Lisa Markwell: No make-up, hairy armpits. What's not to like?


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The Independent Online

Hey, have you heard the news? Women sometimes don't wear any make-up or shave their armpits, or have smooth, dimple-less thighs. What's that, you say, this is not news? No, it's not, but you'd think it was from the frenzy of attention over: a) Hillary Clinton venturing out without make-up; and b) the appearance of Emer O'Toole on television with hairy pits.

Clinton got heat from various sources, starting with the influential right-wing political blog the Drudge Report, for going about her business – and she's Secretary of State, remember – wearing glasses, an unmade-up face, and with un-blow-dried hair. Last time I checked, appearance didn't have any bearing on ability to do a job. If it did, we should note that many high-ranking executives look like they're unfit, get little sleep and drink too much. Isn't that more of an issue – physique being a possible barrier to performance?

But I digress. The thing is, Hillary Clinton doesn't need me to defend her, which is just brilliant. With a bare face and glasses, she looks like a major force in world politics, like lots of her peers. They have bare faces and glasses, they just happen to be men.

And on to hairy armpits, which I assume most men have too (ignoring the curious creatures who inhabit scripted-reality TV shows). Emer O'Toole wrote a funny, insightful blog on the website vagendamag. about giving up shaving and the reaction she received from friends and strangers. It was weeks ago, and at the time it was retweeted and shared among women with a wry smile.

But researchers on This Morning finally spotted her and she gamely appeared on TV in a sleeveless dress, the better to demonstrate her experiment. Sure enough, 80 per cent of viewers said they were "horrified" by her hirsute body. As with Hillary, it doesn't matter that anybody was repulsed. If success is the best revenge, then both have nailed it.

In other "Oh, God, aren't some women hideous?" news comes the explosive headline from America that a cure has been found for cellulite. Pardon me, but since when was cellulite a disease? It is, as smart US commentator Dodai Stewart notes, a fact. It doesn't just afflict the corpulent and the lazy – it does, however, affect more women than men.

I'm willing to put money on any gentleman caller, when he gets up close and very personal with a woman who invites him in, happily overlooking any small lumps, bumps and tufts of hair. And if any world leaders behaving badly fall under Secretary Clinton's gaze, the last thing they should worry about is whether she's wearing mascara.

Ban phones at bedtime

Ofsted banning pupils carrying mobile phones in schools is significant. I agree that if they disrupt a lesson, then they must be banished but there is still the argument that parents need to be in contact with their (particularly) teenage children, and texting seems to be the only way.

More significant would be a ban on mobile phones in bedrooms after bedtime. Difficult to police, yes, but young adults of my acquaintance spend long hours after midnight BBMing when they should be resting, and when they do fall asleep, it's with their mobile under their pillow. While I was being treated for cancer, an oncologist went visibly pale when told by a fellow patient that she did just that. Long-term risk of brain cancer trumps any other reason for phone restrictions.