Science and Technology
Dec 12, 2019 by William Lewis.
From investing in a great moisturiser to recognising the value of a decent haircut, Daisy Buchanan’s dad has taught her that beauty is not only a way of taking care of herself, it’s also fun.My father is the best smelling man – no, person – that I have ever encountered during my time on Earth. All of the people I love, and am intimate enough with to notice, produce a broad olfactory range. My Mum smells divine after she’s sprayed some of her favourite Escale à Portofino, and divine in a different way when she’s been digging up the garden all afternoon. Similarly, I adore the scent of my husband’s skin when he’s just showered, but I didn’t adore it any less when our boiler broke and he went unwashed for 48 hours. But Dad’s basic, standard scent is somewhere between Sicilian lemon grove, and the John Lewis linen department. I’m not sure that he sweats. His commitment to good grooming is unwavering. Mum never wears make-up, thinks it’s obscene to spend more than £20 on a haircut and until recently, thought that Johnson’s Baby Lotion was the best all purpose moisturiser that money could buy. Dad is the one who showed me that I was allowed to care about what I looked like, and more importantly, that I was supposed to enjoy the rituals and processes involved. I think his love of luxury skincare is something that he sees as a hobby. For him, it’s no sillier or more significant than a fondness for football. He’s my beauty icon – not because I want to look like him, although the resemblance is already there. But because I want to be as savvy and sensible as he is when it comes to picking and choosing the smartest parts of grooming philosophy and using them suit his purposes. As a woman and a highly suggestible person, I’m aware of how the beauty industry manipulates me. I’m encouraged to spend money because I’m “worth” it, I have flaws that urgently need fixing, I should enjoy “me time” (bleurgggghhhh) by having a “pampering sesh” (boak) because I need to make myself feel better after seeing the many multi million dollar ad campaigns that are created to invent imaginary physical problems that women need to address. When I was growing up, my Mum’s wise response to this was to see it for the nonsense it was, and refuse to participate in it. But to me, beauty and grooming looked glamorous and fun. My Dad’s cheery, practical approach showed me that I could enjoy the best bits of beauty without getting bogged down by any sense that I had an obligation to look good. No-one was going to suffer to be beautiful on his watch. When I was an awkward teenager, hugely self conscious about my skin, my body, and essentially everything, Dad had a real knack for buying kind and thoughtful gifts that made me feel happy and pretty. After I had a bad reaction to some paint stripper strength supermarket cleanser, Dad went to Debenhams in his lunch hour and quietly presented me with a Clinique kit. If something caught his eye – whether it was perfume in an unusual bottle, or nail polish in a perfect shade of Pepto Bismol pink, it would be gifted to me or one of my sisters. Once he came home, very excited, with a brand new foundation. “I saw the advert, and they were making all sorts of crazy claims about how it used NASA technology for long lasting coverage. It’s probably rubbish, but I thought you’d like to try it and see!” I will never forget the day he came home from a work trip to New York, laden with the entire Benefit range for my sisters and me to try. He told us how he’d bonded with the women in the Manhattan office over the classic, kitschy packaging, and the fun he’d had when he was choosing it all. His enthusiasm was as much of a present as the huge pile of lipstick. It showed me that make-up is meant to be playful, not prescriptive. Ultimately, Dad’s celebratory approach to grooming has taught me that taking care of yourself is a matter of self respect. Dad doesn’t moisturise because he’s insecure about his appearance, or use a particular shampoo because he’s heard that it has mysterious anti ageing properties. He makes an effort because he feels able to set a high standard for himself, and he’s proud to meet it. This is what he expects from his daughters too. He’s never made me feel as though I have to look a certain way, but he’s set a great example when it comes to the link between self care and self esteem. Thanks to Dad, I know a great haircut won’t necessarily change my life, but there is something life changing about realising that I’m entitled to the nicest haircut I can afford, and I don’t need to feel guilty about the hours I spend in the chair. Beauty isn’t bestowed on us by a particular magical product. It’s all about attitude.