Tag Archives: appearance

Dressing for Success

I’m unsure where I heard it, but there’s a joke that television newsreaders only concern themselves with their clothing from the waist upwards, since they sit behind desks, when presenting the news. I recently had an experience that made me feel akin to a news reporter, when I had to do an interview using Skype. Only now, that I have resigned from my current job, do I have opportunity to tell this faux pas.

“I have a Skype interview tomorrow,” I told one friend excitedly. “It is for a job in Luxembourg.”

“You have an interview with Skype? They are based in Luxembourg? How cool is that!?”

“No, the interview is not with Skype, it’s on Skype, as opposed to a telephone.”

“Fancy,” said the friend.

“What will I wear? Should I wear a suit?”

The question of what to wear bugged me. It felt pointless to wear a suit on my day off, when I’d be sitting at home. The interview was a few days away. I put the matter to the back of mind, hoping my subconscious would push a solution forward at some stage.

The day of the interview arrived. I didn’t wear a suit or a tie. I did my hair nice, ensured I was clean-shaven and wore a blue shirt. Half an hour before the scheduled call, I even did a screen test to make sure I looked my prettiest. All was well. This was no telephone interview; visuals were important.

At 10.30, the call came through on Skype as scheduled. I switched my camera on and wished the callers good morning. No response. On the screen I could see a man and a woman sitting behind a desk, appearing as if they were about to deliver their country’s Eurovision ratings. They talked, but I could hear nothing.

“Sorry,” I said. “Nothing is coming through. You can hear me, yes? There seems to be a problem with the audio on your end.”

This routine continued for minutes more, until I determinedly said we should resort to a regular telephone interview, like they used to in the good old days. I stood up to locate the house phone. Just then, did something strike me with the force of a bus. They, the interviewers, may have seen me from the waist down. Stupidly, I had neglected to address my lower half. I wore pyjama bottoms.They were not regular grey or navy pyjamas. They were baggy, purple, chequered ones. I wonder if they saw them? Mortification, I thought. I returned to the PC. The interviewers appeared busy trying to figure the reason for their muteness. I hunched onto the seat so as not to give them another flash of my négligé. I showed them the phone and IM’d them my telephone number.

My performance in the interview was not my best. The recruiters gave me good feedback and said they would be in contact within a few days. Three days later, I received a sparsely worded email, informing me that my experience did not match the profile of the role they recruited for. I was disappointed. Rejection is rejection in whatever form. My ego was bruised.

I told my brother the news. “I didn’t get the job in Luxembourg. I am disappointed.”

He paused. “I am sorry to hear that. Sure there will be more jobs, no?”

“I suppose,” I replied, glumly.

“What did they say to you about your interview?”

“I just received an email saying I wasn’t suited to the role. There wasn’t much to the email.”

“Sure Stephen, you can’t be that surprised you didn’t get the job, can you?”

“What do you mean?” I asked him this, expecting some insider information on my performance.

“They saw you in your pyjamas! No matter how good the interview went, you wore your pyjamas.”

“I had forgotten that.”

My brother and I laughed in unison for some time.

Newsreaders may very well only dress from the waist up, but in times of technical faults on set, it is most unlikely they’ll be required to stand up and resolve the issue.

Lesson learned.

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A Close Shave

The sudden realisation you are single is a severe blow to the psyche. Obviously, the worst part of any break up is the emotional stress. A break up roughly tosses you naked from the warm, insulate cocoon of a relationship onto the cold, concrete street of the Singleton. Casually dismissing the emotional turmoil of a break up, there are other superficial considerations that a Singleton is presented with; you have to give a shit about your appearance again.

Admittedly, it is grossly unfair to impute couples have given up on their appearance; there are many beautiful, well dressed couples, but I know that while in a relationship, I regularly opted to sit with a tube of Pringles in my pyjamas rather than join my friends for a night on the town. Perhaps, singledom encourages one to make more effort in their visual appeal for obvious reasons. Since my break-up, I’ve changed my hair, lost weight and had my teeth done. While I might have considered all this while in a relationship, I can’t say would have done anything about it.

When I turned single last year, the consensus of my friends was I should get back on the horse, firmly believing the best way to get over was by getting under. Well, in hindsight, they were all wrong. Wrong! The best way to get over a breakup is by locking yourself in a dark room, meditating for hours on end and unravelling each and every emotional issue on the list you spent weeks compiling. Only then, will you be exorcised of the demons from your previous relationship. However, back then I did not know this. I obsessed with finding a new horse.

“It has been a while since I was on the horse,” I told Brian one evening, walking through the after-work hubbub of O’Connell Street. “I misplaced my saddle.”

“Giddy up,” chortled Brian.

“I am a bit out of practice and there’s another matter I must address.”

“What is that?”

“Let’s just say, I am sporting a full bush.”

“Ah I see. Get yourself to Boots and buy a Philishave.”

A Philishave is a body grooming device found in the beauty-maintenance kits of most gay men and some straight men too, I presume. It is a shaver which grooms, trims, sculpts and tidies body hair. This process is referred to as “manscaping”. There are a number of advantages to manscaping. The main benefit of maintaining a tight shave in the pubic region is that it makes a penis appear larger. This factoid will encourage a flurry of men to visit Boots and purchase said body groomer. Another benefit to muscular men is that less hair causes muscles to seem larger and more defined. I’ve never had a discussion on manscaping with any of my gay, male friends, though I am interested in the frequency they do it and the areas of their body they attend to.

As necessary as it is, I hate manscaping. I have no patience for it. The stupid Philishave comes with a number of clip-on devices that allow you apply the blade to varying degrees of tightness. I guess one is meant to gradually apply the tighter blades until happy with the result. I never do this. I generally just go for it, regularly resulting in a sparse result. I often undertake a manscape at the most inopportune moments – an hour before I am due to meet friends or just before I embark on a date. My most comical incident was when the battery died about ten minutes before I was due to meet a guy. Let’s say, had the date gone well, there would have been an interesting topic of conversation later that night.

I went on a date last Thursday and in true form, decided to manscape before leaving the apartment. I took up the buzzing blade in my hand and without hesitation, ran it across my stomach. I examined my work. I had just left a clear hairless line across my stomach.

I screamed aloud. “Why do I always do this? Agggghhhhhhh”

From experience, the worst part of such a mistake is the follow through. You have to shave off all remaining hair or risk looking odd. I am now completely bare-chested. I stood in the bathroom, looking in the mirror, chewing my lip.

“Whoops. Fuck it anyway.”

The date went well and yes, he saw my bare chest. He laughed when I explained myself.

I dismiss the embarrassment of such a mistake, but what does fill me with horror is the likelihood of ingrown hairs, which I suffered from when I waxed my chest years ago. I am moisturising and exfoliating like a man possessed by chaetophobic demons.

You couples have it easy.

Nip, Tuck, Straighten and Pluck

I hate my thighs and ass. When I put on weight I develop an ass that would give Beyoncé a run for her money. In my teens, I was tall and slender. Into my twenties, my subconscious prepared for a nuclear Winter by stockpiling lard in my thighs, hips and ass. I would kill for the silhouette of a male model as opposed to my shape, which resembles two or three models huddled together. Three or four years ago, I achieved a body I should have been proud of. I was lean – I had a flat stomach with good definition. My arms, shoulders and pecs filled a T-shirt nicely. My legs and thighs were solid. I obtained this physique by spending roughly ten hours a week in the gym, doing cardio, weight lifting and spinning. I calorie counted on a daily basis. My obsession reached its peak when I used an excel chart to graph my fat, protein and carbohydrate intake. I allowed myself treats now and again, compensating with an extra push during a workout. In my head it was all worthwhile; in my opinion I looked great. My friends disregarded my broad shoulders and bulging biceps, paying attention to my sunken eyes and ashen palor. Only when I regained weight did honest opinions emerge.

“I am putting on weight again,” I moaned to Joanne one day.

“You look great Stephen,” she comforted. “You were too thin!”

“Too thin? I looked great!”

“No, Stephen, you looked sick. You looked ill.” There was an unexpected firmness in her voice.

I was taken aback by Joanne’s comment. I was obsessive with weight loss yet I don’t feel I had an eating disorder. I question the reason for this distorted self-image. Advertising and media are often criticised for bombarding women with unrealistic portrayals of beauty, encouraging eating disorders. The same accusations can be made at male orientated media, perhaps to a lesser extent, since it traditionally did not focus so much on the male physique. Historically, actors such as Marlon Brando and Rock Hudson carried significant influence on the interpretation of male image in the 50s and 60s. Both actors – albeit through their portrayal in movies – appealed equally to men and women alike. Today’s portrayal of male and female beauty has more in common than ever. The portrayal of male beauty centres more on physical body – muscles and weight – than actual “manliness”. This is illustrated in men’s magazines that contain information on achieving the despairingly elusive washboard stomach. Countless men’s magazines boast secrets for the “killer abs”. In reality, a six-pack is achievable only by maintaining a relatively unhealthy body fat, rigorous approach to healthy eating and good genealogy. The facts are ignored by thousands of men who purchase these magazines on a regular basis.

I know many vain men. Gay men after all are perhaps the most narcissistic sub-category on Earth. However, increasing numbers of straight men are following suit in the amount of care paid towards their appearance. The modern portrayal of male beauty can be blamed for the advent of the metrosexual. David Beckham, undoubtedly the most famous metrosexual, was iconic for both his athletic ability and high ranking in the style stakes, during his hay day. His prowess on the football field reinforced his ability to be daring in his choice of attire. He popularised countless hair styles among teenagers around the world. Roll forward ten years and Beckham – and his modern equivalents – are role models for working-class teenagers. Cue the creation of the chav. The male chav, associated dress code and hairstyles, is a massive reinforcement to metrosexuality and an attack on the manly man of old.

As comfortable as I am discussing my own body-issues, I was surprised when one day Best-Friend and I openly discussed our personal hang ups with our appearance. Men – gay or straight – rarely do this. I recall mentioning how happy I am to have pursued orthodontic treatment. The conversation eventually turned to what we would change about our bodies, if we could.

“Once my braces come off, I’m getting laser whitening. Think Donny Osmond!”

Best-Friend admitted an insecurity, again prompting my turn.

“I am going to look into laser hair removal for my monobrow. I pluck so much I’m afraid a chunk of my face will one day come off.”

Following a discussion of cosmetic surgeries, it was revealed neither of us would consider anything more drastic than Botox. Walking through Stephen’s Green, I pointed to my crow’s feet and prominent frown lines on my forehead. I have no issue with age. I can’t wait to go grey. It just seems that for a certain amount of money I can pay to treat an insecurity. My once crooked teeth will be Hollywoodesque within two years. I can rid myself of a monobrow for €130. Should I develop a deep furrow, I can “fill” it, costing €300. For the first time in history cosmetic alteration is available to the public at large. Instead of dealing with insecurity we can simply spend to dispose of it. We do so because we can. Considering the proliferation of cosmetic treatments among the wider public, it’s no surprise increasing numbers of men invest in their appearance. At the height of the recession, Debenhams, London recently reported a doubling in the number of men availing of eyebrow – or “guybrow” – shaping. The Celtic Tiger was partly responsible for the expansion of the Grafton Barber franchise, a styling and grooming service offered in the guise of a traditional barber’s. Despite increasing sales of men’s hair straighteners in Europe, few men openly admit to owning one.  Society has progressed to allow man take pride in his appearance, only if he does so in a “manly” way. If he does it in a “pansy” way, he should keep it to himself.

Going Grey

Over the weekend I found one.

On Saturday night I found a solitary grey hair. Of all the places to find one, it is probably the worst. I found – well Boyfriend actually did – a grey hair in my down-below-region.

At first the discovery did not bother me. I find dark, greying men very attractive. I often tell everyone, “I can’t wait to go grey”. As the weekend progressed, it irked me more and more. Yes, I like the idea of going grey, but I welcome grey hair with open arms; not greying pubes.

I had it all scheduled you see. My mother is dark and my dad is fair. Neither of them started greying before the age of thirty. I thought the same would happen to me, but nature does not seem to respect schedules. My grey day arrived four years ahead of schedule.

It is speculated that hair can turn grey overnight due to extreme stress. When I think about it, last week was quite stressful. I once read that Marie Antoinette’s hair went grey the night before her execution in 1793. Perhaps, we can agree to put it down to stress.

I revealed my discovery to my friends on Saturday night. It provided much revelry. My friend, whose business supplies hair salons in the UK, informed me there are places that provide services in bush dying.

Imagine being that concerned with youth that one would colour greying hairs. I would never do such a thing. I would rather dye.

Diet Coke Mistake

Congratulations to Diet Coke for taking a good looking girl, dressing her badly and making her front a terrible advertisement. Extra Kudos to Diet Coke for making a talented singer sound pretty atrocious. Absolutely nothing about Duffy’s appearance in the below Diet Coke advertisement was good. What on Earth were Diet Coke’s marketing team thinking they when this mound of shite together? This is one reason why you shouldn’t create a tasteless, carbonated drink with absolutely no nutritional value. Stick to Coca Cola. Look what Diet Coke did to Duffy!