My name is Emma Karidian. I am 37…veering perilously close to 38…and I am a mum to 4 adorable (most of the time) children, Delphi, aged 10, Alexander, aged 6, Isabella, aged 22 months and Sylvie, aged 9 months. I am currently on maternity leave from my job as a teaching assistant at a local nursery.
I LOVE make-up. Couldn’t possibly do without it, even on the rare occasions I have gone bare-faced, it’s only briefly and only because I know once I get half a chance I’ll slap it all back on again! I’ve worn it since I was about 11 or 12. My mum used to get free samples of make-up off her friend who worked in Boots and there were always one or two cute little dolly-sized tubes of sparkly, glossy, shiny stuff left over for me. I also used to enjoy raiding her make-up bag and trying out some of her stuff – especially the expensive items I couldn’t afford myself. I’m quietly hoping my love of make up from an early age has protected my skin from the elements – my mum has always been a fan of the fully made-up look and she looks amazing for 75. I hope I look as good when I’m her age!
So, this is my make-up bag and its contents. Incredibly pared down compared with how previous incarnations used to look. Well, less is more, right? I can remember spending absolutely AGES as a teenager (and into my twenties) doing my make-up before going out. I thought my face was my best feature (apart from my spots). I made a point of using lots of foundation and concealer, pale face powder and blusher; accentuating my eyes with eyeliner, eyeshadow and mascara, smothering my lips with deep red or bright pink lipstick - I often got told that I was wearing too much – usually by various teachers at school! These days, I don’t have time to go mad with my make-up. I rarely use eyeshadow and only occasionally use eyeliner. I always wear blusher and lipstick though, I think I look ill without it. I’ve scaled down to using BB cream instead of the old faithful Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation I always used to use. I can’t afford a lot of big brand name cosmetics now, and to be honest they aren’t as good as I thought, or I was made to believe they were by various magazines and beauty reviews. Boots Botanics is my current favourite skincare range, and it always seems to be on offer, which is an added bonus! The one item of make-up I’ve always used and can’t do without is Rimmel Hide the Blemish concealer. Amazing stuff. I use Rimmel eyebrow pencils and loose powder too – in fact, I’d have to say Rimmel is probably one of my all-time favourite brands of make-up. As I’ve got older, I think I’ve gained a little bit more confidence in the way I look - maybe that’s another reason why I’ve felt able to tone down my make-up. Well, just a little bit ;)
The Mama Mio products were a bit of an expensive experiment! They promised so much! They cost so much! I also bought the stretch mark remover cream, but it didn’t work. Although, to be fair, the instructions did say to apply 3 times a day…I barely had time to do it once a day. And anyway, stretch marks can’t really be removed can they? They can fade, but they never really disappear. I took part in a trial for a new body oil that the company are hoping to launch soon too, called The Activist. I must say it was very nice, all the more so because it was free J. Out of all of the products I tried, the only one I’d buy again is the ‘Boob Tube Bust & Neck Firmer’. For my neck – it hasn’t done a lot to my boobs to be honest. I’m not dissing Mama Mio products by the way! I think they’re lovely and I’m sure they work a treat for some people ;) As an all over body moisturiser, my favourite product is Palmer’s cocoa butter. Makes my skin nice and smooth and smells like melted chocolate.
I’ve managed to maintain a mostly ‘pale and interesting’ skin tone throughout my life; I burn quite easily in the sun, rarely holiday abroad and have never got the hang of using self-tanning lotion – it always ends up streaky. I’ve thought about getting it done professionally, but I don’t want to end up looking like an oompah-loompah and to be honest, I just haven’t got the time. I’m not a fan of ‘baring all’ either. I’m not so worried about my top half, but I hate my legs! I always either wear jeans, trousers or leggings. I occasionally wear a dress, but seldom without tights. Therefore, my skin has no option other than to stay whiter than white all year round!
As a child, I pretty much hated the way I looked. I was tall, but chubby, mainly because of the huge portions of gorgeous home-cooked meals my mum used to make the whole family and the copious amounts of sweets and treats my well-meaning grandma and auntie used to give me and my brother every Sunday when they came to visit. Couple that with a bit of a lack of exercise, due to not being allowed out as much as my friends were (I wasn’t even allowed a bike!) Oh, and genetics, of course. I got teased at school a fair bit too, which wasn’t nice and put a serious dent in my self-esteem and confidence for years to come. L
When I was 15, my best friend and I embarked on a ridiculous exercise (ha!) in depriving ourselves of food. I’d flush my breakfast down the loo when my mum wasn’t looking, throw my sandwiches in the bin at lunchtime and only pick at my tea in the evening. We’d occasionally nibble some sweets from the sweet van that used to park up by the school at break time. I lost a lot of weight and once actually passed out in assembly. My friends thought I was messing around. It scared me a little bit, but I still carried on with the not eating thing. I was also smoking then too. Not enough to be addicted at that stage, but just because my friends were doing it. It also helped to suppress my appetite. Unfortunately, I did become addicted eventually. Luckily, I managed to give up when I was pregnant with my first baby and I am proud to say that I have been smoke-free ever since. Hopefully I’ve managed to preserve my skin a bit better as a result!
At the age of 16, I embarked on a year-long relationship with a man ten years older than me, who I thought I loved and who I thought at the time loved me, but he messed with my mind to the point I believed I was worthless, which prolonged my insecurities about the way I looked. Luckily, once I’d come to my senses and dumped him, I never had the misfortune to go out with anyone else as spiteful as he was. If I could meet him now, I would love to ask him why, where and how he got his warped views of the way he thought a woman should look. I was too naïve and lacked the confidence to ask him or disagree with him back then.
I have been happily married for 10 years now, and my husband loves me the way I am…big or skinny, make-up or no make-up! Well, I think he does…he sometimes has trouble with his contact lenses, so maybe I’m in soft focus most of the time!!
I’m not entirely sure why my friend and I felt the need to try and starve ourselves, I guess the media were feeding us (excuse the pun) subliminal messages even then. Couple that with a fair bit of peer pressure and general teenage insecurities. But it’s not a new phenomenon is it? Take the Pond’s advertisement from the 1940’s/50’s (?) that Betty Red cited in her blog for this experiment – the image of a woman supposedly bare-faced and beautiful as a result of using a certain product, whereas in reality she probably was anything BUT bare-faced. An early version of photoshopping! It’s been going on for years. But we’re wise to all that nonsense now…aren’t we?!
Weight-wise, I was never ‘bad enough’ to be classed as anorexic, but it’s a psychological issue I’ve had to deal with ever since. I can totally understand how some girls/women can end up that way. I’ve put on weight with each pregnancy, obviously, but I have been really desperate to lose the weight afterwards. Following each pregnancy, I have joined and rejoined a certain well-known weight loss programme, which has helped me get back to the weight I was ‘pre-children’. But although I’ve gained a certain amount of self-confidence that has come with age and experience, I am still not completely happy with the way I look. It’s not all about the weight. I don’t like my skin ageing. I hate my wrinkles and my dry hands and feet. I hate the grey hairs that reappear all too fast underneath the hair dye! I hate my small, deflated breasts and my poochy, wrinkly tummy which resembles a deflated balloon. I’ve tried microdermabrasion, manicures and pedicures, all sorts of gels and potions, but it’s too expensive to maintain on a regular basis. I’ve even contemplated plastic surgery, but I know that’s just a huge waste of money, potentially risky, even life-threatening and well…just a bit daft really.
The tabloid newspapers concentrate so much on how quickly a celeb mum regains her figure after giving birth; for example, the Duchess of Cambridge and her ‘amazing abs’. But she was fit and slim before she got pregnant, it’s her first child and she has fitness/diet/beauty gurus on tap to make sure she looks great, which most of us don’t! It creates totally unrealistic expectations and causes a lot of women to feel they are a failure if they’re not the stereotypical yummy mummy - even before the baby pops out we’re expected to look amazing! But the baby doesn’t care what we look like - as long as it’s cared for and loved. I’ve always maintained that if I was a baby, I’d prefer a soft, cuddly mum instead of a hard, bony one!!
Women are also vilified for getting older. We’re not supposed to age. We have to remain eternally youthful looking! Men, on the other hand, only improve with age! I was both amazed and horrified by Heidi Klum’s recent transformation from supermodel to ‘scary old lady’ for a celebrity Hallowe’en party. The make up and prosthetics used were amazing. But the message it sends out does absolutely nothing to help with the way the older generation are perceived by society. Why are old people scary? We should celebrate ageing! We’re lucky to have come this far, we have so much wisdom and experience to pass on to the next generation!
Ah well. I guess none of us are, or will ever be, truly happy with the way we look. But we need to realise that as individuals, we are all unique and fabulous and amazing! And I shall continue to tell myself this on a daily basis in the hope that one day I agree ;)