Lockdown is making me realise what I do for me and what I do to please others

Week 10 of lockdown and my legs look like my dad’s. Turns out I do shave them for other people after all.

My perfume, on the other hand, is empty. Not because I’ve been maniacally spraying myself to test that my sense of smell is still in order and I haven’t caught coronavirus, but because apparently, I wear perfume for me.

It’s interesting what you learn when you spend so much time alone with yourself. The things you do to please other people and the things you do to please yourself. I’m not talking about the deep, meaningful aspects of our lives, but the purely superficial.

I hate doing my hair. It never looks right and I resent any time spent making it look presentable. This is not just because I find it tedious but because of the double standards set between the sexes.

If the prime minister gets away with leading a nation with that hair-do, then why should I bother?

As an actress and broadcaster, unfortunately it comes as part of the job. Intent on saving myself as much time as possible – despite having a lot of free time – I just bought some hair off the internet. Best £30 I ever spent. Pre-styled and curled, I just clip it in and I’m ready for the Zoom call.

Making a small effort, but taking minimal time to do so, feels like a happy, time-efficient compromise.

We modern day feminists have a daily inner battle with various aspects of the women’s liberation movement. Do I wear makeup because I want to, is it because of the patriarchy? Do I shave for me, or for them?

Lockdown has been an interesting time to test those theories, and the results have been interesting.

I always thought I wore make up for other people, but after 10 weeks living alone, there have been days when I’ve put it on just for myself. So internalised is my misogyny, that I will paint my face just so that in the odd moment where I catch myself in the mirror – or the reverse side of a spoon – I don’t recoil at the reflection.

I can attribute my obedience to societal gender norms once again to internalised misogyny

Wearing nice clothes, however, is pure altruism. Not even in the depths of my self-isolating self-esteem have I thought, ‘You know what, I’ll put on a bra’, let alone a pair of jeans.

Nope. If indeed we do meet again and I’m in anything other than sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt, it’s all for you.

My body hair has been split down the middle, or across the middle to put it more accurately. My legs have not seen a razor since March, yet my arm pits are met with regular attention.

I’m a feminist but, when it was announced we were permitted to meet other people, I dug out my four-blade Gillette.

Then when the social distancing caveat was mentioned, I threw those nasty blades back into the toiletry bag. Two metres is more than enough distance for my leg hair to evade their vision.

Unless, of course, they’ve taken a recent trip to Barnard Castle.

I can attribute my obedience to societal gender norms once again to internalised misogyny, but I can also blame Spencer Thompson who, on Sports Day in 1998, pointed at me and announced to my entire primary school: ‘Nicola Thorp has hairy legs!’ The sheer trauma. Cheers, Spence.

I begged my poor mother, who refused to buy me a razor (because, you know, I was nine) to shave them for me as I sat in a swimsuit in the bathtub and sobbed.

I shall do everything in my power to make sure my future daughter need never buckle under peer pressure to remove a single follicle of her body hair, but I accept the fact that the revolution came too late for me.

On a less-aesthetic note, I’ve discovered that doing the washing up is bizarrely something I do for others. In normal life I’d be pretty efficient with it, as more often than not I’d have visitors.

In lockdown, oh how it piles up. I’m the messy student you don’t want to have in your halls, let alone your kitchen. I’ve been disgusting to the point of impressing myself with my ability to stack various crockery.

So large became my house of cards, that when the gas man popped round to fix the boiler, I had no choice but to shove my dirty saucepans in the oven. Well, I suppose I had the option to clean them, but it’s lockdown, I need something to look forward to.

In conclusion, my analysis finds that I’m content being, hairy, unfashionable with a poor rating from the Food Standards agency, as long as no one sees it.

As for the perfume? It’s mine. All mine, and it helps cover the smell coming from the kitchen.

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