I have the sort of face that was never meant to be photographed. Truly, you’d be lucky if 1 out of every 100 photos taken of me even resemble a human being. I have large features, and they are not remotely symmetrical – which is apparently the foundation on which ‘beauty’ as we know it, is measured these days. Perhaps many years ago, I would have been the perfect model for the great artists (certainly Picasso – in fact, I think God might have been having a day of dabbling with the Picasso look when he made me) and every year, I can certainly see that I am becoming more of a Rubenesque work of art than ever before.
But remarkably it seems that I have a face that always reminds people of lots of other faces. For years I have been compared to Stevie Nicks, Charlene Tilton, and Kerre Woodham. And at first I was rather miffed when people made these comparisons – not because these women weren’t all utterly fabulous, but because I was trying so damned hard to be like ‘Michele Harrod’, that I felt like all I was managing was to be a mere shadow of someone else. And I was desperately wanting to make a far bigger impact that that.
And I just couldn’t see the resemblances at all. I wasn’t a great fan of Fleetwood Mac at all, so really hadn’t even seen many shots of Ms Nicks. And whilst I was a huge fan of Dallas, Charlene was just little Lucy, and I wanted desperately to be like Pamela. And I had left for London when Kerre Woodham had first hit the scene on TV and Radio, so was really quite unsure whether to feel complimented or offended on that one. When I got back to NZ, there were mixed messages out there in the world of media about Ms Woodham. Which ‘one’ of her did people think I was like. I was remarkably suspicious. And the comparison was relentless. I used to wonder, does Kerre Woodham ever get told – hell, you remind me of Michele Harrod? It must drive her nuts!?
I had the same wild curly hair and of course, now that Kerre’s book is out (From Short Fat Chick to Marathon Runner) I can completely understand – I am indeed a short fat chick. And I do have a rather loud and distinctive laugh…
I was recently clearing out an ancient chest, with my treasured childhood toys – my Rupert Bear, and Noddy and Big Ears Annuals, my matchbox cars, (that are still in that sturdy little cardboard bag with the metal handle that was later my first school bag), and my buidling blocks. Really, it is quite incredible I never ended up a city planner, or in politics, with that sort of educational foundation!! And there amongst this paraphernalia of the past, were years of photo albums. As I was going through the photos, I stopped in sudden shock. Oh my goodness, there was a photo of Stevie Nicks at one of our parties at the flat in London? I don’t remember her being there? Ha, I suddenly realised…. I really did look like her back then. A lot. You remember that really long frazzled hair we had back in the eighties, well before any decent product or my now revered GHD’s came into existence to get all of that wildness under control? Wow, how cool, to have looked like the great Stevie Nicks. I did have to laugh.
And late last year marked the 5th birthday of the Sunday Herald. Oh my, I can still remember the day the Sunday Herald was first published. I had grabbed a copy and there was Kerre Woodham’s column. This was when I began to really see who Kerre Woodham was. And I remember reading it and actually yelling, YES, I totally agree! I was almost exploding with pride. She ‘speaks’ just like me, thinks just like me (or rather – I think just like her). And I’ve been a converted follower ever since. Her wit, wisdom, and wry rhetoric leaves me in awe. So, needless to say, as time goes on, I feel truly honoured to be told that I remind people of Kerre Woodham. In fact, I feel a bit like a fraud, like I have to step-up.
And to think I used to get miffed. Sadly, now there is less and less chance anyone would spot any similarity. I gave up with the long curly hair a few years back. And the simple fact of the matter is – I’m never going to have the audacity – or the courage – to step up and run a marathon. I believe I should get a gold medal when I get off my butt on a weekend and walk around Western Springs. At least a bronze if I just nip round to the dairy and not take the car. No, Kerre has surpassed my realm of ‘likeness’ and gone on to uber-fab. And sadly, I feel a tad bereft.
As a younger woman, evolving from the tom-boy that I was … (come on, surely you got that – Rupert Bear, matchbox cars and blocks? There wasn’t a Barbie in site – I was like a little female Pinocchio – a lost cause on ever being a real girl) … I in all my arrogant and youthful glory, felt it rather insulting to be compared to other women. Then the older I got, and the more wonderful female friends I acquired, my admiration and respect for these glorious creatures just grew and grew. Suddenly I found there were role models that I was secretly aspiring to all over the place. I was, for years, convinced that I would wake up at 32, and be just as dignified and graceful as my heroine of the time, Princess Di. But alas, not one iota. Still far more like the husky, bolshy, loud, power packed bomb-shells that are Stevie/Charlene/Kerre. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’ve crossed over to the ‘dark side’ now– out of the perfect thirties, and into the forties, where everything that we once thought so important starts to literally drop off, like old ceramic tiles that can no longer cling to the bathroom wall. And at last you realize, that all the regrouting in the world is not going to restore this bathroom to its former glory. It’s time for a total makeover. Finally I have quit the fantasy that I will attend Yoga and Pilates classes 7 times a day and end up with a body like Gwenyth. And there is nothing sad, or sorry about this transition either. I can’t tell you what an enormous relief it is to finally not have the pressure of having to LOOK like someone else.
Now it’s all just about the being. Being me, and finding ways of dong a better job of being just that. Day after day. And that’s where I am suddenly finding massive inspiration from all of these wonderful role models, all right there around me, shining like the glorious stars they are.
So I’m watching you closely Kerre, you are leading the way. And I have to confess, having seen Annie Whittle in ‘Four Flat Whites in Italy’ earlier this year, and having had the pleasure of immersing myself in Peta Mathias’s “Can We Help It If We’re Fabulous”, I am suddenly incredibly excited about the future. I’m even excited about the concept of being 50 one day. How utterly magnificent! I have even considered trying on an outrageously floral Trelise Cooper dress, and have already purchased a pair of her gorgeous reading glasses. Yes, really, I need reading glasses – I’ve finally made it!
I’ve quit worrying about the bits of this body that I have tried viciously to change over the years without one iota of success. When I’m out in public, I’m now highlighting the positive, and positively hiding the rest! Those bits are MY secrets, and if you can’t see them, then I don’t need to worry about them. How simple it has always been. I’d heard that famous line – that women are like fine wine, and improve with age. I can assure you, when you are young fresh Reisling, you think this is the biggest load of codswallop you have ever heard. But as I pass from a lively Pinot Noir into a develping Merlot, I now cherish my continual improvement into a wonderfully rich port.
And look, I’m the first to admit, we ladies give up on it being ‘all about the looks’ simply because the ‘looks’ give up on us. Nature is a vicious fiend who can strip your dignity down with one foul pull of gravity the minute you’re not paying attention. And the fortunate ones amongst us, we leap off the beauty wagon and to that character train just as fast as our growing thighs will allow us. Gravity ADORES character. It seems to pull the sheath that we have kept it covered up in for years, (our skin perhaps?) out of the way so like a glorious flower, our true selves can emerge. And then the real party begins. So, the next time someone says…”gee, you know, you sure remind me of…..”, smile, and hope like crazy they are right!
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