THE snow may still lay thick on roofs in parts of Europe, but here in Southern and Balearic Spain, it is that time of year again; the time to reveal a pallid and somewhat neglected winter body to elements of sun, sea, sand and – not least – scrutiny.
It doesn’t seem long ago since all you needed was to buy a new outfit, get a fresh haircut, some highlights and a quick pedicure, in a suitably pink colour, and hey presto!
These days, the bar is set so high you need stilts just to catch a glimpse of it: hair extended, nails gelled or acryliced, bodily hair waxed or permanently removed by laser in places where we didn’t even know we had places. Once this tortuous ordeal is over we need to be buffed, scrubbed and spray tanned so as not to frighten children into thinking we’re ghosts.
Before all this you must spend untold hours on the treadmill or on the plastic surgeon’s operating table to gain the perfect set of pins, six-pack and a bust to rival Pamela in her Baywatch days.
And what is allowed on your dinner plate resembles something more appropriate for a rabbit suffering loss of appetite. Oh, and that orange peel cellulite needs to be shrink-wrapped like an Egyptian mummy. It’s enough to make me want to wave the white flag and put my wooly jumper back on.
I have always been a bit of a scruff. No weekly appointments at the hairdressers or nail salon and if there is a short-cut to anything I will take it. In my books, it is not the journey, it’s all about the destination.
So, I was excited to see ‘beach body in 30 minutes’ in a studio shop window recently. Turns out they zap you with electrodes in strategic positions while you do a series of not-too-arduous exercises with a trainer.
Since I struggled to get out of bed or walk the next day, I think it may actually be working. Time will tell. The said ‘beach body’ needs a few sessions to fully materialise, apparently, or maybe that was just in my particularly difficult case.
Still, there is one scary trend I won’t be attempting. The Brazilian Butt (not, I hasten to add, the same as the Brazilian wax) is painstakingly honed by skilled surgeon. You may not be able to sit without a rubber ring for several weeks.
Friends who have been State-side recently confirm that the only derriere to be seen with this year is one that resembles that of Jennifer Lopez. I only feel sorry for the poor husbands and partners, now relegated to the proverbial doghouse if they say that our bums do not look big in a particular outfit. They really can’t win, though I find that the following omnipotent reply to almost any question appeases such awkward moments: “You are sensational darling, now let me fetch you some wine.”
If all this sounds too much like hard work, you can always follow in the fabulous footsteps of Nigella Lawson who stylishly donned a Burka at a beach outing a couple of years ago. If Burkas are not your style, then a decent Kaftan will be equally effective. Or to hell with it and rebel against the media and cynics. After all, life is too short and money too tight to sit around in salons all day. And with fashion being cyclical, I hope that one day the pale, wobbly belly, flat-chested look will once again rule supreme.