Dear Martini hopefuls

Some 34,000 hopefuls applied to star in the new commercial. It's refreshing to know that there are so many people confident that they are absolutely fabulous, says an agony aunt
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The Independent Online
As you trundle home by bus, train and car, to points all over the country, I do hope that those of you rejected by the Martini judges in their search for beautiful people are not staring at yourselves in the mirror and wondering where you went physically wrong. Was it the spot on your nose? Those too-small breasts? Skinny legs? I hope you're not looking back over those 18 seconds of audition at the Criterion Theatre, wondering whether you didn't recall a smirk and a giggle and the words "fat bottom" tittered through a cough.

I think it's unlikely. Because if you'd been that sort of person, you wouldn't have been one of the 34,000 people who put themselves up to star in the new Martini commercial in the first place. Of course, not all those thousands made it to the actual audition - no doubt a few discreet questions about such things as age, weight, number of teeth, limbs and so on put applicants off, but 5,000 filled in forms and submitted photos, of whom 250 were accepted for audition.

And then 10 were chosen. And 240 of you were sent home. And I'd like to congratulate you for having a go.

When it comes to looks, the British are incredibly self-effacing. She may spend hours in front of the mirror and at the gym, but it's a very confident girl who, when told she looks attractive, can calmly say: "Thank you". Most reply, embarrassed: "You should see me in the morning." Or: "It's just this dress." It is no surprise that of the Martini applicants, all the men entered themselves and most of the girls were entered by someone else.

It is thought as naff to imagine you're good-looking - let alone declare publicly that you think you're a bit of physical dish - as it is to talk about how much you earn. Indeed, physical self-loathing is really the order of the day, and anyone who doesn't put themselves down as far as looks go is thought to be a bit of a freak. In women's magazine surveys, readers can always find something wrong with their bodies, from drooping bottoms and flabby thighs to breasts like bee stings.

Loathing how we look breeds anxiety, preoccupation with weight, at worst anorexia and bulimia. Hours can be wasted in gyms - far beyond the call of mere good health - attending thigh-busting classes or trying to trim bums and tums. If the result is satisfaction, fine, of course, but all too often the goal of physical self-acceptance, let alone pride, is never reached.

This is why it's incredibly refreshing to discover that there are some people out there who think they look absolutely fabulous. People who, when asked to say the words: "I know I look good. You know I look good" on stage to the Martini judges, actually manage to get the words out without a hiccup, and look their inquisitors firmly in the eye.

No matter you didn't make it through, you're still beautiful. I'm only sorry I missed the ad myself. I would have entered like a shot, and when I was weeded out I would be thinking what I hope you are thinking. That those foolish judges were sadly wrong in their decision.

VIRGINIA IRONSIDE

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