

    Beautiful post. Those people make me want to run away fast. I remember once when my regular eyebrow ‘girl’ was away I got a replacement who went through the long list of my skin’s flaws and ended up selling me some outrageously overpriced goop I never used. And when you think about she did, and what was done to you, it is such an offensive marketing strategy. It is one thing to tell a person behind the counter that you would like a product to help with a particular issue, another for them to point out flaws (which are really just the natural ageing process) without invitation!

    • Gill

      I know, right? I don’t like the blatant preying on insecurities in order to sell a product. The “c’mon you are a mother” spiel snapped me back to reality. Such manipulation! Perhaps to expect authenticity in advertising/ marketing makes me naive. But I think it’s time we demanded it!

  3. rhythm & method

    When I first read this post Gill, I felt myself softening to this woman’s touch. I have frown lines and laugh lines in equal measure, and I guess that makes me a difficult woman. No amount of honey will take away those lines.
    Beautifully written and well put. x

    • Gill

      You know If she had been selling massages I would probably have purchased one!! She was good! But I felt fooled when she started pushing the hard sell. Mothers need nurturing too, yes, but, as you say, no amount of honey will cure the laugh lines! And why should we want it to??

  4. Kristy@HouseofProwse

    Hi Gill, Karen,
    It’s been a while since I have read you, Gill.
    I’ve missed your lovely writing and this was such a lovely message.
    Hope 2013 is filled with amazing goals for you to achieve and more laugh lines for you to grow into!

  5. maxabella

    I hear the noise, but I’m not listening. I honestly think I left any trace of vanity I ever had on the delivery room floor. It’s a grand freedom. It means I can just ‘keep myself nice’, but nice for me right now, not me yesterday. x

  6. Jodi

    They are not flaws. Flaws indicate faults or defects. The lines on our face are testament to our lives, the good times, and the bad. They show we have lived a full life. I would much rather be ‘flawed’ than with perfect ‘honey’ skin and nothing to tell.
    Lovely writing x

  7. 10 % Inspired

    I might be mildly sadistic, but I kindof love it when they go for me. I had an acident as a small child and my right hand is a bit mutilated – my index finger is quite a bit shorter than normal and the nail faces off the the side and there’s some scaring. Most of the time it’s not something people notice and I’m pretty laid back about it, but I always make sure they grab that hand. Really derails their sales pitch when they flintch back and have to try to get the other hand *g* My husband thinks it’s hysterical.

  8. debbrightandprecious

    Hah! Brilliant last line. So cleverly told, Gill. The beauty industry is one big seduction. This is quite a serious spell because they get us to feel guilt and lies in order to sell us overpriced things we don’t necessarily need. More water, better food, more sleep – a good starting point indeed!


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